Development Stage (2010-2013)
The design research included three cycles of design, implementation, evaluation, and revision over 2 years (MacArthur & Philippakos, 2013).
The design research also included development of a measure of motivation for writing that assessed four aspects of motivation: goals, self-efficacy, beliefs, and affect (MacArthur, Philippakos, & Graham, 2015).
This study involved 2 colleges, 13 instructors (16 classes), and 276 students (48% minority, 10% non-native English speakers). The treatment was compared to control classes that received typical instruction for a full semester; classes were not randomly assigned but were comparable on demographics and pretest writing. The SSW curriculum had a large effect on quality of argumentative writing (ES = 1.22), but no significant effect on grammar. It also had a large effect on self-efficacy (confidence) and a moderate effect on mastery motivation. (MacArthur, Philippakos, & Ianetta, 2015).
Efficacy Study (2016-2017)
A rigorous experimental study was conducted at 2 community colleges with 19 instructors randomly assigned within college to treatment and control, and 207 students (62% female; 57% minority, 12% non-native English speakers). Instruction provided for a full semester. The SSW approach had a very large effect on quality of writing (ES = 1.75, equivalent to the average treatment student being at the 90th percentile of the control group). It also had a moderately large effect on a standardized writing assessment (NAEP) (ES=0.67). As before, we also found a positive effect on self-efficacy for writing. (MacArthur, Philippakos, May, & Compello, 2019).
Efficacy Study (2018-2019)
The most recent study investigated an enhanced version of the curriculum with a focus on writing using sources and, thus, more emphasis on integrating critical reading with writing. At two community colleges, 23 instructors were randomly assigned within college to treatment and control; 243 students participated. Instruction was provided for a full semester. Preliminary analysis focused on the primary outcome measure – an argumentative essay using two source articles. A moderate effect was found on quality of essays with sources (ES=.58, p < .001). Complete analysis is in progress.
Study of an Accelerated Course (2018-19)
This quasi-experimental study evaluated an adapted version of the course that met 4 days a week for 4 weeks at the start of the semester, leaving time for an 11-week credit composition class. Five instructors (2 T, 3 C) and 65 students participated. The SSW approach had a large effect on the quality of argumentative essays with sources (ES = 0.97). The study was the doctoral dissertation of Eric Nefferdorf, one of the instructor-collaborators at the beginning of our research in 2010.