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The Effects of Strategy and Self-Regulation Instruction onStudents’ Writing Performance and Behavior: A PreventativeApproach (Project WRITE)

Abstract

Self-Regulated Strategy Development (SRSD) has been highly effective in improving the writing performance of students with learning disabilities and other struggling writers, but its impact on the writing performance and collateral effects on behavior for students at high risk for serious behavior disorders (SBD) is not determined. This is unfortunate given that students with SBD, in addition to demonstrating social skills deficits and interfering problem behaviors, also have academic deficits--particularly in writing.

Recently, schools have attempted to meet the needs of students within the context of school-wide models of positive behavior support . Many Positive Behavior Support models, however, are not able to effectively identify and support students who need secondary interventions. Project WRITE proposes to (a) modify SRSD instructional procedures to meet the behavioral needs of second-grade students at high-risk for SBD who also have poor writing skills and (b) examine the feasibility and effectiveness of implementing this program within the context of a three-tiered Positive Behavior Support model. Specifically, Project WRITE works within schools' Positive Behavior Support models to identify the extent to which SRSD (a) improves the writing skills of second-grade students at high risk for SBD and low writing performance and (b) results in concomitant improvement in behavioral performance.

To meet these goals, we will conduct three studies in up to eight elementary schools located in rural Williamson County, Tennessee. Empirically-validated tools are used to identify students at high risk for SBD (externalizing and internalizing) and poor writing skills. In Study 1, single case methodology will be used to examine the effectiveness of SRSD (modified to provide behavioral support) with two different genres for second-grade students with externalizing (n = 12) and internalizing (n = 12) behaviors. In addition, collateral effects of this instruction on classroom behavior (e.g., engagement, disruption) during writing time is examined. In Study 2, SRSD will be modified based on observations and findings from Study 1 and a randomized field trial will be conducted using the modified intervention with 80 second-grade students with internalizing and externalizing behaviors who also have poor writing skills (40: SRSD; 40 control: regular school practices in writing). In Study 3, another randomized field trial (n=120) involving small group instruction, rather than the individual implementation used in Study 1 and 2, will be conducted. Participants in each group will include three students: one with internalizing behaviors and writing problems, one with externalizing behaviors and writing problems, and one with typical behaviors who has writing problems. Studies 1 and 2 will include standardized and curriculum-based writing measures as well as rating scales and behavioral observations.

Data will be analyzed using multivariate procedures (HLM). The progressive nature of the studies allows us to systematically examine the effectiveness of the proposed treatment, making modification to improve the intervention as needed while moving from individualized to small group delivery.