The effects of expressive writing on the social studies achievement, writing fluency, and learning retention of fourth-grade students
Davis, Barbara Hatter
MetadataShow full item record
This study sought to examine the effects of expressive writing on the achievement, writing fluency, and learning retention of a selected group of fourth-grade students in social studies. A quasi-experimental nonequivalent control-group design was utilized. The subjects included 77 fourth-grade students in four intact classrooms from two elementary schools in the Lubbock Independent School District. Two classrooms (one from each school) served as the experimental group (N=41) and two classrooms (one from each school) made up the control group (N=36). Prior to the experiment, the Social Science Test of the Stanford Achievement Test Series and the Test of Written Language-2 (TOWL-2) were administered. Scores from these two tests served as covariates in the analysis of data. In addition, the TOWL-2 was used to categorize students by writing ability. Both the experimental and control groups studied the same content material in social studies during the research project. In addition, the treatment group wrote in journals twice a week for ten minutes during social studies. The control group did not participate in journal writing during social studies. The treatment condition lasted nine weeks. At the conclusion of the experiment, a writing fluency posttest and an initial posttest were administered to each of the subjects. Two weeks after the initial posttest was administered, a delayed posttest was collected in order to measure learning retention. The data were analyzed In two stages. During the first analysis, a multivariate analysis of covariance was used to determine the significance of differences among the groups. The dependent variables consisted of the averaged Z-scores from the writing fluency posttest and raw scores from the initial posttest. The Social Science Test and the TOWL-2 were used as covariates in the analysis. The independent variables were writing ability (higher and lower) and group membership (experimental and control). During the second analysis, a 2 X 2 analysis of covariance was utilized in order to determine the significance of differences among the groups. The delayed posttest served as the dependent variable. The Social Science Test was used as a covariate. Writing ability (higher and lower) and group membership (experimental and control) were the independent variables. The results of the first analysis revealed a statistically significant difference in the writing fluency between the experimental and control groups. No statistically significant differences were found for writing ability or for the initial posttest. Nor was there a statistically significant interaction between writing ability and group. The second analysis of data revealed a statistically significant difference between the groups on the delayed posttest. This finding supports the idea that expressive writing activities have a significant effect on learning retention. As in the first analysis, there as not a significant interaction between writing ability and group membership. Through informal observations, the researcher gathered additional information regarding the actual context of the experimental situation. It was noted that students participated willingly in the journal writing activities. In addition, an informal analysis of the journal entries revealed that students used writing to summarize what they had learned, to assume different points of view and historical perspectives, and to synthesize various pieces of information into a meaningful whole.