National Writing Project

Improving Literacy Across the Curriculum: A Study of Instructional Development

By: Anne Campos, Roger Peach
Date: November 1, 2011

Summary: This study investigates how the New York City Writing Project's professional development for teachers contributed to instructional practices across the curriculum and to student writing outcomes. Of special note, the study found that students who had high exposure to Writing Project teachers made significantly greater gains across writing prompt administrations than those students who had moderate or little exposure to NYCWP through their teachers.


Excerpt from Report

Teachers who had contact with the NYCWP teacher-consultant implemented NYCWP literacy practices, which include valuing students' voices, using writing-to-learn strategies, and viewing writing as a recursive process. These teachers' practices reflected the NYCWP emphasis on student-centered pedagogy as a means of developing students' reflective thinking and conceptual understanding across subject areas. In turn, students who had high exposure to NYCWP made significantly greater gains in writing prompt scores than those in the other two groups combined.

Our results not only support the conclusion that it is necessary to develop writing across the curriculum in order to obtain significant gains in students' writing scores but also demonstrate the importance of implementing consistent approaches to literacy development schoolwide, in order to support student achievement. Interviews with the school's administrators and the NYCWP teacher-consultant who worked on site suggest that there is still some distance between the NYCWP's expectations for a writing-intensive school and the school administration's goals for students' literacy development. However, by encouraging writing across the curriculum, the NYCWP has taken an important first step toward creating a writing-intensive school.

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