National Writing Project

The National Center for the Study of Writing and Literacy: Occasional Papers and Technical Reports

The National Center for the Study of Writing and Literacy (NCSWL), an educational research center sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education, has completed its mission and no longer functions as an independent entity. NCSWL's collection of occasional reports and technical papers may be obtained through the National Writing Project.

Abstracts for all technical reports and occasional papers are available below. You may prefer to consult the list of abstracts pertaining to a particular topic or instructional level. However, please note the lists are on the NCSWL website, and you must return to this page to order papers or download PDF versions.

Technical Reports

TR 01-B. Critical Challenges for Research on Writing and Literacy
By Anne Haas Dyson, Sarah Warshauer Freedman
This review of research on writing and literacy discusses challenges in educating the nation's diverse populations. The authors connect the research findings to the mission of the National Center for the Study of Writing. February, 1991; 40 pages.

TR 01-C. Ten Years of Research: Achievements of the National Center for the Study of Writing and Lit
By Linda Flower, Sarah Warshauer Freedman, John R. Hayes, Glynda Hull
This report summarizes the contributions made to writing research over the past ten years by the National Center for the Study of Writing and Literacy. May 1995; 38 pages.

TR 01. Research in Writing: Past, Present, and Future
By Wallace Chafe, Anne Haas Dyson, Linda Flower, Sarah Warshauer Freedman
This paper reviews the past twenty years of writing research in order to posit a social- cognitive theory of writing and the teaching and learning of writing. (Note: For an updated version of this literature review for a broader audience, see Occasional Paper No. 20.) August, 1987; 61 pages.

TR 02. Unintentional Helping in the Primary Grades: Writing in the Children's World
By Anne Haas Dyson
Dyson explores children's classroom social lives, as revealed during journal time in a first/second grade class.. May, 1987; 29 pages.

TR 03. A Good Girl Writes Like a Good Girl: Written Response and Clues to the Teaching/Learning Process
By Sarah Warshauer Freedman, Melanie Sperling
The authors present a case study of a high-achieving student in a ninth-grade English class, exploring and analyzing sources of the student's misunderstanding of teacher-written response to her writing. May, 1987; 18 pages.

TR 04. Historical Overview: Groups in the Writing Classroom
By Anne DiPardo, Sarah Warshauer Freedman
The authors review research on peer groups in the writing class. They discuss the role of groups in the collaborative process of language learning and suggest directions for future research on collaborative learning. September, 1987; 17 pages.

TR 05. Properties of Spoken and Written Language
By Wallace Chafe, Jane Danielewicz
The authors discuss important linguistic features that characterize different types of spoken and written language, from dinner conversations to academic papers. They analyze the reasons for these language differences. May, 1987; 27 pages.

TR 06. The Role of Task Representation in Reading-to-Write
By Linda Flower
Flower examines the ways different college writers interpret a "standard" writing task, demonstrating how students construct different representations of a task, leading to differences in their texts and their writing process. June, 1987; 35 pages.

TR 07. A Sisyphean Task: Historical Perspectives on the Relationship Between Writing and Reading Instruction
By Geraldine Joncich Clifford
Using perspectives drawn from American educational and social history, Clifford identifies historical forces that have influenced English education. September, 1987; 47 pages.

TR 08. Writing and Reading in the Classroom
By James Britton
Britton discusses strategies teachers have developed for encouraging children to learn to write-and-read—activities that together create a literacy learning environment. August, 1987; 25 pages.

TR 09. Individual Differences in Beginning Composing: An Orchestral Vision of Learning to Write
By Anne Haas Dyson
Looking in depth at three first-graders during classroom journal time, Dyson explores the interconnections of the children's speaking, writing, and drawing as indications of their developing acquisition of written language. August, 1987; 28 pages.

TR 10. Movement into Word Reading and Spelling: How Spelling Contributes to Reading
By Linnea C. Ehri
Drawing on studies of the role of spelling in the reading process, Ehri discusses ways in which spelling contributes to the development of reading and, conversely, how reading contributes to spelling development. September, 1987; 15 pages.

TR 11. Punctuation and the Prosody of Language
By Wallace Chafe
Chafe explores the relationship between what he calls the covert prosody of writing (that which in speech would be elements such as pitch, accents, and rhythms) and the relation of this prosody to punctuation. October, 1987; 32 pages.

TR 12. Peer Response Groups in Two Ninth-Grade Classrooms
By Sarah Warshauer Freedman
Freedman looks at peer response groups in two ninth-grade college preparatory classrooms, analyzing how students' face-to-face interactions reveal how they approach their writing processes. October, 1987; 29 pages.

TR 13. Writing and Reading: The Transactional Theory
By Louise M. Rosenblatt
This report focuses on some epistemologically based concepts concerning the comparison of the reading and writing process that Rosenblatt believes merit fuller study and application in teaching and research. January, 1988; 20 pages.

TR 14. National Surveys of Successful Teachers of Writing and Their Students
By Sarah Warshauer Freedman, Alex McLeod
The authors collected self-report survey data from successful elementary and secondary teachers of writing and from a sample of secondary students in the U.K. to parallel Freedman's 1987 U.S. survey data. May, 1988; 49 pages.

TR 15. Negotiating Among Multiple Worlds: The Space/Time Dimensions of Young Children's Composing
By Anne Haas Dyson
In this examination of the drawing, talking, and writing of primary students, Dyson focuses on children's growing awareness of text time and space as they develop as authors of fictional prose. May, 1988; 36 pages.

TR 16. How the Writing Context Shapes College Students' Strategies for Writing from Sources
By John R. Hayes, Jennie Nelson
This study explores processes college students use to write assigned research papers. August, 1988; 22 pages.

TR 17. Written Rhetorical Syntheses: Processes and Products
By Margaret Kantz
Kantz analyzes the composing processes and written products of three undergraduates and gives quantitative analyses of a group of seventeen undergraduate research papers. January, 1989; 26 pages.

TR 18. Readers as Writers Composing from Sources
By James R. King, Nancy Nelson Spivey
This study examines the report-writing of sixth-, eighth-, and tenth-graders, showing how accomplished and less accomplished readers work with source texts and compose their own new texts. February, 1989; 30 pages.

TR 19. Rethinking Remediation: Toward a Social-Cognitive Understanding of Problematic Reading and Writing
By Glynda Hull, Mike Rose
The authors reveal what writing strategies, habits, rules, and assumptions characterize the writing skills of underprepared community college students and suggest a pedagogy to move such students toward more conventional discourse. May, 1989; 16 pages.

TR 20. Forms of Writing and Rereading from Writing: A Preliminary Report
By June Barnhart, Joyce Hieshima, Elizabeth Sulzby
The authors report on a study of young children's use of five emergent forms of writing—scribble, drawing, nonphonetic letter strings, phonetic or invented spelling, and conventional orthography. July, 1989; 34 pages.

TR 21. Studying Cognition in Context: Introduction to the Study
By Linda Flower
This report introduces the Reading-to-Write project, which examined the cognitive processes of reading-to-write as they were embedded in the social context of a college course. May, 1989; 42 pages.

TR 22. Promises of Coherence, Weak Content, and Strong Organization: An Analysis of the Student Text
By Margaret Kantz
This report describes the ways that readers saw the structures in a set of freshman essays and discusses the problems the judges had in agreeing on how some students had interpreted the writing assignment. May, 1989; 35 pages.

TR 23. Students' Self-Analyses and Judges' Perceptions: Where Do They Agree?
By John Ackerman
This report summarizes student accounts of how they composed a first draft and then compares and contrasts how students and teachers evaluated the same essay. May, 1989; 29 pages.

TR 24. Exploring the Cognition of Reading-to-Write
By Victoria Stein
This report describes how a comparison of the think-aloud protocols of 36 students showed differences in ways students monitored their comprehension, elaborated, structured the reading, and planned their texts. May, 1989; 39 pages.

TR 25. Elaboration: Using What You Know
By Victoria Stein
This report provides a look at the process of elaboration that allows students to use prior knowledge, not only for comprehension and critical thinking, but also for structuring and planning their papers. May, 1989; 24 pages.

TR 26. The Effects of Prompts upon Revision: A Glimpse of the Gap Between Planning and Performance
By Wayne C. Peck
This report analyzes the think-aloud protocols and finished texts of students asked to revise a written assignment. May, 1989; 26 pages.

TR 27. Translating Context into Action
By John Ackerman
This report describes the initial reading strategies nearly every freshman in Ackerman's study used. From this point, students then had to construct a solution path that may or may not have used this initial approach. May, 1989; 31 pages.

TR 28. The Cultural Imperatives Underlying Cognitive Acts
By Kathleen McCormick
The author uses protocols and interviews to set reading-to-write in a broad cultural context that explores some of the cultural imperatives that might underlie particular cognitive acts. May, 1989; 37 pages.

TR 29. Negotiating Academic Discourse
By Linda Flower
This report discusses the difficulties experienced by many college freshmen as they seek to negotiate the transition from a writing process based on comprehension and response to a more fully rhetorical, constructive process. May, 1989; 43 pages.

TR 30. Expanding the Repertoire: An Anthology of Practical Approaches for the Teaching of Writing
By Kathleen McCormick
These classroom approaches help students explore their assumptions about their reading and writing processes, become more aware of the cognitive and cultural implications of their choices, and find alternative approaches to the writing task. May, 1989; 77 pages.

TR 31. Strategic Differences in Composing: Consequences for Learning Through Writing
By Ann M. Penrose
Penrose reports on a study of college freshman writers in which she identifies those features of the writing process that may influence learning. May, 1989; 18 pages.

TR 32. Foundations for Creativity in the Writing Process: Rhetorical Representations of Ill-defined Problems
By Linda J. Carey, Linda Flower
This paper examines the composing process of expert writers working in expository genres. Taking a problem-solving perspective, the authors address the concept of creativity in writing as it is embedded in ordinary cognitive processes. June, 1989; 30 pages.

TR 33. Social Context and Socially Constructed Texts: The Initiation of a Graduate Student into a Writing Research Community
By John Ackerman, Carol Berkenkotter, Thomas N. Huckin
The authors examine a case-study doctoral student's writing development as he learns how to produce the type of academic prose valued by the professional community. July, 1989; 22 pages.

TR 34. Planning in Writing: The Cognition of a Constructive Process
By Linda J. Carey, Linda Flower, Christina Haas, John R. Hayes, Karen A. Schriver
This paper describes the process adult writers bring to ill-defined expository tasks such as writing essays, articles, reports, and proposals, and presents a theory of constructive planning based on analyses of expert and novice writers. July, 1989; 55 pages.

TR 35. Differences in Writers' Initial Task Representations
By Linda J. Carey, Linda Flower, Christina Haas, John R. Hayes, Karen A. Schriver
This exploratory study investigates how writers represent their task to themselves before beginning to write. July, 1989; 28 pages.

TR 36. "Once-Upon-a-Time" Reconsidered: The Developmental Dialectic Between Function and Form
By Anne Haas Dyson
This essay traces the evolution of "once-upon-a-time" in a case study of a child's classroom story writing, demonstrating how the story forms young children learn from others are catalysts for development. July, 1989; 30 pages.

TR 37. I want to Talk to Each of You: Collaboration and the Teacher-Student Writing Conference
By Melanie Sperling
Sperling examines teacher-student writing conferences in a ninth grade English class for six case-study students, showing how collaboration between teacher and student encourages students' learning as writers. October, 1989; 56 pages.

TR 38. Theory Building in Rhetoric and Composition: The Role of Empirical Scholarship
By Karen A. Schriver
This paper discusses the assumptions underlying empirical approaches to scholarship in rhetoric and composition. Shriver advocates a pluralism that focuses on how well particular perspectives or methods are used. January, 1990; 15 pages.

TR 39. Document Design from 1980 to 1990: Challenges That Remain
By Karen A. Schriver
Schriver discusses the recent evolution of document design (the theory and practice of creating comprehensible, usable, and persuasive texts), identifies challenges in integrating research with practice, and suggests a research agenda for document design. January, 1990; 31 pages.

TR 40. Reading, Writing, and Knowing: The Role of Disciplinary Knowledge in Comprehension and Composing
By John Ackerman
To explore how experienced writers use both knowledge of a specific discipline and knowledge of general rhetorical skills, Ackerman analyses 40 synthesis essays written by graduate students in psychology and business. March, 1990; 42 pages.

TR 41. Evaluating Text Quality: The Continuum from Text-Focused to Reader-Focused Methods
By Karen A. Schriver
Schriver discusses three methods for evaluating text quality: text-focused, expert-judgment-focused, and reader-focused, and concludes that reader-focused approaches offer the best opportunity for detecting problems in a text. March, 1990; 36 pages.

TR 42. The Word and the World: Reconceptualizing Written Language Development
By Anne Haas Dyson
Dyson suggests five principles characterizing written language development that highlight the dialectical relationship between child construction and adult guidance, and discusses their implications for early literacy instruction. April, 1990; 29 pages.

TR 43. "This Was an Easy Assignment": Examining How Students Interpret Academic Writing Tasks
By Jennie Nelson
This study examines how thirteen college freshmen interpreted writing assignments in a variety of courses and how these interpretations differed from the intentions of the instructors making the assignments. October, 1990; 28 pages.

TR 44. Remediation as Social Construct: Perspectives from an Analysis of Classroom Discourse
By Marisa Castellano, Kay Losey Fraser, Glynda Hull, Mike Rose
The authors examine ways in which notions of learners as remedial can be played out in the classroom. They look at one college student and detail the processes by which she is defined as remedial. February, 1991; 30 pages.

TR 45. Effects of Controlled, Primerese Language on the Reading Process
By Paul Ammon, Charles Elster, Herbert D. Simons
The authors rewrote four primerese stories from basal readers to use more natural language. They then compared the effects of the two versions on the reading process and comprehension of first-graders. December, 1990; 22 pages.

TR 46. Plain Language for Expert or Lay Audiences: Designing Text Using Protocol-Aided Revision
By Karen A. Schriver
This paper argues for a redefinition of plain English and suggests a method for assessing whether or not a text is indeed clear to its intended readership. February, 1991; 38 pages.

TR 47. Transforming Texts: Constructive Processes in Reading and Writing
By Nancy Nelson Spivey
This paper focuses on the complex processes involved when writers compose from sources—processes in which writing influences reading and reading influences writing. February, 1991; 24 pages.

TR 48. Dialogues of Deliberation: Conversation in the Teacher-Student Writing Conference
By Melanie Sperling
Sperling focuses on three students in a ninth grade English class as they converse individually with their teacher about their ongoing writing. She examines how such conversations contribute to the process of learning to write. May, 1991; 25 pages.

TR 49. Visions of Children as Language Users: Research on Language and Language Education in Early Childhood
By Anne Haas Dyson, Celia Genishi
The authors discuss how a vision of young children as active participants in a community has been reflected in and has helped shape research themes and current issues in language arts education. June, 1991; 30 pages.

TR 50. A Teacher-Research Group in Action
By Rafael Ramirez, Sandra R. Schecter
Based on a two-year study of a university-affiliated teacher-research group, this article addresses the support teachers need to conduct classroom research, the effects of becoming researchers, and the knowledge teacher research can provide. June, 1991; 14 pages.

TR 51-B. Annotated Bibliography of Research on Writing in a Non-Native Language Part II
By Jane Stanley
This annotated bibliography of research in second language writing updates and supplements Sandra R. Schecter and Linda A. Harklau's Annotated Bibliography of Research on Writing in a Non-Native Language, published in 1992.

TR 51. Annotated Bibliography of Research on Writing in a Non-Native Language
By Linda A. Harklau, Sandra R. Schecter
This annotated bibliography reviews more than 170 research studies on the needs of non-native speakers of English and their instruction in the area of writing. September, 1991; 66 pages.

TR 52. Planning Text Together: The Role of Critical Reflection in Student Collaboration
By Linda Flower, Lorraine Higgins, Joseph Petraglia
The authors argue that student collaboration does not necessarily foster critical reflection in writing tasks; however, those who engage in reflective thinking as a result of collaboration are more likely to produce high-quality plans. September, 1991; 26 pages.

TR 53. The Case of the Singing Scientist: A Performance Perspective on the "Stages" of School Literacy
By Anne Haas Dyson
This case study looks at an African-American child in an urban K/1 classroom who used writing activities to perform, rather than simply to communicate. The study examines the links between oral performance and literacy pedagogy. September, 1991; 34 pages.

TR 54. Bilingual Minorities and Language Issues in Writing: Toward Profession-Wide Responses to a New Challenge
By Guadalupe Valdes
Valdes criticizes compartmentalization within the composition profession, identifies different types of bilingual individuals, and reviews trends in current scholarship in second-language writing. October, 1991; 38 pages.

TR 55. Writing from Sources: Authority in Text and Task
By Stuart Greene
Fifteen undergraduates were asked to write either a report or a problem-based essay, integrating prior knowledge with information from six textual sources. The groups differed significantly in their interpretation and performance of the two tasks. October, 1991; 32 pages.

TR 56. Collaboration and the Construction of Meaning
By Linda Flower, Lorraine Higgins
This study explores the writing processes of a group of college freshmen. The authors look at students' planning as acts of construction and negotiation and raise questions about the role students' strategic knowledge plays. December, 1991; 74 pages

TR 57. Technological Indeterminacy: The Role of Classroom Writing Practices in Shaping Computer Use
By Cynthia Greenleaf
This study examines the integration of computers into a remedial high school English class, concluding that the teacher's writing instruction had the greatest impact on student writing and the ways computers entered into writing. January, 1992; 40 pages.

TR 58. Composition in the Context of CAP: A Case Study of the Interplay Between Assessment and School Life
By Peggy Trump Loofbourrow
This study examines the impact of a large-scale writing assessment on the life of one junior high school, analyzing how teachers and administrators at the school prepared students for this assessment. January, 1992; 30 pages.

TR 59. Constructing a Research Paper: A Study of Students' Goals and Approaches
By Jennie Nelson
This study of twenty-one college freshmen considers the processes involved in writing an academic research paper to determine whether “high-investment” reading and writing processes such as note-taking led to higher-quality papers. February, 1992; 16 pages.

TR 60.Collaboration Between Children Learning to Write: Can Novices be Masters?
By Colette Daiute, Bridget Dalton
The authors analyze individual and collaborative stories produced by low-achieving urban third-graders to illustrate that children can learn and use complex story elements by working with their peers. April, 1992; 54 pages.

TR 61. The Development of Writing Abilities in a Foreign Language: Contributions Toward a General Theory
By Maria Paz Echevarriarza, Paz Haro, Guadalupe Valdes
The authors test the assumptions propagated by the Foreign Language Proficiency Guidelines, analyzing writing produced by university students studying Spanish at three levels of proficiency. April, 1992; 30 pages.

TR 62. Nested Contexts: A Basic Writing Adjunct Program and the Challenge of "Educational Equity,"
By Anne DiPardo
This study examines one university's efforts to promote the academic success of underrepresented minority students through a basic writing adjunct program. May, 1992; 50 pages.

TR 63. "Whistle for Willie," Lost Puppies, and Cartoon Dogs: The Sociocultural Dimensions of Young Children's Composing, or Toward Unmelting Pedagogical Pots
By Anne Haas Dyson
Drawing on data from an urban elementary school, Dyson suggests that the "process" approach to teaching writing may be too rigidly implemented to allow for the needs of young writers in multicultural classrooms. June, 1992; 30 pages.

TR 64. Ideological Divergences in a Teacher Research Group
By Shawn Parkhurst, Sandra R. Schecter
The authors focus on differing ideologies of research, teaching/learning, and writing held by members of a teacher research group, providing evidence that divisions exist within the teacher research movement that are intellectually and socially important. October, 1992; 30 pages.

TR 65. Student Portfolios and Teacher Logs: Blueprint for a Revolution in Assessment
By Robert C. Calfee, Pam Perfumo
The authors present a new concept of alternative assessment: the teacher logbook, designed to support and effectuate the portfolio approach and to connect portfolios to other facets of teacher professionalization. April, 1993; 12 pages.

TR 66. Linking Classroom Discourse and Classroom Content: Following the Trail of Intellectual Work in a Writing Lesson
By Sarah Warshauer Freedman, Cynthia Greenleaf
The authors analyze a whole-class interaction in a ninth grade English classroom, revealing its underlying intellectual structure, the cognitive skills required for successful student participation in the activity, and the strategies students apply to the task. September, 1993; 42 pages.

TR 67. From Invention to Social Action in Early Childhood Literacy: A Reconceptualization through Dialogue about Difference
By Anne Haas Dyson
Dyson contrasts dominant assumptions about appropriate developmental practices (i.e., invented spelling, process writing) with children's interpretations of those practices, interpretations grounded in children's social and cultural worlds. September, 1993; 17 pages.

TR 68. Crossing the Bridge to Practice: Rethinking the Theories of Vygotsky and Bakhtin
By Sarah Warshauer Freedman
The author's study of secondary school classrooms in the US and Britain reveals that when teachers apply the theories of Vygotsky and Bakhtin, these theories are not always useful guides for classroom practice. May, 1994; 16 pages.

TR 69. Implications of Cognitive Psychology for Authentic Assessment and Instruction
By Robert C. Calfee
Calfee offers a brief historical sketch of developments in the psychology of learning as the basis for presenting an assessment model that relies on teacher judgments for both internal and external accountability. May, 1994; 22 pages.

TR 70. The Ninjas, the X-Men, and the Ladies: Playing with Power and Identity in an Urban Primary School
By Anne Haas Dyson
Dyson analyzes children's symbolic and social use of superhero stories—popular media stories that vividly reveal societal beliefs about power and gender which are themselves interwoven in complex ways with race, class, and physical demeanor. August, 1994; 20 pages.

TR 71. Writing Children: Reinventing the Development of Childhood Literacy
By Anne Haas Dyson
Dyson reviews new visions of language and of development that acknowledge human sociocultural and ideological complexity, offering a concrete illustration of writing children as social and ideologically complex beings. April 1995; 38 pages.

TR 72. Nerds, Normal People, and Homeboys: Asian American Students and the Language of School Success
By Stanford T. Goto
Goto examines how a group of high-achieving Chinese American high school freshmen perceive themselves as learners and group members and how these perceptions relate to existing research on Asian American success. June 1995; 30 pages

TR 73. Children Out of Bounds: The Power of Case Studies in Expanding Visions of Literacy Development
By Anne Haas Dyson
Dyson argues for the value of case studies in developing understanding of how children learn to write. She concludes that case studies provide contextual complexities and a depth of detail unavailable through other research methodologies. June 1995; 34 pages.

Occasional Papers

OP 01. Interpretive Acts: Cognition and the Construction of Discourse
By Linda Flower
Flower elucidates a cognitive framework for understanding the acts of reading and writing, contrasting it with other frameworks from other disciplines. September, 1987; 18 pages.

OP 02. What Good Is Punctuation?
By Wallace Chafe
This paper discusses ways that punctuation reflects both a reader's and writer's "internal voice," offering insights about the assumptions that lie behind the use of punctuation in writing. November, 1987; 6 pages.

OP 03. Drawing, Talking and Writing: Rethinking Writing Development
By Anne Haas Dyson
This paper discusses how children negotiate multiple worlds: the text world they create, the social world they share with their peers; and the wider experienced world. February, 1988; 26 pages.

OP 04. The Construction of Purpose in Writing and Reading
By Linda Flower
This paper discusses two interrelated concerns: how writers find their sense of purpose, and whether readers are aware of or are affected by writers' purposeful text construction. July, 1988; 21 pages.

OP 05. Writing and Reading Working Together
By Rebekah Caplan, Linnea C. Ehri, Mary K. Healy, Mary Hurdlow, Robert J. Tierney
Drawing on their teaching experience and research perspectives, the authors discuss specific classroom practices in which writing and reading work together. August, 1988; 37 pages.

OP 06. Narrative Knowers, Expository Knowledge: Discourse as Dialectic
By Anne DiPardo
DiPardo explores the schism between narrative and exposition and argues that instruction which fosters a "grand leap" away from narrative into expository prose denies students the development of a complex way of knowing. January, 1989; 34 pages.

OP 07. The Problem-Solving Processes of Writers and Readers
By Betsey Bowen, Bertram C. Bruce, Linda Flower, Margaret Kantz, Ann M. Penrose, Ann S. Rosebery
The authors focus on writing and reading as forms of problem solving that are shaped by communicative purpose, for example problems incurred in writing for a specific audience or reading to interpret text. January, 1989; 30 pages.

OP 08. Writing and Reading in the Community
By Jenny Cook-Gumperz, Marcia Farr, Robert Gundlach
This paper reviews recent scholarship on writing and reading in the community and explores these literacies as social practices with implications for writing and reading instruction in school. March, 1989; 41 pages.

OP 09. Bridges: From Personal Writing to the Formal Essay
By James Moffett
Moffett discusses the transition from writing personal experience themes to writing formal essays. He presents a schema that groups different writing types and shows their connections. March, 1989; 19 pages

OP 10.Contextual Complexities: Written Language Policies for Bilingual Programs
By Carole Edelsky, Sarah Hudelson
learning to write always happens in multiple and complex contexts, the authors argue for governmental policies for bilingual education that are broad and nonspecific, with local policies dictated by local situations. June, 1989; 16 pages.

OP 11. Cognition, Context, and Theory Building
By Linda Flower
Flower advocates an integrated theoretical vision to explain the interaction between context and cognition in the writing process. May, 1989; 27 pages.

OP 12. Construing Constructivism: Reading Research in the United States
By Nancy Nelson Spivey
Constructivism portrays the reader as building a mental representation from textual cues. This paper reviews research on these aspects of reading and assesses the impact of constructivism on reading-related issues. June, 1989; 24 pages.

OP 13. Must Teachers Also Be Writers?
By Vivian Gussin Paley
Paley provides examples of her classroom experiences with kindergartners, showing how keeping a daily journal helps her to understand her students, their learning, and her own teaching. September, 1989; 17 pages.

OP 14. Shirley and the Battle of Agincourt: Why It Is So Hard for Students to Write Persuasive Researched Analyses
By Margaret Kantz
Kantz connects recent research on expository writing with a discussion of common student problems in writing a term paper. November, 1989; 25 pages.

OP 15. A Whole Language Approach to the Teaching of Bilingual Learners
By Alex Moore
Two London teachers and a fifteen-year-old immigrant Bangladeshi student work together on drafts of the student's autobiography, illustrating how sensitive teaching can contribute to the development of writing skills for nonnative speakers. January, 1990; 18 pages.

OP 16. Using Student Writing to Assess and Promote Understandings in Science
By Paul Ammon, Mary Sue Ammon
This paper suggests that writing assignments can be a rich source of information for science teachers who wish to take their students' present understandings into account as they plan instruction. January, 1990; 6 pages.

OP 17. Toward a Dialectical Theory of Composing
By Stuart Greene
Greene criticizes neglect, in theories of knowledge, of ways that individuals construct meaning. He calls for a theory that acknowledges social and ideological forces as well as cognitive processes in explaining how students learn to write. January, 1990; 19 pages.

OP 18. Cognitive Processes in Creativity
By John R. Hayes
Hayes argues that differences in people's ability to define problems or to recognize opportunities for creative solutions have their origin not in innate cognitive abilities but rather in motivation and hard work. January, 1990; 15 pages.

OP 19. Weaving Possibilities: Rethinking Metaphors for Early Literacy Development
By Anne Haas Dyson
Dyson argues that we must attend not only to the vertical "scaffolding" of young children's efforts but also to the horizontal "weaving" of their diverse intentions and resources. July, 1990; 19 pages.

OP 20. On Teaching Writing: A Review of the Literature
By Anne Haas Dyson, Sarah Warshauer Freedman
The authors review research about writing that may help focus teachers' observations, deepen their insights, and inform their crucial decisions about classroom practice. (Note: For a more complete and technical version of this literature review, see Technical Report No. 1.) July, 1990; 44 pages.

OP 21. Redefining Revision for Freshmen
By John R. Hayes, David L. Wallace
This study investigates the impact of explicit instructions on the revising strategies of college freshmen. Wallace and Hayes find that students who received instruction on how to revise globally produced better revisions than students simply asked to revise. July, 1990; 10 pages.

OP 22. "This Wooden Shack Place": The Logic of an Unconventional Reading
By Glynda Hull, Mike Rose
The authors analyze an interaction between Rose and a student in a remedial college composition class, illustrating the role of conversation as a way of making meaning when discussing literature. December, 1990; 10 pages.

OP 23. Changing Views of Language in Education and the Implications for Literacy Research: An Interactional Sociological Perspective
By Jenny Cook-Gumperz, John J. Gumperz
In examining classroom language, the authors suggest a perspective which sees this language as a process of verbal communication that includes culture-bound and contextual knowledge. December, 1990; 22 pages.

OP 24. Language Minority Education in Great Britain: A Challenge to Current U.S. Policy
By Sarah Warshauer Freedman, Sandra Lee McKay
The authors compare British and U.S. policies for educating language minority students, suggesting the British decision to place language minority students in “mainstreamed” classrooms challenges the U.S. policy of separate programs for nonnative speakers. January, 1991; 16 pages.

OP 25. Peeking Out from Under the Blinders: Some Factors We Shouldn't Forget in Studying Writing
By John R. Hayes
This essay reminds educators and researchers of the range of factors that have a crucial impact on how writers write. It combats a narrowing of focus as researchers become preoccupied with more specialized research interests. February, 1991; 16 pages.

OP 26. High School English and the Teacher-Student Writing Conference: Fine-Tuned Duets in the Ensemble of the Classroom
By Melanie Sperling
Sperling examines some of the teacher-student conferences in an urban ninth grade English classroom and concludes that teachers' brief conversations with individual students can play an important role in writing instruction. May, 1991; 10 pages.

OP 27. Evaluating Writing: Linking Large-Scale Testing and Classroom Assessment
By Sarah Warshauer Freedman
To help bridge the gap between teachers of writing and the testing and measurement community, Freedman describes several portfolio assessment programs that offer models for ways to strengthen both large-scale evaluation and classroom instruction. May, 1991; 20 pages.

OP 28. A Social Perspective on Informal Assessment: Voices, Texts, Pictures, and Play from a First Grade
By Anne Haas Dyson, Sarah Merritt
The authors show how a teacher can use the materials produced in a classroom's community to search for clues that clarify how and what children are learning and how teachers might best support that learning. September, 1991; 24 pages.

OP 29. Mining Texts in Reading to Write
By Stuart Greene
Greene proposes a set of strategies for connecting reading and writing, discussing ways writers read and select information from source texts when they have a sense of authorship. October, 1991; 18 pages.

OP 30. Untracking Advanced Placement English: Creating Opportunity Is Not Enough
By Joan Kernan Cone
Cone describes the changes she made when she opened up her advanced placement English class at an urban high school to any students willing to commit to a rigorous regimen of reading and writing. April, 1992; 10 pages.

OP 31. Writing Matters
By Sarah Warshauer Freedman, Fred Hechinger
This paper, written for a general audience, outlines and synthesizes research findings of the National Center for the Study of Writing and Literacy and discusses the implications of these findings for teachers, parents, students, and policymakers. June, 1992; 10 pages.

OP 32. From Prop to Mediator: The Changing Role of Written Language in Children's Symbolic Repertoires
By Anne Haas Dyson
Dyson argues there is no linear progression in written language development in early childhood; rather, written language emerges most strongly when embedded within a child's total symbolic repertoire such as drawing and playing. September, 1992; 22 pages.

OP 33-B. Video Resources for the Teaching of Literacy: An Annotated Bibliography
By James E. Lobdell, Sandra R. Schecter
The authors review video resources in literacy education with an emphasis on videos that feature teachers and learners in action. October, 1995; 32 pages.

OP 34. Community Literacy
By Linda Flower, Lorraine Higgins, Wayne C. Peck
The authors examine the social and historical context of urban settlement houses and propose guiding principles that have emerged after five years of reflecting on community literacy in practice while working in a settlement house. January, 1994; 40 pages.

OP 35. Confronting the Split between "The Child" and Children: Toward New Curricular Visions of the Child Writer
By Anne Haas Dyson
Dyson uses everyday school experiences to reconstruct our image of “the child.” She suggests that rethinking dominant images might help teachers better meet curricular challenges to reflect the diversity of the children they teach. May, 1994; 20 pages.

OP 36. Moving Writing Research into the 21st Century
By Sarah Warshauer Freedman
Freedman argues that writing research benefits by inclusiveness. Using her research on learning to write in inner-city schools, Freedman shows how research on the learning of diverse populations pushes educators to elaborate existing theories. May, 1994; 14 pages.

OP 37. What's Involved?: Setting Up a Writing Exchange
By Sarah Warshauer Freedman
This paper describes a writing exchange pairing classes in San Francisco and London. Writing substantial pieces for a distant but real audience helped students to care about their writing and make significant strides as writers. June, 1994; 26 pages.

OP 38. School Reform through Examinations: Lessons from the British Experience
By Sarah Warshauer Freedman
Freedman considers the effects of the British examination system on English language and literature learning. She concludes that high-stakes examinations present a flawed foundation on which to build an educational reform movement. June, 1994; 12 pages.

OP 39. Ahead to the Past: Assessing Student Achievement in Writing
By Robert C. Calfee
This paper outlines recent developments in the area of assessment, including standardized achievement tests and alternative forms of assessment such as writing portfolios. August, 1994; 10 pages.

OP 40. Revealing the Teacher-as-Reader: A Framework for Discussion and Learning
By Melanie Sperling
Sperling offers a framework for thinking about the perspective teachers bring to reading students' writing, identifying five ways that one teacher reader oriented herself to her student writers and their writing. March, 1995; 12 pages.

OP 41. . . . And Justice for All
By Griselle M. Diaz-Gemmati
This teacher-researcher describes the friction when her students explored themes of racism through literature and writing, then recounts how students were able to work through differences and come to a new understanding of one another. June 1995; 24 pages.


The National Center for the Study of Writing and Literacy (NCSWL), one of the educational research centers sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education, has completed its mission and no longer functions as an independent entity. The Center was based at the Graduate School of Education of the University of California at Berkeley, with a site at Carnegie Mellon University. You may still visit NCSWL's website, however, please note that some of the information may no longer be current.

© 2014 National Writing Project