Scaffolding the writing of students with disabilities through procedural facilitation: Using an internet-based technology to improve performance

Relatively little is known about the potential of web-based programs to support and scaffold the writing performance of students with disabilities. In this study, an experimental and control group of students planned and organized their ideas in order to write expository papers about self-selected topics. The experimental group used a web-based environment that scaffolded performance by prompting attention to the topical organization and structure of ideas while students were in the situated act of composing their papers. Control students used similar writing tools, but in traditional paper-and-pencil print formats. The results of the quasi-experimental study revealed that the students in the web-based scaffolding condition produced lengthier pieces and received significantly higher ratings on the primary traits associated with writing quality. The greatest effects were evident in terms of experimental students' abilities to produce topic sentences and to generate more topically coherent pieces overall. These findings suggest the web-based software can be designed to offer universally available supports to improve the performance of struggling writers.

Englert, C. S., Zhao, Y., Dunsmore, K., Collings, N. Y., & Wolbers, K.
Learning Disability Quarterly, Vol. 30 (1), 9-29.
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Content Area: 
IDEA Disability Category: 
specific learning disability
speech or language impairment
Instructional Support: 
organize and plan