The Effect of Frames on the Writing Fluency of 8th grade Students with Learning Disabilities
Edwin Ellis & Kevin Feldman
Most states assess process writing skills of students in elementary, middle, and high schools. The limited amount of writing produced on essays by students with learning disabilities is a common factor that has contributed to their high failure rates on these assessments. Lack of writing fluency can be attributed to a number of factors, including limited knowledge of the topic about which students are attempting to write, limited vocabulary, poorly developed language skills, and poorly developed process writing strategies.
The purpose of this study was to examine the effectiveness of teaching students how to utilize a specific visual device, called a “Frame” (see figures below), paired with a task-specific process writing strategy called “PLANS” on the writing fluency of 8th grade students with learning disabilities.
The study used a pre-test / post-test with control group format. Subjects consisted of 32 8th grade students classified as LD and 20 typical achieving students. The students with LD were randomly assigned to either an experimental group or control group.
Pre-test writing fluency measures were taken on all three groups. The Experimental group then received, in general education language arts classrooms, approximately 30 minutes of instruction per day for 10 days in the use of the Frame and PLANS writing strategy for writing expository essays (e.g., explain why…). The
Control group received, in general education classrooms, traditional language arts instruction in
process writing. Post-test measures of writing fluency were then attained from students in the
Experimental and Control groups.
Fluency measured were attained by counting the number of words produced in essays written by
students during simulated high-stakes writing conditions.
Writing-fluency measures of typical-achieving students were taken to establish
“typical achievement” in writing fluency, typical-achieving 8th grade students . These students
produced an average of 117 words in essays written during the simulated high-stakes writing
assessment conditions. Students with LD assigned to the control group produced an average of 26
words on pre-test measures and 24 on post-test measures, thus no differences were found. Students
with LD in the Experimental group
produced an average of 29 words
on pre-test fluency
measures, and an
average of 126 words on
the post-test measures,
demonstrating an increase
of 97 words. (see figure).
Results of the study dramatically
illustrate the validity of teaching
students with LD to use the Frame and
PLANS writing strategy on measures
of writing fluency. Important to note is
that following instruction in use of these
writing tools, the writing fluency scores
of students with LD actually exceeded
that of typical achieving students who
receive traditional language arts