The effects of an extended prompt versus a typical prompt on the length and quality of first draft essays written by secondary students with mild disabilities

by Hessler, Theresa L.

Abstract (Summary)
Outcomes for secondary students whose writing skills are less than proficient are discouraging. Students with mild disabilities especially face significant challenges in their writing education, yet few interventions have been implemented (Englert, Raphael, Anderson, Anthony, & Stevens, 1991). Typically, these students write far less than their non-disabled counterparts and are less able to produce coherent, quality writing (Vallecross & Garriss, 1990). Writing output is often so sparse that it is difficult for teachers to identify deficits for remediation. Consequences for adults with poor writing skills include underemployment (College Board, 2004), restricted access to higher education, and extra time and expense in postsecondary education (Livingston & Wirt, 2004). Research indicates that with strategic support, students with disabilities can increase both the quantity and quality of their writing. Various supports have been explored in the research, including self-regulation (De La Paz, 1999), goal-setting (Page-Voth & Graham, 1999), and revision strategies (Wong, Butler, Ficzere, & Kuperis, 1996, 1997). Strategies are most likely to be used if they can be easily implemented by the teacher to more than one student at a time. This study proposed the use of an extended prompt containing supports for writing a 5-paragraph essay as a way to increase the length and quality of student writing. Eight African American high school students participated. Each week during the 12-week study, students completed a first draft essay. During the baseline condition, students wrote in response to a typical 1-page prompt that provided a topic, background, and brainstorming information. During the intervention condition, students wrote with an extended prompt, a 7-page packet containing the typical prompt, prewriting support, and guidance for writing an introduction, conclusion, and three body paragraphs. Students wrote a final essay using only the typical prompt. The results demonstrate that 7 of the 8 participants (a) averaged more words using the extended prompt than the typical prompt, (b) demonstrated no important difference in percentage of correct word sequences between the two conditions, and (c) were more likely to have higher holistic scores on essays written with the extended prompt. The results are analyzed and discussed, along with limitations.
Bibliographical Information:


School:The Ohio State University

School Location:USA - Ohio

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:writing written expression learning disabilities specific mild prompts quantity of quality number words correct word sequences holistic scores


Date of Publication:01/01/2005

© 2009 All Rights Reserved.