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$1.8 Million Grant to Improve Writing Skills in Students with Behavior Disorders

Linda Mason and Rick Kubina will study the writing skills of students with behavior disorders, through a partnership with local school teachers and the support of other researchers.

 

By Katlyn McGraw (March 2007)

mason_linda.jpgUNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Assistant professor Linda Mason and associate professor Rick Kubina have been awarded a $1.8 million grant to study the writing skills of students with behavior disorders, through a partnership with local school teachers and the support of other researchers. 

The grant, which was awarded by the United States Department of Education, will provide funding for the project from June 1, 2007 to May 31, 2011. During this time, teachers in the State College Area, Altoona Area, Eastern Lancaster, and Fairfax (Va.) County school districts will use the “Self-Regulated Strategy Development” instructional writing approach.

kubina_sml.jpgStudents and teachers will work in groups with their research mentored reading or writing teacher for varying time periods. Instruction will occur during 20–25 thirty-minute sessions plus 18 ten-minute sessions. Pre- and post-evaluations will also be completed, bringing the total intervention time to approximately four months per group. Additionally, assessments will be conducted with students in the following months and year where possible to determine the students’ maintenance of learning the writing strategies.

According to the original grant proposal, the purpose of this project is to “investigate the effectiveness of writing strategy and fluency instruction on the written expression and writing fluency performance of 7th and 8th grade students with behavior disorders in general education and alternative settings who are struggling with writing.”

Additionally, the purpose is to improve student on-task behavior, as well as student attitudes and teacher perspectives about writing instruction. The project will also reduce absence from instruction (absences, tardiness, time-outs, disciplinary referrals) and negative teacher and student statements in regard to the learning process.

Expected results include advancement of knowledge in effective instruction for students with behavior disorders, improvements in student writing, improvement in teacher delivery of writing instruction, more positive student behavior, and improved teacher beliefs in teaching this special population of students.

Mason is the project's primary researcher. Co-researchers include Kubina as well as partners at several other universities.