Academic journal article Journal of Education and Learning

Examining Writing Performance and Self-Perception for Low Socioeconomic Young Adolescents

Academic journal article Journal of Education and Learning

Examining Writing Performance and Self-Perception for Low Socioeconomic Young Adolescents

Article excerpt

Abstract

The present case study investigated the impact of a short-term summer literacy approach on writing performance and self-perception of writing for young adolescents of low-income families residing in urban housing projects. The approach offered intensive literacy engagement to offset summer achievement loss; assisted ethnic-minority, low socioeconomic youth achieve state benchmarks in the English language arts; and pioneered research on writer self-perception for this population. Findings from pre/post use of a normed writer self-perception scale, Chi-square analysis of a camp experience survey, participant interviews and a program exit survey revealed that the 250 youth entering grades five through seven and engaged in extensive writing prompted by reading, discussion, and use of graphic organizers believed their progress and ability to write positively improved. Progress in writing was objectively measured by pre/post writing accounts of a favorite experience evaluated by calibrated raters using the state rubric system. The results of a dependent t-test evidenced a significant increase in writing performance with 157 participants increasing, 56 decreasing, and 37 achieving the same score between pre/post evaluation. A bivariate correlation comparing postwriting scores with postresults of four self-perception subscales revealed significant correlations at the .01 level.

Keywords: adolescent literacy, graphic organizers, low socioeconomic youth, reading to write, writing performance, writing self-perception

1. Introduction

1.1 Introduce the Problem

While young adolescents engage routinely in oral discourse, in the context of local speakers conversing in familiar surroundings, learning to write poses a challenge for many as the discourse style of written language needs to be learned. The context for learning the skill of writing generally occurs during formal schooling. However, this paper presents a short-term literacy approach conducted during the out-of-school time of summer in which low-socioeconomic youth experienced intensive writing. The unifying characteristic of this population was that they all resided in urban housing projects. As such they provided a unique population for this case study that explored how writing engagement affected their ability and perceptions about writing.

1.2 Explore Importance of the Problem

Examining trends in writing instruction over a 30-year period, Moore (2012) noted that writers improve at writing by being engaged in writing and by having teachers that motivate them with process and product. However, in a revealing analysis of NAEP data regarding how much students actually write, Applebee and Langer (2011) pointed out that only 21% of students at the middle school level wrote an extended paragraph or more over a semester's time in the four content classes of English, Science, Social Studies/History, and Mathematics. The National Commission on Writing (2003) had urged earlier that time-on-task for writing should be doubled and that writing should be encouraged during out-of-school time. After focus group hearings with professionals around the country, the Commission (2006) added that a positive climate to foster writing needs to be established with a need for personalization of instruction. The Common Core Standards for Writing (National Governors Association for Best Practices, Council of Chief School Offices, 2010) asks that young adolescents write routinely over extended and shorter time frames while focusing on discipline-specific tasks and purposes.

1.3 Relevant Scholarship

A strong relationship exists between achievement in writing and socioeconomic status (Lin, Monroe, & Troia, 2007; Ma, 2000; Olinghouse & Graham, 2009) with Blacks/ African Americans, Latino/ Hispanics, and those eligible for subsidized lunch performing well below their Asian and White fourth and eighth grade peers on national writing assessments (Applebee & Langer, 2011; Salahu-Din, Persky, & Miller, 2008). …

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