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Creating Compositions Using a Technology-Based Writing Tool:Supporting Students with Universal


The goal of this project is to develop and formatively evaluate the Composition Builder (CB), a web-based, guided-process writing tool that supports students in grades 6-8 in writing persuasive and expository compositions. Ensuring that students master effective writing requires a standards-based supported, digital writing environment that maximizes instructional impact for students with different learning needs, strengths and challenges. The proposed tool will incorporate the process-writing approach and the principles of Universal Design for Learning by including: (a) research-based writing strategies, (b) supports and scaffolds available throughout the writing process, (c) opportunities to engage in social collaboration around writing, and (d) built-in progress monitoring using Curriculum-Based Measurement.

The project team intends to develop the CB, which will integrate research-based writing instruction strategies into a single writing environment with embedded writing tools and supports, such as a concept mapping for planning, virtual writing strategy coaches, and opportunities for teacher and peer feedback. In the tool development phase researchers will use design-based research to iteratively develop, program, and refine the components of the web-based writing tool. Over the course of the project, researchers will investigate whether the proposed tool can support students as they learn to write, whether it can be integrated into regular classroom instruction, and whether it shows promise for improving writing outcomes. A pilot study will investigate the overall promise of the writing tool on student writing outcomes and teacher instructional practices.