The Effects of Two Instructional Approaches In the Training of a Strategy For Organizing Knowledge For a Writing Task

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education

First Advisor

Lawrence L. Smith

Advisor Department

Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education


This study investigated the effects of intensive and less intensive instruction in the use of a planning strategy on the overall quality and coherence of texts written by students of low-writing ability who differed in prior knowledge. The strategy was that of organizing knowledge students had gained from reading texts and of utilizing this knowledge for the production of expository texts. Seventy-seven 11th and 12th grade students were administered a reading-writing task for the purpose of differentiating them according to levels of topic-specific knowledge and writing ability. The task consisted of: (a) a topic-specific measure of prior knowledge, (b) a reading passage, and (c) a writing assignment, serving as pretest data and analyzed for writing quality and coherence of texts. Thirty-nine of the 48 students specified as low-writing students of high or low knowledge served as subjects and were randomly assigned to intensive or less intensive instructional groups. The two types of instruction consisted of three training sessions involving (a) a reading passage, (b) instruction in the strategy, and (c) a writing assignment. The assignment of the last training session served as the posttest data. Using two-way analysis of covariance procedures, it was found that: (a) levels of instruction in the strategy significantly improved writing quality (p < .05); (b) instructional levels did not improve text coherence; (c) writing quality and coherence were not affected by prior knowledge, or by some interaction between knowledge and instruction. A post hoc t-test revealed that text coherence improved significantly (p < .001). Results of this investigation implied that training in the planning strategy can be effective (a) in improving text coherence and, when instruction is intensive, (b) in improving the quality of texts written by students of low-writing ability.