Research in writing instruction and assessment: Current and needed research to improve student writing

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Author: MJ Outcault-Hill, Robert Caldwell

Issue: Fall Issue, 2017

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Discussions among educators at almost any level will invariably result in one point of agreement: students at all levels are under-prepared in writing skills. Unfortunately, this is a conclusion that also predominates much of the research literature on the improvement of student writing as well. Despite the importance attached to high-stakes academic writing skills, research has contributed little insight about the challenges students face with academic writing tasks. Llosa, Beck, and Zhao (2011) point out that the National Commission on Writing in America’s Schools and Colleges found that this lack of understanding of the writing process was so significant that they identified writing as, the “Neglected ‘R’ (National Commission on Writing, 2003; Llosa, Beck and Zhao, 2011). In the following paper, authors Caldwell and Outcault Hill present a broad review of the areas of research into the writing process and assessment of writing and suggest areas where further research is needed. Their discussion focuses on 1) Research related to the influence of Cognitive function on the writing process, 2) Research into teaching various genres such as exposition, argument, narrative, analysis, and creative writing, 3) Research on the assessment of writing, and finally, 4) Research on alternative teaching methods.