Research: Students Need to Spend More Time Writing
- By Dian Schaffhauser
has suggested just a quarter of students in middle school and high
school write for at least 30 minutes a day, a minimum standard set by
learning experts for the development of writing skills. According to
a nonprofit that works to improve the effectiveness of K-12
education, persuasive writing, specifically, is being neglected "to
an alarming degree." Only 15 percent of eighth-graders and 13
percent of twelfth-graders said they do argumentative writing every
week, even though this is a skill that educators have found critical
for success in college and career.
study used survey data collected from the 2011
National Assessment of Educational progress (NAEP)
writing assessment, the first large-scale computer writing assessment
done by NAEP and the most recent one available. In that assessment,
students in grades
were assigned two writing tasks, done in a word processing program.
Afterwards, they and their teachers took surveys to provide context
about the instructional experience.
eighth grade, 38 percent of teachers weekly ask students to "write
to explain" and 39 percent ask them to "write to convey
may be that persuasive writing is "complex and time-intensive,"
wrote Program Director Aigner Picou in the report. "Ineffective
school schedules could inhibit a teachers' ability to allocate time
for students to do more persuasive writing."
research also has suggested that schools aren't "making writing
a priority," she added. "Schools need to give more time and
attention to student writing, and they can start by increasing the
amount of time students spend writing, both at home and in school."
project also offered found that students don't write "across the
curriculum." They spend little time outside of English language
arts classes on the activity. In math, for example, 84 percent of
eighth-graders and 89 percent of twelfth-graders spend less than 30
minutes writing per week. The statistics are similar for science and
Black and Hispanic students
are more likely to be graded on "mechanics and conventions"
(25 percent) compared to 18 percent of White students. A potential
explanation for this, Picou wrote, is that Black and Hispanic
students were "more likely to have accents, dialectic
differences or speak another language at home, which educators may
classify as deficient."
urged schools to "give writing more time and attention." As
she noted, "Increasing the amount of time students spend
writing, both at home and school, has significant implications for
improving writing outcomes. Providing students with many and
different opportunities to write builds familiarity with the writing
process. If students are comfortable with writing, they are likely to
become stronger, better writers."
full report is openly available on
the Learning Agency Lab website.
Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.