Cognitive Factors in the Development
of Children's Writing
As a communicative act, Writing is undeniably a social event between the writer and audience. In addition, Writing is also a cognitive act, one often accomplished by an individual writer whose audience is only as immediately present as the writer's imagination, knowledge, and experiences allow. As a cognitive psychologist, my perspectives on the development of Writing are grounded in the cognitive paradigm; however, the research on children's Writing extends far beyond that single paradigm (see the other chapters in this volume). In this chapter, I review empirical research on the cognitive processes involved in the development of children's Writing, together with some discussion of the social and instructional contexts that may support or thwart the development of sophisticated Writing processes.
The field's growing recognition of the importance of the broader contexts of Writing is reflected in Hayes's (1996) revision of the seminal model of composing that he and Flower proposed over 25 years ago (Hayes & Flower, 1980). In his revised model, Hayes (1996) supplemented descriptions of cognitive processes with broader discussions of context, motivation, affect, and memory.
The three major cognitive processes described originally by Hayes and Flower (1980)—planning, translating, and reviewing—were retained in the 1996 model but were substantially reconceptualized. Planning was subsumed under the broader label reflection, which encompasses problem solving (Including planning), decision making, and inferencing. Translating was retitled text production and has been elaborated considerably by Chenoweth and Hayes (2001). The original reviewing process has been expanded to include text interpretation, as well as embedded reflection and text production, all under the control of a revision-specific task schema (see also Hayes, 2004). These elaborated cognitive processes are attributed to the individual, as are affective components (e.g., goals, predispositions, beliefs), and knowledge from the writer's long-term memory (e.g., knowledge of topic, genre, audience) and working memory.
External to the individual, according to Hayes (1996), is the task environment, comprising both the social and physical environment. The social environment includes the audience, collaborators, and I suggest, in the case of student writers, the instructional context. The physical environment includes the developing text and the composing medium.
The revised model proposed by Hayes (1996) remains designed to account for ex-