Self-regulation in writing is how students self-monitor and manage their writing, as well as how they improve the content of their writing. Self-regulation strategy development (SRSD) is the single most well-researched writing intervention and leads to larger effects than does any other intervention (Harris & Graham, 2016). Strategies for setting and reaching goals, self-monitoring their writing processes, and reviewing and revising text correspond to the planning and reviewing-revising components of most models of skilled writing.


Zimmerman (2002) identified eight aspects of self-regulation, including: (a) setting specific goals, (b) applying strategies to attain the goals, (c) self-monitoring progress towards those goals, (d) restructuring the physical and social context to make it more consistent with the goals, (e) managing time efficiently, (f) self-evaluating progress, (g) attributing causation to results, and (h) adapting future methods. These eight factors fit a three-stage model of self-regulation that consists of forethought, performance, and reflection phases (Kanlapan & Velasco, 2009). Interventionists can directly assess the eight aspects of the three-stage model to target intervention efforts. Kanlapan and Velasco (2009) developed a 105-item measure with acceptable psychometric properties that can be used to assess self-regulation. Moreover, many measures of composition are indirect measures of self-regulation. Students who demonstrate acceptable transcription skills, but who score low on a composition measure are likely struggling with self-regulation.


Zimmerman’s (2002) stages can be directly converted into intervention targets for components that score low on the Kanlapan and Velasco (2009) scale. Deficits can be directly addressed with explicit instruction in the component skill. Moreover, as stated above, there is a large research base supporting SRSD. Readers are referred to for information about specific strategies. Finally, approaches such as feedback and editing, peer editing, revisions, prewriting, and setting progress goals led to large effects on improving the skills of students who struggled with writing (Graham & Perin, 2007).

Remaining Questions

The components of the SVW are seen as separate constructs, but previous research questioned the singularity of the constructs among adolescent writers in that they all seemed to be more interrelated than working together (Poch & Lembke, 2017). Additionally, there are other approaches to explain writing such as cognitive organization of writing that involves planning, transferring, and revising (Hayes & Flower, 1986), but there is considerable overlap between the process model and the SVW (McMaster et al., 2018). Additional research is needed regarding the SVW including how well the model works for different populations, and the exact nature of the components. However, much like the SVR, the SVW remains a parsimonious explanation of writing that directly translates to assessment and intervention.

Case Study—Writing

Ryan was a first-grade boy who attended Perry Elementary School who demonstrated poor writing skills relative to his peers. His teacher expressed concern shortly after the school year began because Ryan did not write as much as the other students in his classroom. A few weeks into the school year, the school psychologist collected data to inform the intervention process.

Ryan was asked to write for 3 minutes in response to a picture prompt (Table 10.3). His writing sample was scored for correct word sequences (CWS). He produced 5 CWS within the 3-minute writing sample prior to any intervention. Further analysis of his assessment performance showed that Ryan did not write many words, but those he did write were spelled correctly. His performance showed that he struggled to produce accurately formed letters and words within a sentence.

Based on the SVW, which suggests that writing is a combination of transcription, language, and self-regulation, the teacher and school psychologist decided to intervene with transcription before language or self-regulation to increase the length of Ryan’s writing sample. Ryan was taught how to form the letters correctly within sentences three times each week for 15 minutes each time. In each intervention session, the interventionist asked Ryan to select a word from his class’s weekly word list, and the interventionist wrote a sentence on lined paper that included the word while pointing out the capital letter to start the sentence, spaces between words, and all punctuation. Ryan then copied the sentence while the interventionist corrected errors. Finally, Ryan wrote the sentence a second time from memory. Once he finished copying the sentence from memory, the model sentence was uncovered and Ryan compared the model and the student’s copied sentence for similarities and differences.

Ryan immediately began increasing his transcription skills and scored above 15 CWS after 6 weeks of intervention, which demonstrated proficiency for first grade. After demonstrating sufficient transcription, he started receiving weekly performance feedback on the quality of the writing, and self-reported his effort during any writing task to start building self-regulation (Table 10.3).

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