Research-Based Writing Intervention

Are Writing Student resources research-based?

elementary girl writing at her desk

Yes!  5 recommendations from research are put into practice:

  1. Scaffolding
  2. Task repetition
  3. Models and exemplars
  4. Graphic organizers
  5. Feedback




Defined as:  Anticipating where students may get stuck and responding in such a way that keeps the cognitive load in the control of students.   Over time, the use of scaffolds fades as the learner gains the knowledge needed and moves onto the next level of understanding.


“Scaffolded supports provide temporary assistance to students so they can successfully complete tasks that they cannot yet do independently and with a high rate of success. . .”  (High Leverage Practice #15)


According to Visible Learning by John Hattie, scaffolding has an effect size of 0.82.


What it looks like: Supports that are tailored to a student’s level such as . . .

  • Planning checklists with sentence starters
  • Questions to guide brainstorming and planning
  • Models to teach structure
  • Graphic organizers
  • Tasks broken down into small chunks
  • Leveled (differentiated) writing paper
  • Editing checklists


Task Repetition


Students need to be exposed to new information several times in order to internalize it.  Rehearsal means going over material until you can remember it.  Review involves going over things you have learned previously. 


Giving students multiple exposures to each genre of writing (with multiple prompts), gives students time to practice and improve.  John Hattie found that having students practice things led to a 26 percentile improvement in their marks (Killian, S.). 



Models and Exemplars


Students learn from model texts by analyzing the features and structure of the text, and by applying that knowledge to their own writing.


Students are able to incorporate more of the genre’s characteristics into their writing, as well as generate more ideas and produce longer pieces of writing. 


In one study, students in the “models group” scored significantly higher on organization than students without models.  (Charney, D., 1995)



Graphic Organizers


When used as a writing tool, graphic organizers help students organize their thoughts and structure their writing. 


Robert Marzano found that you can explicitly teach deeper levels of understanding by using graphic organizers.  You can use graphic organizers to show how different ideas are related to each other (e.g. steps, cause-effect, hierarchy, lists, comparisons, etc.) (Killian, S.). 


John Hattie (2008) reviewed findings from five meta-analyses on graphic organizers that produced an average effect size of d = 0.57.





According to John Hattie (2019),  “A ‘where to next’ or ‘how to improve this work’ comment is necessary for student improvement.


Editing checklists facilitate self-assessment and teacher feedback on what was done well and what can be improved next time. 




Charney, D., & Carlson, R. (1995). Learning to write in a genre: What student writers take from model texts.  Research in the Teaching of English, 29, 88-125.


Hattie, J. (2008). Visible learning: A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement. London, England: Routledge.


Hattie, J.A. & Clarke,S. (2019). Visible learning: Feedback. Routledge.


Killian, S. 8 Strategies Robert Marzano & John Hattie Agree On.


McLeskey, J., Barringer, M-D., Billingsley, B., Brownell, M., Jackson, D., Kennedy, M., Lewis, T., Maheady, L., Rodriguez, J., Scheeler, M. C., Winn, J., & Ziegler, D. (2017, January). High-leverage practices in special education. Arlington, VA: Council for Exceptional Children & CEEDAR Center. © 2017 CEC & CEEDAR


Nitta, R. & Baba, K. (2018). Understanding benefits of repetition from a complex dynamic systems perspective: The case of a writing task. 10.1075/tblt.11.11nit.


Troia, G. (2014). Evidence-based practices for writing instruction (Document No. IC-5). Retrieved from University of Florida, Collaboration for Effective Educator, Development, Accountability, and Reform Center website: