National Writing Project

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Research - Writing

Featured Resources

Three New Books Aim to Provide Comprehensive Reviews of Research in Writing

December 2007
Elizabeth Radin Simons
These books review the last thirty years' research on the teaching of writing and offer a bonanza of knowledge about writing for both researchers and practitioners. More ›

TR 24. Exploring the Cognition of Reading-to-Write

National Center for the Study of Writing and Literacy Technical Report, May 2003
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. More ›

TR 29. Negotiating Academic Discourse

National Center for the Study of Writing and Literacy Technical Report, 2003
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. More ›

 

Additional Resources

The Intradisciplinary Influence of Composition and WAC, Part Two: 1986–2006

The WAC Journal, July 2012
Karla Lyles, Chris M. Anson
In the second part of their study of Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC), Chris M. Anson and Karla Lyles continue to track how the WAC movement developed and examine how writing was taught in a range of disciplines in the years 1986–2006. More ›

Book Review: Writing in the Academic Disciplines: A Curricular History (2nd ed.), by Russell

The Quarterly, 2003
Jim Addison
Jim Addison reviews Writing in the Academic Disciplines: A Curricular History (2nd edition) by David R. Russell. More ›

From Communion to Communication: Connecting Heart and Brain in the Learning Process

The Quarterly, Spring 2003
Richard L. Graves, Sherry Swain
In this case study, Sherry Swain and Richard Graves demonstrate the idea that for skill learning to stick it needs to have an emotional component. "Learning at its best grows out of the moment . . . it is both communal and individual and . . . it occurs naturally." Working with first-grader DeScott and his classmates, the authors illustrate how their "dialogic" approach leads students to take chances and experiment with language much in advance of grade level expectations. More ›

Book Review: Saying and Silence: Listening to Composition with Bakhtin by Frank Farmer

The Quarterly, Winter 2002
Christian Knoeller
More ›

Book Review: A Composition of Consciousness, by Patricia H. Perry

The Quarterly, Summer 2001
Monie Hayes
Monie Hayes reviews A Composition of Consciousness: Roads of Reflection from Freire to Elbow, by Patricia H. Perry. More ›

Mina P. Shaughnessey: Her Life and Work, by Jane Maher

The Quarterly, Spring 1999
Melanie Hammer
Hammer reviews this biography of the influential author of Errors and Expectations, finding that Maher creates a three-dimensional portrait of the woman who was in some ways "the mother of all developmental educators." More ›

Literacy and Numeracy in a Changing Workplace

The Quarterly, Spring 1996
Mark Jury, Mira Katz
In this study of a workplace environment, the writers conclude that preparation for the current and future workplace will include experience in collaboration as well as effective listening, reading for information, locating information, etc. More ›

TR 71. Writing Children: Reinventing the Development of Childhood Literacy

National Center for the Study of Writing and Literacy Technical Report, 1995
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. More ›

TR 72. Nerds, Normal People, and Homeboys: Asian American Students and the Language of School Success

National Center for the Study of Writing and Literacy Technical Report, 1995
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. More ›

TR 73. Children Out of Bounds: The Power of Case Studies in Expanding Visions of Literacy Development

National Center for the Study of Writing and Literacy Technical Report, 1995
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. More ›

Revisited article: Re-embedding "Disembedded" Visions of Young Children's Writing Dev't

The Quarterly, Winter 1995
Anne Haas Dyson
In this 1988 Quarterly piece Anne Haas Dyson discusses the theories of Russian developmental psychologist Lev Vygotsky, looks at children's use of writing, drawing and talking in early schooling—with recorded examples from her classes—and considers the implications, for teacher of writing to young children, of the developmental picture that emerges. Children, she maintains, must come to view texts not as mere representations of meaning but as places where meaningful social interactions can occur. More ›

TR 51-B. Annotated Bibliography of Research on Writing in a Non-Native Language Part II

National Center for the Study of Writing and Literacy Technical Report, 1992
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. More ›

TR 61. The Development of Writing Abilities in a Foreign Language: Contributions Toward a General Theory

National Center for the Study of Writing and Literacy Technical Report, 1992
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. More ›

TR 46. Plain Language for Expert or Lay Audiences: Designing Text Using Protocol-Aided Revision

National Center for the Study of Writing and Literacy Technical Report, 1991
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. More ›

TR 47. Transforming Texts: Constructive Processes in Reading and Writing

National Center for the Study of Writing and Literacy Technical Report, 1991
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. More ›

TR 49. Visions of Children as Language Users: Research on Language and Language Education in Early Childhood

National Center for the Study of Writing and Literacy Technical Report, 1991
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. More ›

TR 51. Annotated Bibliography of Research on Writing in a Non-Native Language

National Center for the Study of Writing and Literacy Technical Report, 1991
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. More ›

TR 53. The Case of the Singing Scientist: A Performance Perspective on the "Stages" of School Literacy

National Center for the Study of Writing and Literacy Technical Report, 1991
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. More ›

TR 54. Bilingual Minorities and Language Issues in Writing: Toward Profession-Wide Responses to a New Challenge

National Center for the Study of Writing and Literacy Technical Report, 1991
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. More ›

TR 55. Writing from Sources: Authority in Text and Task

National Center for the Study of Writing and Literacy Technical Report, 1991
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. More ›

TR 56. Collaboration and the Construction of Meaning

National Center for the Study of Writing and Literacy Technical Report, 1991
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. More ›

OP 17. Toward a Dialectical Theory of Composing

National Center for the Study of Writing and Literacy Occasional Paper, 1990
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. More ›

OP 18. Cognitive Processes in Creativity

National Center for the Study of Writing and Literacy Occasional Paper, 1990
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. More ›

TR 45. Effects of Controlled, Primerese Language on the Reading Process

National Center for the Study of Writing and Literacy Technical Report, 1990
Herbert D. Simons, Paul Ammon, Charles Elster
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. More ›

TR 42. The Word and the World: Reconceptualizing Written Language Development

National Center for the Study of Writing and Literacy Technical Report, April 1990
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. More ›

TR 38. Theory Building in Rhetoric and Composition: The Role of Empirical Scholarship

National Center for the Study of Writing and Literacy Technical Report, January 1990
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. More ›

TR 39. Document Design from 1980 to 1990: Challenges That Remain

National Center for the Study of Writing and Literacy Technical Report, January 1990
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. More ›

TR 40. Reading, Writing, and Knowing: The Role of Disciplinary Knowledge in Comprehension and Composing

National Center for the Study of Writing and Literacy Technical Report, March 1990
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. More ›

OP 08. Writing and Reading in the Community

National Center for the Study of Writing and Literacy Occasional Paper, 1989
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. More ›

OP 11. Cognition, Context, and Theory Building

National Center for the Study of Writing and Literacy Occasional Paper, 1989
Linda Flower
Flower advocates an integrated theoretical vision to explain the interaction between context and cognition in the writing process. More ›

OP 12. Construing Constructivism: Reading Research in the United States

National Center for the Study of Writing and Literacy Occasional Paper, 1989
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. More ›

TR 20. Forms of Writing and Rereading from Writing: A Preliminary Report

National Center for the Study of Writing and Literacy Technical Report, July 1989
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. More ›

TR 34. Planning in Writing: The Cognition of a Constructive Process

National Center for the Study of Writing and Literacy Technical Report, July 1989
Linda J. Carey, Christina Haas, John R. Hayes, Karen A. Schriver, Linda Flower
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. More ›

TR 36. “Once-Upon-a-Time” Reconsidered: The Developmental Dialectic Between Function and Form

National Center for the Study of Writing and Literacy Technical Report, July 1989
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. More ›

TR 21. Studying Cognition in Context: Introduction to the Study

National Center for the Study of Writing and Literacy Technical Report, May 1989
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. More ›

TR 22. Promises of Coherence, Weak Content, and Strong Organization: An Analysis of the Student Text

National Center for the Study of Writing and Literacy Technical Report, May 1989
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. More ›

TR 28. The Cultural Imperatives Underlying Cognitive Acts

National Center for the Study of Writing and Literacy Technical Report, May 1989
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. More ›

OP 04. The Construction of Purpose in Writing and Reading

National Center for the Study of Writing and Literacy Occasional Paper, 1988
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. More ›

OP 01. Interpretive Acts: Cognition and the Construction of Discourse

National Center for the Study of Writing and Literacy Occasional Paper, 1987
Linda Flower
Flower elucidates a cognitive framework for understanding the acts of reading and writing, contrasting it with other frameworks from other disciplines. More ›

TR 05. Properties of Spoken and Written Language

National Center for the Study of Writing and Literacy Technical Report, May 1987
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. More ›

Integrating Writing Research

The Quarterly, October 1987
John R. Hayes
More ›

TR 11. Punctuation and the Prosody of Language

National Center for the Study of Writing and Literacy Technical Report, October 1987
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. More ›

The Discipline of Composition: Making Students Smarter

The Quarterly, November 1980
Sheridan Blau
More ›

Book Review: Research on Composing: Points of Departure, ed. by Charles Cooper and Lee Odell

The Quarterly, December 1978
Catharine Keech
More ›

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