Exploration of Automated Writing Strategy Instruction for Adolescent Writers Using the Writing Pal

Project: Research project

Project Details


Exploration of Automated Writing Strategy Instruction for Adolescent Writers Using the Writing Pal Exploration of Automated Writing Strategy Instruction for Adolescent Writers Using the Writing Pal RFA Topic and Goal: Reading and Writing, Exploration Goal Purpose: The purpose of this project is to explore how the instructional components of the Writing Pal (W-Pal), in relation to student individual differences, can enhance students writing strategy acquisition and writing proficiency. This project will also help us identify key logistical barriers to implementation that arise when W-Pal is deployed with large numbers of students. W-Pal was developed over three years by an interdisciplinary team of psychologists, writing educators, linguists, and computer scientists. The system offers strategy instruction, game-based practice, essay writing practice, and formative feedback based on automated essay scoring. Strategy instruction is provided via focused lesson videos taught by animated characters. Over a dozen unique and engaging educational games have been developed to support strategy practice. Students can also practice writing complete essays, and receive scaffolded, formative feedback on how to improve their writing. Setting and Population: Participants will be 9th-12th grade students currently enrolled in local, urban high schools (Phoenix, AZ area). Students are expected to display socioeconomic and ethnic diversity, with a high number of English-language learners. Two correlational studies will be conducted within the high schools. Laboratory experiments will recruit high school students who will participate in research activities on the Arizona State University campus. Methodology: In two correlational studies (no control group), W-Pal will be made available to schools and teachers to be integrated within their writing curriculum over one school year. In several experimental studies, we will manipulate the format of W-Pals strategy instruction, practice, and feedback components and assess the effects on strategy acquisition. For example one study will compare the differential effects of game-based practice, non-game practice, and essay-based practice. Measures will include written essays, tests of strategy knowledge, questionnaire measures of writing self-efficacy and attitudes, the Gates-MacGinitie test of reading, and measures of students use and perceptions of W-Pal. Given the exploratory nature of this project, our strategy will be to separately examine questions about univariate (or small multivariate) models of relationships between three sets of variables: individual differences, system use, outcome measures of writing quality and strategy use. For correlational studies, hierarchical multiple regression models will be used to examine linear relationships between sets of variables. Experimental studies will examine mean differences across groups via between groups MANOVAs and repeated-measures ANOVAs. ANCOVAs will be used when covariates are included to address individual differences Outcomes: This research is expected to inform how and whether students individual differences mediate their use and learning from the W-Pal. Students who are more or less-skilled in reading or writing, or who possess more or less positive attitudes toward writing, are expected to benefit from W-Pal in different ways. Moreover, studies will also reveal how teachers and students use W-Pal in authentic classroom. Taken together, the proposed project is expected to facilitate preparation for a subsequent, successful Efficacy Goal project, by informing us about the most appropriate methods and conditions for implementing W-Pal to benefit diverse learners.
Effective start/end date7/1/126/30/18


  • US Department of Education (DOEd): $1,600,000.00


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