Nationally, as well as at state and local level, 75% of students in Grades 4, 8 and 12 have been determined to be writing at the basic or below basic level. In 2012, the standards were made more stringent for the incorporation of details and adherence to customary English conventions. After that, students’ writing scores plummeted. Hispanic students scored more poorly than their White counterparts. Earlier studies indicated that students’ attitude towards writing becomes less positive as they progress through the grades. The purpose of the study was to examine the effect of extra writing on 60 fourth-grade, Hispanic students’ writing, and their attitude towards writing through participation in a Writers’ Club versus an At Home Writing Group or a group with no extra writing.
The study followed a quasi-experimental, pretest-posttest, non-equivalent group design. The groups were the Writers’ Club (n = 22), the At Home Writing Group (n = 18 and no extra writing (n = 20). All students received regular writing instruction and homework. The Writers’ Club met 24 times for 30 minutes each meeting, over an 8-week period. Pretest and posttest writing samples were evaluated using Spandel’s Teacher Six-Point Writing Guide and attitude towards writing was evaluated using Kear, Coffman, McKenna, and Ambrosio’s Writing Attitude Survey.
A univariate analysis of covariate was conducted on the pretest and posttest writing samples and responses to the Writing Attitude Survey protocol. The independent variable was group membership, the dependent variable was the posttest scores and the covariate was the pretest scores. The writing samples were examined for three conditions: incorporation of details (ideas), adherence to the conventions of customary English and overall writing skill.
The results of the current study showed no significant difference in fourth-grade, Hispanic students’ writing or their attitude towards writing based on group membership. The conclusions of the study are that the results were potentially compromised by a variety of limitations and that it may have been conducted over too short a period for positive effects to be seen. The conclusion is that further research is warranted with adjustments to the setting and the timeframe.