The effect of goal-setting and planning on the writing competence of secondary school students

Year: 1994

Author: Krause, Kerri-Lee

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This paper examines an intervention study aimed at improving the essay writing skills of secondary school students. The program has been trialled with a group of Year 8 students, with a view to conducting a similar program in Year 10. The premise of the study is that goal- setting and planning are crucial, often ignored, elements of the composing process. These factors influence writing quality, and may be related to student attitudes to writing.

Two intact Year 8 classes from the same school were designated as control and experimental groups respectively. Two facets of writing were assessed at pre-test. Firstly, writing anxiety levels of students from both groups were determined using the Daly-Miller Writing Apprehension Inventory, a pre-tested instrument in the form of a Likert-type scale. Secondly, the writing competence of both groups was assessed by means of an in-class narrative writing exercise which was marked by two experienced teachers using predetermined marking criteria. The experimental group underwent the intervention program, comprising eight class periods over six weeks. The control group continued with regular English classes during this time. After eight weeks, the two groups completed a post-test comprising a second in- class narrative essay and the Daly-Miller Writing Apprehension Inventory. Think-aloud protocols were also conducted with case studies from the experimental group.

Results suggest that direct instruction of goal-setting and planning strategies do influence the composing process and the quality of student writing. In some cases, this instruction also serves to alleviate writing anxiety. The study has implications for classroom practice and student writing competence.