Reading and Writing

, Volume 23, Issue 7, pp 743–775 | Cite as

Adolescent students’ reading during writing behaviors and relationships with text quality: an eyetracking study

  • Scott F. Beers
  • Thomas Quinlan
  • Allen G. Harbaugh


This study employed eyetracking technology to investigate adolescent students’ reading processes as they composed and to explore relationships between these reading processes and text quality. A sample of 32 adolescent students composed narrative and expository texts while eyetracking equipment recorded their eye movements. Eye movements upon a computer monitor indicating reading processes during composing were coded according to their position in the emerging text, and were coded as: reading at the point of inscription (monitoring recently composed words); local reading (reading recently composed sentences); global reading (reading paragraphs); or prompt reading. It was hypothesized that two reading during writing behaviors, global reading and local reading, would be related to text quality. Results of the multinomial multilevel logistic regression analysis indicated significant relationships between two reading processes (local reading and reading at the point of inscription, but not global reading), composing rate, and text quality.


Writing processes Adolescent writing Reading during writing Eyetracking Text quality 


  1. Alamargot, D., Chesnet, D., Dansac, C., & Ros, C. (2006). Eye and Pen: A new device for studying reading during writing. Behavior Research Methods, 38, 287–299.Google Scholar
  2. Bangert Drowns, R. L. (1993). The word processor as an instructional tool: A meta-analysis of word processing in writing instruction. Review of Educational Research, 63, 69–93.Google Scholar
  3. Beers, S. F., & Nagy, W. E. (2009). Syntactic complexity as a predictor of adolescent writing quality: Which measures? Which genre? Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 22, 185–200.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bereiter, C., & Scardamalia, M. (1987). The psychology of written composition. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  5. Berman, R. A., & Katzenberger, I. (2004). Form and function in introducing narrative and expository texts: A developmental perspective. Discourse Processes, 38, 57–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Botvin, G. J., & Sutton-Smith, B. (1977). The development of structural complexity in children’s fantasy narratives. Developmental Psychology, 13, 377–388.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bourdin, B., & Fayol, M. (1994). Is written language production more difficult than oral language production? A working memory approach. International Journal of Psychology, 29, 591–620.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bourdin, B., & Fayol, M. (2000). Is graphic activity cognitively costly? A developmental approach. Reading and Writing, 13, 183–196.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Breetvelt, I., Van den Bergh, H., & Rijlaarsdam, G. (1996). Rereading and generating and their relation to text quality: An application of multilevel analysis on writing process data. In G. Rijlaarsdam, H. van den Bergh, & M. Couzijn (Eds.), Theories, models, and methodology in writing research (pp. 10–20). Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Britton, J. (1982). Shaping at the point of utterance. In G. M. Pradl (Ed.), Prospect and retrospect: Selected essays of James Britton. London: BoyntonCook.Google Scholar
  11. Cameron, C. A., Lee, K., Webster, S., & Munro, K. (1995). Text cohesion in children’s narrative writing. Applied Psycholinguistics, 16, 257–269.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Carver, R. (1992). Rauding theory. Journal of Reading, 36, 84–95.Google Scholar
  13. Coirier, P. (1996). Composing argumentative texts: Cognitive and/or textual complexity. In G. Rijlaarsdam, H. van den Bergh, & M. Couzijn (Eds.), Current trends in writing research: What is writing? Theories, models, and methodology (pp. 317–337). Amsterdam, Netherlands: Amsterdam University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Daneman, M., & Carpenter, P. A. (1980). Individual differences in working memory and reading. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 19, 450–466.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Drieghe, D., Rayner, K., & Pollatsek, A. (2005). Eye movement and word skipping during reading revisited. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 31, 954–959.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Flower, L., & Hayes, J. R. (1980). The dynamics of composing: Making plans and juggling constraints. In L. W. Gregg & E. R. Steinberg (Eds.), Cognitive processes in writing. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  17. Graham, S. (1990). The role of production factors in learning disabled students’ compositions. Journal of Educational Psychology, 82, 781–791.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Graham, S., & Weintraub, N. (1996). A review of handwriting research: Progress and prospects from 1980 to 1994. Educational Psychology Review, 8, 7–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hayes, J. R. (1996). A new framework for understanding cognition and affect in writing. In C. M. Levy & S. Ransdell (Eds.), The science of writing: Theories, methods, individual differences, and applications (pp. 1–27). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associate.Google Scholar
  20. Hayes, J. R., & Flower, L. (1980). Identifying the organization of writing processes. In L. Gregg & E. R. Steinberg (Eds.), Cognitive processes in writing (pp. 3–30). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  21. Hidi, S., & Hildyard, P. (1983). The comparison of oral and written productions of two discourse types. Discourse Processes, 6, 91–105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hyona, J., Lorch, R. F., Jr., & Kaakinen, J. K. (2002). Individual differences in reading to summarize expository text: Evidence from eye fixation patterns. Journal of Educational Psychology, 94, 44–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Janssen, D., Van Waes, L., & Van den Bergh, H. (1996). Effects of thinking aloud on writing processes. In C. M. Levy & S. Ransdell (Eds.), The science of writing: Theories, methods, individual differences, and applications (pp. 233–250). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  24. Kaufer, D. S., Hayes, J. R., & Flower, L. S. (1986). Composing written sentences. Research in the Teaching of English, 20, 121–140.Google Scholar
  25. Kellogg, R. T. (1996). A model of working memory in writing. In C. M. Levy & S. Ransdell (Eds.), The science of writing: Theories, methods, individual differences, and applications (pp. 57–71). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  26. Kellogg, R. T. (2008). Training writing skills: A cognitive developmental perspective. Journal of writing research, 1, 1–26.Google Scholar
  27. Matsuhashi, A. (1987). Revising the plan and altering the text. In A. Matsuhashi (Ed.), Writing in real time: Modelling production processes (pp. 197–223). Norwood, NJ: Ablex Publishing.Google Scholar
  28. McCutchen, D. (1987). Children’s discourse skill: Form and modality requirements of schooled writing. Discourse Processes, 10, 267–286.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. McCutchen, D. (1996). A capacity theory of writing: Working memory in composition. Educational Psychology Review, 8, 299–325.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. McCutchen, D., Francis, M., & Kerr, S. (1997). Revising for meaning: Effects of knowledge and strategy. Journal of Educational Psychology, 89, 667–676.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory (2004). 6+1 Trait writing—about. Retrieved August 2, 2007, from
  32. Perl, S. (1979). The composing processes of unskilled college writers. Research in the Teaching of English, 13, 317–336.Google Scholar
  33. Pianko, S. (1979). The description of the composing processes of college freshmen writers. Research in the Teaching of English, 13, 5–22.Google Scholar
  34. Rayner, K. (1984). Visual selection in reading, visual perception, and visual search: A tutorial review. In H. Bouma & D. Bouwhuis (Eds.), Attention and performance (Vol. 10). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  35. Rayner, K. (1998). Eye movements in reading and information processing: 20 Years of research. Psychological Bulletin, 124, 372–422.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Reece, J. E., & Cumming, G. (1996). Evaluating speech-based composition methods: Planning, dictation, and the listening word processor. In C. M. Levy & S. Ransdell (Eds.), The science of writing: Theories, methods, individual differences, and applications (pp. 361–380). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  37. Scardamalia, M., Bereiter, C., & Goleman, H. (1982). The role of production factors in writing ability. In M. Nystrand (Ed.), What writers know: The language, process, and structure of written discourse (pp. 175–210). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  38. Schleppegrell, M. J. (2001). Linguistic features of the language of schooling. Linguistics and Education, 12, 431–459.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Snijders, T., & Bosker, R. (1999). Multilevel analysis: An introduction to basic and advanced multilevel modeling. London: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  40. Stallard, C. K. (1974). An analysis of the writing behavior of good student writers. Research in the Teaching of English, 8, 206–218.Google Scholar
  41. Strömqvist, S., & Homqvist, K. (2001). The dynamics of production and perception during text writing. Paper presented at the Production of text and processes of revision: Methods in real time conference. Poitiers, France.Google Scholar
  42. Torrance, M., & Galbraith, D. (2006). The processing demands of writing. In C. A. MacArthur, S. Graham, & J. Fitzgerald (Eds.), Handbook of writing research (pp. 67–80). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  43. Woodcock, R., & Johnson, B. (2001). Woodcock-Johnson psychoeducational battery–III tests of achievement. Chicago, IL: Riverside Publishing.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Scott F. Beers
    • 1
  • Thomas Quinlan
    • 2
  • Allen G. Harbaugh
    • 3
  1. 1.School of EducationSeattle Pacific UniversitySeattleUSA
  2. 2.Educational Testing ServicePrincetonUSA
  3. 3.Seattle Central Community CollegeSeattleUSA

Personalised recommendations