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Results from the Stanford Study of Writing Paul M. Rogers Ph.D.


Major Findings • Writing development is multidimensional and nonlinear across a number of knowledge domains

• New digital technologies have increased student opportunities to write for authentic purposes and audiences

• Ongoing chains of communication with readers who possess certain qualities provide the greatest opportunity for writing development


What do we learn when we learn to write? How can we as faculty best develop student writing abilities?


The Stanford Study of Writing • Random Sample 12% of the Class of 2005 n=189 - 1/5 in the interview group n=39

• All disciplines - 14,776 pieces of writing • 150 hours of interviews across five years


Strong academic achievers are not necessarily strong writers • Stanford’s incoming class of 

2001’s had an admittance rate  of 12.7% (Brown, 2001)

All study participants needed to adjust to the demands of college writing at Stanford.


Longitudinal Studies of Writing in Higher Education Rogers, P.M. (2010). The contributions of North American  longitudinal studies of writing in higher education to our  understanding of writing development. In C. Bazerman, R. Krut,  K. Lunsford, .S. McLeod, S. Null, P.M. Rogers and A. Stansell  (Eds.). Traditions of Writing Research. Oxford, UK: Routledge.


Beaufort, A. (2004). Developmental gains of a history major: A case for building a theory of disciplinary writing expertise. Research in the Teaching of English, 39(2), 136-185.


Rogers, P.M. (2008). The development of writers and writing  abilities: A longitudinal study across and beyond the college­ span.(Doctoral dissertation, University of California, Santa  Barbara, 2008). DAI # 3319795.


Looking at the change across all 10 categories, we found a statistically significant improvement from the first year to the last years for

Claims and Knowledge t(83) = 6.72, p-value = .000 Telling and transforming t(83) = 4.09, p-value = .000 Awareness of Readers t(83) = 3.29, p-value = 0.001 Treatment of Sources t(83)= 3.71, p-value = .000; Theory and Concepts t(83) = 3.04, p-value = 0.003 Students grew the most in the category of argumentation with the use of claims and evidence showing, by far, the most growth.


Digital Technology "I think we're in the midst of a literacy revolution the likes of which we haven't seen since Greek  civilization," she says. For Lunsford, technology isn't killing our ability to write. It's reviving it— and pushing our literacy in bold new directions. Read More http://www.wired.com/techbiz/people/magazine/17­ 09/st_thompson#ixzz0nEURsebd


How Writers Develop


Non-classroom Related Factors

Classroom Discourse

Student’s lives outside of the classroom or  school context Psychological factors such as self-esteem, confidence, or anxiety Time - Natural development (growth, maturity, and development) Preexisting abilities and writing experiences; cultural backgrounds, and gender

What teachers say about writing in the classroom, including direct instruction Peer to peer talk, reading and writing groups Whole class discussion Conversation with teachers

Student engagement Institutional context, including assessment regimes Mentoring (in socio-cultural settings)

Teacher Behaviors Classroom Genres Teacher expectations

Teacher written response to writing i.e. ongoing, performance specific feedback Model texts

Responsive teacher attitude in relation to feedback Immediate rhetorical context, e.g. classroom Access to other student texts & grades Time to draft, revise, and reflect Reading Mentoring (by teachers) General instructional supports: handouts etc ... Repeat performance opportunities, i.e. Increased domain knowledge practice Nature of tasks Teacher supportiveness, accessibility outside class


Non-classroom Related Factors Student’s lives outside of the classroom or  school context Psychological factors such as self-esteem, confidence, or anxiety Time - Natural development (growth, maturity, and development) Preexisting abilities and writing experiences; cultural backgrounds, and gender Student engagement Institutional context, including assessment regimes Mentoring (in socio-cultural settings)


Classroom Discourse What teachers say about writing in the classroom, including direct instruction Peer to peer talk, reading and writing groups Whole class discussion Conversation with teachers


Teacher Behaviors Teacher expectations Responsive teacher attitude in relation to feedback Immediate rhetorical context, e.g. classroom & grades Time to draft, revise, and reflect Mentoring (by teachers) Repeat performance opportunities, i.e. practice Nature of tasks Teacher supportiveness, accessibility outside class


Classroom Genres Teacher written response to writing i.e. ongoing, performance specific feedback Model texts Access to other student texts Reading General instructional supports: handouts, graphic organizers, assignments, and rubrics Increased domain knowledge


Dialogic Interaction

Bahktin’s description of dialogue proved extremely valuable in understanding the dimensions of the most  impactful response practices.  From Bahktin’s perspective, for an interaction to be dialogic, it must include  a change of speaking subjects, the “finalization” of an utterance, and addressivity (pp. 76-78). A change of speaking subjects implies clear distinction between the turns that interlocutors take (p. 71); further, each turn taken must include the possibility of a response. Secondly, an utterance is finalized when [each] speaker has said (or written) everything he wished to say in a particular situation. Addressivity, the third feature, refers to personalization, i.e., the quality of being directed to a specific audience or individual. In a classroom context, this quality of addressivity implies that the response to one student is “differentiated,  personalized,and individuated from a matrix of response that addresses the class as audience” (Phelps,  2000).   By attending to these qualities rather than mere feedback, the focus shifts from the responder’s  activity to the learner’s development through dialogic interaction.    Bahktin, M. M. (1986). Speech genres and other late essays. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press.

Riegel, K. (1979). Foundations of dialectical psychology. New York: Academic Press.


• expert knowledge of the subject matter • expert knowledge of the genre requirements • a high level of interest and engagement on the part of the responder •           accessibility, availability, and supportiveness  • knowledge of the individual student’s writing strengths and weaknesses  • continuity of interaction over several writing tasks • responders ability to give good comments, oral and written • a willingness to work through multiple drafts of the same paper • candor and trust (see also O’Neill & Fife, 1999 p. 196)  • respect for the reader/responder's writing ability

Qualities of Effective Responders


Implications Integrate writing instruction (WAC), especially as students progress towards professional activity. Best accomplished at the departmental/faculty level


Implications

Consider the value of digital technologies in students’ overall  developmental trajectories, i.e., look closer


Dialogic Interactions •Open ended conversations •Teach and model for students how peer review works for

professional writers •Use multiple channels for engaging in dialogic interaction •Engage early with writers •Positive and negative comments are useful when coupled with instruction


http://ssw.stanford.edu/


Thank you for your attention progers2@gmu.edu http://mason.gmu.edu/~progers2/

Results from the Stanford Study of Writing  

By Paul M. Rogers Ph.D.

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