On 6 May Klaske Elving-Heida will defend her PhD-thesis on effective learning activities for writing education in HAVO 4.
There are many concerns in the Netherlands about the level of writing skills of students in higher general secondary education, Dutch HAVO. That is why five studies were conducted in order to answer our research question: is a writing course that combines several evidence based learning activities effective in the upper HAVO levels?
learning in steps
The studies were intended to tie in with the results of previous research in writing didactics within varied target groups in primary and secondary education in the area of strategy instruction, peer interaction and observational learning. It appears that learning activities that reduce the cognitive load of the working memory are especially effective in writing classes, e.g. through dividing the process of learning to write into different steps and through separating learning to write from writing itself.
Based on previous research and the opinion of experienced teachers of Dutch, learning needs that are regularly found in the upper HAVO levels were taken into account: a need for communication, a need for concrete examples and a need for help with maintaining an overview of learning goals. In view of the advantages that digital and online writing courses offer over writing classes with pen and paper, the design of the writing course included the use of educational software.
Results show that digital writing education in which upper level HAVO students learn strategies in steps by frequently exchanging reader reactions with classmates and by observing and evaluating recordings of the approaches of others has a positive effect on text quality.