Talking back and writing: Using a speech synthesiser and strategy
instruction with students who have difficulty writing.

Year: 1992

Author: Wilkinson, Lois, Anderson, Bill

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Children with learning difficulties in New Zealand constitute a mainstreamed group for whom there is variable recognition in terms of finance and resources (including teachers) to meet their special sets of needs. Children who are experiencing difficulties with writing receive little regular, additional or remedial instruction. However in later grades at school, writing assumes an increasingly important role as more and more evaluation of subject areas is based on the content accuracy and logic of a written product. Logical writing and the skills basic to this are therefore requisite skills for all students. In North America research that has focussed on the compositions and writing processes of students with learning disabilities shows that these students at all levels are less productive or fluent (Nodine, Barenbaum & Newcomer, 1985) and that their compositions are less cohesive (Newcomer & Barenbaum, 1991) and contain more errors of both transcriptional and syntactical nature. Rather than narrowing as students mature, the gap between composition achievement of students with difficulties and those without tends to increase (Houck & Billingsley, 1989). The reason for this increase is likely to lie in a combination of factors. Metacognitive interviews with students with writing difficulties showed that their understanding of the planning processes involved in the production of a piece of writing was incomplete (Wong, Wong & Blenkinsop, 1989). These students had a limited conception of the nature of revision, concentrating mainly on mechanical errors in punctuation and spelling, rather than on text-meaning alterations (Graham, Harris, McArthur & Schwartz, 1991). Further, they did not reflect on the goal of their piece of writing and had more difficulty than other students of similar age in maintaining a holistic plan. The lack of specific remedial instruction in writing for these students is suggested by several researchers (e.g. Christenson, Thurlow, Ysseldyke, & McVicar, 1989) as a factor in their failure to improve. This is supported by the reports of positive effects on productivity, cohesiveness and accuracy when specific instruction in aspects of writing have been used in intervention (Lynch & Jones, 1989).