The Effect of Using Written Retelling as a Teaching Strategy on Students Performance on the TOWL-2

By Geist, Eugene A.; Boydston, Rita Clanton | Journal of Instructional Psychology, June 2002 | Go to article overview

The Effect of Using Written Retelling as a Teaching Strategy on Students Performance on the TOWL-2


Geist, Eugene A., Boydston, Rita Clanton, Journal of Instructional Psychology


The purpose of this study was to determine if practice in written retellings that focused on the structural framework of narratives, would enhance second grader's writing development as tested by the TOWL-2. This investigation used a Multiple Analysis of Variance procedure to examine the interaction effect of Teaching style (Traditional / Skill Based or Language / Whole Language based) and the use of a written retelling strategy to teach grammar. The questions to be discussed are:

1) Do students who are taught reading using the written retelling strategy score better on the Test of Written Language--2 (TOWL-2) over students that were not taught using this strategy.

2) Does the teaching style (Traditional / Skill Based or Language / Writing Process based) have an effect on the test scores on the TOWL-2

3) Is there an interaction between these two independent variables. In other words does the written retelling strategy work better in a traditional classroom or a language based classroom?

The study involved a total of 118 children from four writing process and four traditional classrooms. The classes were randomly assigned to treatment and control groups so that there were 2 traditional classrooms and 2 writing process classrooms in each of the control and treatment groups. A written retelling instructional strategy was conducted with the treatment groups over a 12-week period. Prescores and postscores on the Test of Written Language-2 were analyzed by using a multiple analysis of variance (MANOVA).

All the subtests except the Thematic Maturity test show a significant interaction effect between teaching style and the written retelling approach to teaching reading and writing. These interactions, along with the individual results for each classroom and independent variable suggest that written retelling cannot be used as a piecemeal ready made activity that teachers can use in their classrooms. Instead the teacher must use this method as pan of an overall paradigm shift toward a more writing centered classroom. The MANOVA results show that the traditional classrooms using the written retelling strategy did not show significant gains over the traditional classrooms that was a control group. Therefore the written retelling strategy in this environment was not particularly effective. However, The Literature based / whole language classrooms that used the written retelling strategy did show a significant improvement over the control group. This is the basis for the interaction effect of teaching style and written retelling. Written retelling strategies tend to work best in a literature / whole language based classroom.

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Because of the major paradigm shift in the field of literacy, new questions concerning children's writing development have emerged. A recent study by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (1990) reported one-half of the children in America were not able to write an adequate response to writing assignments that involved a variety of genres. Further evidence indicates that many teachers focus on the mechanics of grammar and correct spelling with little or no time spent on the actual writing process itself.

As educators seek to use more strategies that support children's natural writing development, written retellings are suggested. Written retellings are viewed as a practical instructional strategy (Brown & Cambourne, 1987). Although there are only a few studies that investigated retellings as an instructional strategy for writing development, they showed positive results (Gambrell et al., 1985;Gambrell et al., 1991; Morrow, 1985. According to Morrow (1985), there is a need for further research to determine the significance of using written retellings to enhance children's writing development.

The purpose of this study was to determine if practice in written retellings that :focused on the structural framework of narratives, would enhance second grader's writing development as tested by the TOWL-2. …

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