National Writing Project

Legacy Study

Through its collective work and that of the many individuals whose professional lives have been touched by it, the NWP has extended its influence throughout the education profession in deep and profound ways. Using a mixed methods approach, the Legacy Study examines the professional experiences and contributions of those who participated in local writing project sites over the period 1974–2006. The Legacy Study represents a systematic effort to assess and document the National Writing Project's investment in teachers as educational leaders.

Included in the study are the results of a widely distributed survey that documents the career paths of thousands of education leaders. The survey also probes the manner in which participation in writing project work has influenced educators' approaches to professional activities and responsibilities. To date, 5,534 individuals who participated in summer institutes from 1974 to 2006 have completed this professional history survey.

Legacy 2

As a follow-up to the survey, 110 respondents, selected randomly from all those who expressed willingness to be interviewed, participated in two-hour semistructured interviews. The interviews examined their current work, their own reflections on their professional history, their involvement with the writing project, its influence on them as leaders and writers, and their influence and contributions to other individuals and to the field.

Legacy 3

The NWP conducted case study research to examine the influence and reach of those who have participated in the writing project by focusing on ten individuals included in the first two phases of the Legacy research. The case studies were based on interviews with additional informants, observation of events, and analysis of documents to help illuminate the focal individuals' work, the influence of the writing project upon their professional pursuits, and the contributions made through those pursuits.

Legacy 4

The fourth phase of the Legacy research comprises the NWP Early History Project. It returns to the early history of the NWP (1974–1991) in order to examine the context in which the NWP model took hold, focusing particularly on the essential elements that gave rise to a lasting national network for teacher development.

The study addresses each of several potentials: a pivotal focus on the teaching of writing both as a discipline and as a field of research; writing to foster learning and institutional transformation; the centrality of professional collaboration in the growth of both literacy and professional competence; the value of university/school partnerships; the necessity of professional learning communities in support of teachers' growth and development; the efficacy of peer leadership in instructional improvement; and writing itself as a form of inquiry.

Results

Making a Difference: The National Writing Project's Inculcation of Leadership Over 30 Years

December 2008
This paper examines the professional experiences and contributions of participants in the NWP during the first 20 years of NWP's life. It focuses on how the NWP exerted an influence over large numbers of individuals as they matured into leaders within the profession.

The National Writing Project Legacy Study

July 2007
NWP's Legacy Study examines the professional experiences and contributions of those who participated in local writing project sites over the period 1974–1994. The study represents a systematic effort to assess and document the NWP's investment in teachers as educational leaders.

Building and Sustaining Capacity: Teacher Leadership and Instructional Improvement in the NWP

July 2007
The authors propose a research agenda to examine teacher leadership within the NWP that focuses on teacher-consultants and their work, the place of content and instructional practice, leadership development and support in the NWP, and the organization's approach to teacher leadership as investment in educational improvement.

Questions

For more information about the study, please contact research@nwp.org.

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