Free to access research studies: effective writing practices

We suspect you are on this website because you want to know how you can help your class become joyful and successful writers. The first step towards achieving that aim is devoting time to:

  • Understanding what it means to write and be a writer.
  • Reading about the teaching of writing.
  • Conducting action research in your classroom.

This means using teaching practices with a proven track record for success. Since Donald Murray’s work (1970s), so for the past 50 years, educational researchers and writer-teachers have honed a set of instructional practices which have largely remained consistent in their effectiveness. These approaches have always improved children’s writing.

More recently, this understanding has come from meta-analysis. We now know, more than ever before, what practices result in better writing. What’s most exciting is that this knowledge (coming largely from educational scientists and statisticians) has been combined with qualitative studies which look specifically at what the most effective teachers of writing do in their classrooms. Unsurprisingly, they match!

With this in mind, the below research studies are the meta-analysis and qualitative teacher studies that have become so influential. These also formed the basis for our own Writing For Pleasure research and therefore much of what you find on this website. Enjoy!

  • Calkins, L., Ehrenworth, M., (2016) Growing extraordinary writers: leadership decisions to raise the level of writing across a school and a district In The Reading Teacher  Vol.70(1) 7-18

  • CLPE (2017), Writing in primary schools: what we know works London: CLPE

  • Dombey, H., (2013) Teaching Writing: What the evidence says UKLA argues for an evidence-informed approach to teaching and testing young children’s writing UKLA: London *Paid

  • Grossman, P. L., Loeb, S., Cohen, J., & Wyckoff, J. (2013). Measure for measure: The relationship between measures of instructional practice in middle school English Language Arts and teachers’ value-added scores. American Journal of Education, 119(3), 445–470.

  • Gadd, M., (2014) ‘What is critical in the effective teaching of writing?’ The University Of Auckland

  • Graham, S., & Perin, D. (2007) Writing Next: Effective Strategies To Improve Writing Of Adolescents In Middle School & High Schools Alliance For Excellent Education

  • Graham, S., McKeown, D., Kiuhara, S., Harris, K., (2012) A Meta-Analysis of Writing Instruction for Students in the Elementary Grades In Journal of Educational Psychology Vol. 104, No. 4, 879–896

  • Hall, K., Harding, A., (2003) A systematic review of effective literacy teaching in the 4 to14 age range of mainstream schooling Institute OF Education: London

  • Higgins, S., Martell, T., Waugh, D., Henderson, P., Sharples, J., (Education Endowment Fund) (2017) Improving Literacy In Key Stage Two EEF: London

  • Hillocks, G. (1986). Research on written composition: New directions for teaching. Urbana, IL: National Council of Teachers of English.

  • Ings, R., (2009) Writing Is Primary: Final research report. London: Esmee Fairbairn Foundation

  • Koster, M., Tribushinina, E., De Jong, P.F., Van de Bergh, B., (2015) Teaching children to write: A mata-analysis of writing intervention research Journal of Writing Research 7(2), 249-274

  • Langer, J. A. (2001). Beating the odds: Teaching middle and high school students to read and write well. American Educational Research Journal, 38(4), 837–880.

  • Medwell, J., Wray, D., Poulson, L. & Fox, R. (1998). Effective teachers of literacy. A report commissioned by the UK Teacher Training Agency.

  • Morizawa, G., (2014) Nesting the Neglected “R” A Design Study: Writing Instruction within a Prescriptive Literacy Program Unpublished: University of California, Berkeley.

  • De Smedt, F., Van Keer, H., (2014). A Research Synthesis on Effective Writing Instruction in Primary Education. In Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences, 112: 693–701.

  • Toria, G., (2014) Evidence-Based Practices for Writing Instruction CEEDAR: Michigan State University.

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