Effects of professional development in strategy-focused writing intervention on fourth-grade Spanish teachers and students’ outcomes

Submitted by: Paula López
Abstract: As in other countries, in Spain students experience severe problems mastering writing (Ministerio de Educación, 2010). The use of evidence-based practices in schools is critical to overcoming problems with writing. In the writing domain, one of the most effective evidence-based methods for writing instruction is strategy-focused instruction (Graham & Harris, 2018). The main goal of the present study focuses on the examination of teachers and students' outcomes following practice-based professional development (PBPD) for strategy-focused instruction in writing.
The sample comprised ten fourth-grade teachers and 250 students distributed in ten classes from several schools with similar features. Teachers were randomly allocated to three experimental conditions. In the first experimental condition (N=4), teachers implemented a strategy-focused instruction focus on planning and drafting processes. In this condition teachers participated in a PBPD program. In the second experimental condition (N=4), teachers implemented the same strategy-focused instruction program than in the previous condition but without PBPD for teachers. In the control condition (N=2), teachers implemented a writing program focus on product knowledge about high-quality texts without any kind of strategy instruction. The programs in all conditions comprised six sessions implemented over six consecutive weeks. The study followed a pretest-posttest-follow up design. In each assessment moment, students wrote two compare-contrast essays about topics that were close for students. The topics were counterbalanced between assessment moments and conditions. Students’ writing performance was assessed by holistic measures of product quality. Also, as students wrote with smartpens that allow us to collect bursts and pauses data and measures of thinking aloud the students’ writing process. Qualitative observations were considered to determine outcomes regarding teachers’ fidelity of implementation in the treatment conditions. Teachers also completed a questionnaire about their beliefs and attitudes toward the teaching of writing before and after the implementation of the intervention. Social validity was also assessed. The study will be carried out in the coming months, so data are not yet available. The results will reveal the effects of PBPD in strategy-focused instruction on students and teachers outcomes. Research funding: EDU2015-67484-P, MINECO/FEDER.

Keywords: Writing instruction; Professional Development; Strategy-focused instruction; Evidence-based practices


Ministerio de Educación (2010). Evaluación general de diagnóstico de 2009. Educación primaria. Cuarto curso. Informe de resultados [2009 Diagnostic General Evaluation. Primary education. Fourth year. Results report]. Madrid: Secretaria General Técnica, Subdirección General de Documentación y Publicaciones.

Graham, S., & Harris, K. (2018). Evidence-Based Writing Practices: A Meta-Analysis of existing meta-analysis. In R. Fidalgo, K. Harris and M. Braaksma (Eds.), Design principles for teaching effective writing: theoretical and empirical grounded principles (pp. 13–37). Leiden: Brill Editions.