Date of Award

1999

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Education Honours

Faculty

Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Dr Amanda Blackmore

Abstract

ADHD and learning difficulties are associated with limitations in working memory capacity which may disrupt performance of writing skills. This thesis investigated teaching strategies to improve story-writing skills in five students with ADHD and learning difficulties in writing. The strategies were based on the view that these students would write more effectively if the task imposed fewer constraints on working memory capacity (the ability to store information while performing a task). Students were taught to write stories under time constraints using the PW2R approach of five minutes to plan, five to draft and five to review. Students planned orally during the first few weeks, then learned to plan by writing their ideas into a web diagram. Students finally learned to plan by using teacher-prescribed headings denoting conventional story structure. The 12 story elements were written into a "wheel" shaped diagram, forming the prompt for students' ideas on the set topic. Specific gains were linked to the introduction of two spatial planning strategies. Four students wrote longer stories containing more ideas when using the self-generated web strategy, and four students wrote stories containing more story elements using the wheel strategy which incorporated story elements. Two students maintained gains regardless of strategy use, and two maintained gains only when using the written planning strategy. It appears that individual differences should be taken into account in instruction and task design, and that task modification can help to improve the quantity and quality of writing. Results showed that students improved written expression skills after less than 15 hours of instruction, distributed across a 20-week period. Overall progress may be linked to teaching factors held constant, such as simplifying the writing task into component sub-tasks, individualising instruction and providing graduated prompts, facilitating accurate, guided and independent practice, and providing specific feedback.

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