Using Strategy Instruction and Self-Regulation to Improve Gifted Students' Creative Writing

By Albertson, Luann R.; Billingsley, Felix F. | Journal of Secondary Gifted Education, Winter 2001 | Go to article overview

Using Strategy Instruction and Self-Regulation to Improve Gifted Students' Creative Writing


Albertson, Luann R., Billingsley, Felix F., Journal of Secondary Gifted Education


Abstract

In an extension of a previous investigation, we examined the effects of an instructional-package consisting of strategy instruction and self-regulation techniques on the story writing of two gifted, middle school students. Specifically, we used a multiple-baseline, time-series design across the two students to determine whether strategy instruction and self-regulation techniques would affect planning, text production, rates of writing (i. e., fluency), reviewing, and writing quality Strategies for planning and reviewing involved the use of printed prompts that could be used by the participants. Self-regulation components included goal setting, charting, and monitoring the amount of time spent planning, number of words written, rate of words written per minute, and number of story elements. The findings indicated that, following application of the instructional package, both participants wrote longer stories, increased their writing fluency, and included more story elements. Conversely, we noted that the parti cipants spent less time planning and reviewing and less time writing as the study progressed. Finally, independent raters judged stories the students wrote following intervention to be of higher overall quality than ones they had written earlier. We discuss limitations of the study and implications of the findings for practice and future research.

Writing is a complex skill to master, and it places multiple demands on writers. Mastering the writ- in g process requires hard work, skill development, and years of practice. According to Applebee, Langer, and Mullis (1986), many students do not write clearly or express their ideas well when they write. Decreases in students' writing skills (e.g., Applebee et al., 1986), failure to improve writing at either elementary or secondary levels since the early 1980s (Campbell, Voelkl, & Donahue, 1998), and demands for higher literacy standards (e.g., Linn, Baker, & Dunbar, 1991) reflect the need for improved instructional techniques.

Considerable research on writing distinguishes between expert and unskilled writers (e.g., Flower & Hayes, 1981; Fitzgerald & Markham, 1987; Scardamalia & Bereiter, 1986, 1987). To write well, writers must know writing conventions and they must have adequate knowledge about their topics. Expert writers, however, also possess and effectively use a variety of cognitive strategies for planning and reviewing, as well as techniques for self-regulating, while they compose. Authors need strategies for deciding what to include or leave out of their texts, for creating a text that meets the needs of the intended audience, for reviewing a text so that it can be effectively edited and revised, and for continuing to write until the text is finished (Butterfield, Hacker, & Albertson, 1996). Writers who use such strategies and who effectively self-regulate by monitoring and directing their own writing behaviors can greatly enhance the quality of their texts (Flower & Hayes, 1981; Graham, Harris, & Troia, 1998; MacArthur, H arris, & Graham, 1994).

Although gifted students may be highly creative thinkers, they may "enter the creative writing environment at a comparable level to their peers" (Brewster, 1989, p. 24). Like those peers not identified as gifted, they require, and benefit from, instruction and feedback in the composition process (Collins & Cross, 1993; Collins & Parkhurst, 1996; Ganopole, 1988).

A number of promising approaches have emerged in recent years to promote creative expression by young, gifted writers, including the use of mental imagery (Jampole, Konopak, Readence, & Moser, 1991; Jampole, Mathews, & Konopak, 1994), whole language programs (Ganopole, 1988), and collaborative writing (Rousch, 1992). In addition, "strategy instruction" has effectively and reliably improved story writing, particularly among students with learning disabilities (Harris & Graham, 1996).

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