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Social Sciences

Supporting Weaker Writers

1 September 2012 - 31 December 2013

PI/s in Exeter: Professor Debra Myhill

CI/s in Exeter: Dr Susan Jones

Funding awarded: £ 31,870

Sponsor(s): Pearson Education Ltd

About the research

A previous national study, conducted by University of Exeter research team, had found that embedding relevant grammar meaningfully within the context of writing had a significant effect on the attainment of writing in students in the intervention group (Myhill et al 2012; Jones et al 2013).  One finding, however, was that statistical analysis showed that able writers made a stronger rate of improvement than weaker writers, and the reason for this was not clear.  One reason may have been simply that the able writers’ rate of improvement was sharper because they flat-lined in the comparison group: in other words, they made little or no improvement over the year.  Another reason may have been that the grammar addressed in the teaching units addressed more effectively the writing needs of able writers rather than those of weaker writers.  This study, Supporting Weaker Writers,  set out to investigate the latter possibility by designing an intervention which adopted the embedded grammar approach but which directly addressed the identified writing needs of weaker writers.  The results indicated a positive statistically significant benefit to these writers, though not as strong an effect as in the larger study.