The Writing Processes of College Students With and Without Learning Disabilities: A Protocol Analysis

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Edwards, Cynthia Ann
Graham, Steve
Azevedo, Roger
ABSTRACT Title of dissertation: THE WRITING PROCESS OF COLLEGE STUDENTS WITH AND WITHOUT LEARING DISABILITIES: A PROTOCOL ANALYSIS. Cynthia A. Edwards, Doctor of Philosophy, 2005 Dissertation directed by: Professor Steve Graham Department of Special Education The number of students with learning disabilities attending college has increased. Nevertheless, evidence shows that many college students with learning disabilities have difficulty completing their education. One of the most significant factors that affect the performance of college students with learning disabilities is difficulties with written language. A study was conducted to analyze the written product as well as cognitive processes college students with and without learning disabilities used while completing a writing task. This included analyzing the holistic quality of writing, number of words written, and planning and revising strategies used during writing. Twenty-three self-regulatory variables in the processes in planning, monitoring, and revising were used to identify the cognitive processes college students with and without learning disabilities applied while composing. Think-aloud protocols, written essays, and videotapes were used to examine the writing processes of two groups of college students, ten students in each group. College students without learning disabilities wrote essays that were qualitatively better (more appropriate to the writing task in terms of content, organization, style, and grammar) than college students with learning disabilities. In addition, college students without learning disabilities showed statistically significant positive correlations between holistic writing scores and the planning variables of generating ideas, prior knowledge activation, and self-instruction; the monitoring variables of monitoring content, process control, and self-questioning, as well as the reviewing variables of rereading plans, rereading essay, evaluating text and revising text. These results are consistent with the position that self-regulatory behaviors influence writing quality. Moreover, college students with learning disabilities showed no statistically significant positive correlation between holistic writing scores and any of the planning, monitoring, and reviewing variables. The correlations obtained revealed that students who did more planning, monitoring, and reviewing of their writing were more likely to have higher writing scores. There were no statistically significant differences by group in the number of words written, or the amount or types of written planning and actual revising done while composing.