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Supporting Strategic Writers: An Evidence-Based Approach

Many entering community college students are required to take non-credit developmental courses in reading and/or writing, but only a minority complete these courses and pass a first- year composition course. Active efforts are addressing this problem with structural reforms to placement procedures, integration of reading and writing, and co-requisite courses. But little research has focused on pedagogical methods for teaching writing and reading. Since 2010, our research group, with funding from the US Department of Education, has been developing and evaluating instructional approaches for developmental writing and reading based on self- regulated strategy instruction. Research over nine years has consistently found strong effects on writing quality and motivation. The instructional approaches are adaptable to co-requisite courses and even first-year composition.

The goals of the Supporting Strategic Writers (SSW) approach are widely shared – that students will develop knowledge of academic genres; strategies for critical reading, planning and revising; and the motivational beliefs that support continued critical reading and writing in the future (Rose, 1989; Shaughnessy, 1977). In short, the goal is for students to take control of the writing process and their own learning. Students learn genre-based strategies based on the rhetorical purposes, text structures, and linguistic features of genres (e.g., argument, causal explanation) to guide planning and revising, as well as critical reading and note-taking. The strategies provide an initial map for students unsure about how to engage in the writing process. Equally important, students learn metacognitive, self-regulation strategies for goal- setting, task management, progress monitoring, and reflection. Self-evaluation and reflection on one’s progress are critical to developing a growth mindset (Yeager & Dweck, 2012) that learning is possible with effort and strategic choices. Pedagogical methods include discussion of model essays, think-aloud modeling of strategies, collaborative writing, peer review and self-evaluation, reflective journaling, and class discussion.


Writing Instruction for Success in College and in the Workplace

Publisher: Teachers College Press

Research Studies

We are currently welcoming partnerships for professional and research collaborations. Such collaborations can benefit teachers’ instruction and students’ writing achievement. Further, such collaborations  advance the knowledge of the research community on “what works” in real setting and with real students long-term!

Workshops & PD


We provide workshops and professional development sessions on writing instruction (i.e., on integration of reading and writing, on text-based responses, on sentence-construction skills). Our “hands-on” instructional approach is based on strategy instruction and self-regulation. Sessions include lecture, demonstration lessons, videos, and opportunities for practice.

SSW Overview
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