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The Supporting Strategic Writers (SSW) Project is funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences to design and evaluate instructional approaches to meet the needs of college students who are underprepared for college writing. Considerable research in the past ten years has focused on structural reforms of developmental education, such as changes in placement procedures and co-requisite courses. However, little research has focused on pedagogical methods for teaching writing and reading. Since 2010, our research group has been working collaboratively with community college faculty to develop instructional approaches for writing and reading and then to test them in rigorous experimental studies. Our research over ten years has consistently found strong effects on writing quality and motivation.

Our instructional approaches have been designed to align with the requirements of first-year composition and the writing demands of other college courses. Thus, the instructional approaches are adaptable to co-requisite courses and even first-year composition. As our work continues, we are eager to collaborate with community college faculty to adapt our instructional approaches to multiple contexts.



Charles A. MacArthur

Principal Investigator

Dr. Charles MacArthur is Professor at the University of Delaware. He has conducted research on writing development and instruction for over 25 years and directed or co-directed ten federally funded research projects on writing and reading instruction. He was named an AERA Fellow in 2020. He has published over 125 articles and book chapters and co-edited or written several books, including the Handbook of Writing Research, Best Practices in Writing Instruction, and Adult Education Literacy Instruction: A Review of the Research. 

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Zoi Traga Philippakos

Co-Principal Investigator

Dr. Zoi A. Traga Philippakos is Assistant Professor at University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Her research interests include reading and writing instruction, interdisciplinary literacy, strategy instruction with self-regulation, and approaches to professional development for classroom teachers.  She received the Inaugural Alumni Award from the University of Delaware in 2017 and the Early Career Achievement award from the Literacy Research Association (LRA) in 2019. She has co-authored five books on writing and reading instruction as well as over 25 chapters and research articles. She chaired the Writing Task Force for the International Literacy Association and led the Writing Research Study Group in LRA since 2010.


Henry May

Co-Principal Investigator

Dr. Henry May is Director of the Center for Research in Education and Social Policy (CRESP) and Associate Professor at the University of Delaware. He specializes in the application of modern statistical methods and mixed methods in randomized experiments and quasi-experiments studying the implementation and impacts of educational and social interventions and policies.

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