Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format

Integrated Article


Master of Arts




Klein, Perry D,

2nd Supervisor

Neil, Nicole



This meta-analysis reports on single-subject design (SSD) writing strategy instruction research conducted in the 15 years since Rogers and Graham's (2008) meta-analysis on SSD writing instruction. The analysis reviewed 36 studies and aimed to answer four questions: 1) Are writing strategy interventions tested using single-subject methodology effective with students in Grades 1 to 8? (2) Is writing strategy instruction more effective for some grades than others? (3) Is writing strategy instruction more beneficial for specific samples of students? (4) Do studies deemed higher quality based on What Works Clearinghouse (2022) (WWC) indicators have more or less overlap than those deemed lower quality? Results showed that students benefited from writing strategy instruction, making significant gains in holistic text quality, number of genre elements and word count. When comparing the effectiveness across grade levels, writing strategy instruction was highly effective in improving holistic text quality of students in grades 5-8 and moderately effective for students in grades 1-4. When exploring the effectiveness with various student samples, writing strategy instruction was highly effective in improving holistic text quality for emotional behavioural disorders/suspected emotional behavioural disorders and autism spectrum disorder groups but moderately effective for the learning disabilities/struggling writers' group. Visual analysis results revealed low to moderate study validity. Although study quality was poor to acceptable and should be improved, the effectiveness of writing strategy instruction did not differ significantly between low and higher quality studies.

Summary for Lay Audience

Writing strategy instruction has been shown to be effective when taught in a class-wide setting; however, some struggling students require one-on-one assistance. Writing strategy instruction teaches students to use self-regulation skills combined with writing knowledge to improve their writing. This includes teaching students specific strategies on how to plan, draft and revise writing, with most strategies designed to address a specific genre or type of writing. Self-regulation skills are complex mental processes that allow individuals to deal with the relationship between personal, behavioral, and environmental factors. Writing knowledge refers to an individual’s knowledge of the writing process, including knowledge of sentence formation, vocabulary and different writing genres.

The purpose of this review was to examine the research conducted in the last 15 years and determine if writing strategy instruction is also beneficial when taught on an individual basis. This study reviewed 36 studies to determine the effectiveness of writing strategy instruction tested across students in Grades 1-8 using single-subject design, meaning the instruction was taught to individuals and not on a class-wide basis. The study determined that writing strategy instruction administered one-on-one is highly effective for all students including those with various exceptionalities in Grades 1-8. This is important for educators who can use writing strategy instruction on a class-wide basis, or as a one-on-one intervention with students with exceptionalities or who may need additional support. While study quality was an issue with studies generally, the positive effects of writing strategy instructions for individuals did not differ by study design quality.