Reading and Writing

, Volume 29, Issue 5, pp 869–902 | Cite as

Teaching writing in grades 4–6 in urban schools in the Greater China Region

  • Tien Ping Hsiang
  • Steve Graham


A random sample of 1102 grade 4–6 Chinese language arts teachers in Beijing, Macao, and Taipei City were surveyed about their instructional writing practices. Seventy-eight percent (n = 857) of the teachers completed the survey. Teachers were generally positive about the usefulness of their college teacher preparation program. They slightly agreed that they liked to write, teach writing, and were effective writing teachers. Their beliefs about writing were related to the instructional practices they reportedly applied, and textbooks along with school guidelines played a prominent role in shaping their overall writing program. Teachers’ programs emphasized product-based instruction, but also placed considerable emphasis on writing process and content. They further indicated an average writing class lasted 69 min, but almost 80 % of teachers indicated they taught writing only once every 2–4 weeks, raising a concern about amount and timing of writing instruction. Consistent with social/cultural theory, Chinese writing teachers in these three urban locations evidenced differences on almost every variable studied. We expected such differences as macro-level features involving government and educational policy varied across locations. The observed differences were mostly a matter of degree (i.e., teachers applied certain practices more or less frequently) versus a more general difference in how writing was taught.


Writing Writing instruction Survey China 


  1. Bangert-Drowns, R. L., Hurley, M. M., & Wilkinson, B. (2004). The effects of school-based writing-to-learn interventions on academic achievement: A meta-analysis. Review of Educational Research, 74, 29–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bridge, C. A., & Hiebert, E. H. (1985). A comparison of classroom writing practices, teachers’ perceptions of their writing instruction, and textbook recommendations on writing practices. Elementary School Journal, 86, 155–172.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Brindle, M., Harris, K. R., Graham, S., & Hebert, M. (2015). Third and fourth grade teachers’ classroom practices in writing: A national study. Manuscript submitted for publication.Google Scholar
  4. Chang, Y.-F. (2009). 國小教師寫作教學方法與國小六年級學生寫作態度之關係研究:以澎湖縣, 台南市為例 [Relationships between elementary school teachers’ writing instruction methods and sixth graders’ writing attitudes—Examples of Penghu County and Tainan city (sic)]. (Unpublished master’s thesis). National University of Tainan, Tainan, Taiwan.Google Scholar
  5. Chen, L. (2012). 农村小学作文教学现状的调查研究 [Writing instruction in the rural area: A survey in Tongshan region (Xuzhu, Jiangsu)]. 新课程学习 [XINKECHENGXUEXI (sic)], 3, 111.Google Scholar
  6. Chu, K. (2006). 打开窗户,让风儿吹进来: 关于小学作文教学现状的调查 [Open the window and let the wind come in: A survey of writing instruction in six primary schools in Jiangsu]. 作文教学研究 [Teaching & Research in Writing (sic)], 5, Retrieved from
  7. Common Core State Standards: National Governors Association and Council of Chief School Officers (2010). Retrieved from:
  8. Cook, M. (2003). A brief history of the human race. New York, NY: Norton.Google Scholar
  9. Cutler, L., & Graham, S. (2008). Primary grade writing instruction: A national survey. Journal of Educational Psychology, 100, 907–919.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. De Smidt, F., Van Keer, E., & Merchie, E. (2015). Student- and class-level correlates of Flemish late elementary school children’s writing performance. Manuscript submitted for publication.Google Scholar
  11. DeFord, D. (1985). Validating the construct of theoretical orientation in reading. Reading Research Quarterly, 20, 351–367.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Department for Education. (2012). The research evidence on writing. London, England: Department for Education. Retrieved From
  13. Dillman, D. (2000). Mail and internet surveys: The tailored design method (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Wiley.Google Scholar
  14. Dockrell, J., Marshall, C., & Wyse, D. (2015). Teachers’ reported practices for teaching writing in England. Manuscript submitted for publication.Google Scholar
  15. Du, G. (Ed.). (2006). 写作 [Writing]. Beijing, China: People’s Education Press.Google Scholar
  16. DSEJ. (2011). 小學中國語文基本學力要求_第一語文(教學語文)(初稿) [The requirements of basic academic attainments in Chinese language for primary schools using Chinese as the primary language of instruction (First Draft) (sic)]. Retrieved from
  17. Elman, B. A. (2013). Civil examinations and meritocracy in late imperial China. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Gilbert, J., & Graham, S. (2010). Teaching writing to elementary students in grades 4 to 6: A national survey. Elementary School Journal, 110, 494–518.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Goncu, A., & Gauvain, M. (2012). Sociocultural approaches to educational psychology: Theory, research, and application. In K. Harris, S. Graham, & T. Urdan (Eds.), APA educational psychology handbook (Volume 1; 125–154). Washington, D.C.: APA.Google Scholar
  20. Graham, S., Bollinger, A., Booth Olson, C., D’Aoust, C., MacArthur, C., McCutchen, D., et al. (2012a). Teaching elementary school students to be effective writers: A practice guide. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance (NCEE), Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved from the NCEE website:
  21. Graham, S., Harris, K. R., Fink, B., & MacArthur, C. (2002). Primary grade teachers’ theoretical orientations concerning writing instruction: Construct validation and a nationwide survey. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 27, 147–166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Graham, S., Harris, K. R., & Santangelo, T. (2015). Research-based writing practices and the common core: Meta-analysis and meta-synthesis. Elementary School Journal, 115, 498–522.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Graham, S., & Hebert, M. (2011). Writing-to-read: A meta-analysis of the impact of writing and writing instruction on reading. Harvard Educational Review, 81, 710–744.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Graham, S., Kiuhara, S., McKeown, D., & Harris, K. R. (2012b). A meta-analysis of writing instruction for students in the elementary grades. Journal of Educational Psychology, 104, 879–896.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Graham, S., Rouse, A., & Harris, K. R. (in press). Scientifically supported writing practices. In A. O’Donnell (Ed.), Oxford handbook of educational psychology. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  26. Graham, S., & Santangelo, T. (2014). Does spelling instruction make students better spellers, readers, and writers? A meta-analytic review. Reading & Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 27, 1703–1743.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hsiang, T. P. (2006). 國小五年級兒童自我調整寫作歷程的教與學 [The teaching and learning of the self-regulated writing process in a primary-5 class (sic)] (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from National Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations in Taiwan. Retrieved from
  28. Hsiang, T. P. (2012). 小學語文科詩歌教材的比較研究:以中國內地與澳門版教科書為例 [A comparative study on primary school poetry teaching materials with examples of Chinese language textbooks edited for Mainland China and Macao (sic)]. Journal of Macau Studies, 3, 145–160.Google Scholar
  29. Kiuhara, S., Graham, S., & Hawken, L. (2009). Teaching writing to high school students: A national survey. Journal of Educational Psychology, 101, 136–160.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Lau, S. P. (2009). A history of education in Macao (S. L. Ieong & L. C. Lei, Trans.). Macao, China: University of Macao.Google Scholar
  31. Li, G. (1987). 乡村小学作文教学现状调查 [A survey of writing instruction in the rural area in Renshou county in Sichuan]. 小学教学研究 [Primary School Teaching Research (sic)], 7, 44–45.Google Scholar
  32. Micahelowa, K. (2001). Primary education quality in Francophone Sub-Saharan Africa: Determinants of learning achievement and efficiency considerations. World Development, 29, 1699–1716.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Ministry of Education. (2008). 97年國民中小學九年一貫課程綱要(總綱)[2008 grades 1-9 curriculum guidelines in Taiwan (general principles)]. Retrieved from
  34. Ministry of Education. (2011). 國民中小學九年一貫課程綱要語文學習領域(國語文)[Grades 1-9 curriculum guidelines in Taiwan (Mandarin) (sic)]. Retrieved from
  35. Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China. (2011). 义务教育语文课程标准(2011年版) [Compulsory education Chinese language curriculum standards (2011 ed.)]. Beijing, China: Beijing Normal University.Google Scholar
  36. National Center for Education Statistics. (2012). The nation’s report card: Writing 2011 (NCES 2012–470). Washington, D.C.: Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education.Google Scholar
  37. National Commission on Writing in America’s Schools and Colleges. (2004). Writing: A ticket to work…or a ticket out. New York, NY: College Board.Google Scholar
  38. Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development. (2009). Creating effective teaching and learning environments: First results from TALIS. Retrieved from
  39. Paris, S., Yueng, A., Wong, H., & Luo, S. (2012). Global perspectives on education during middle childhood. In K. R. Harris, S. Graham, & T. Urdan (Eds.), APA educational psychology handbook (Volume 3; 23–41.). Washington, D.C.: APA.Google Scholar
  40. Russell, D. (1997). Rethinking genre in school and society: An activity theory analysis. Written Communication, 14, 504–554.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Schultz, K., & Fecho, B. (2000). Society’s child: Social context and writing development. Educational Psychologist, 35, 51–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Swedlow, J. (1999). The power of writing. National Geographic, 196, 110–132.Google Scholar
  43. Tien, C.-J. (2008). 雲林縣國小國語文寫作教學實施情形之調查研究:以第二學習階段為例 [A survey research on the instruction of Chinese writing in the Yun-Lin County—An exemplary second learning stage (sic)]. (Unpublished master’s thesis). National Chung Cheng University, Chiayi.Google Scholar
  44. Tschannen-Moran, M., Hoy, A. W., & Hoy, W. K. (1998). Teacher efficacy: Its meaning and measure. Review of Educational Research, 68(2), 202–248.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Tung, D.-P. (2004). 嘉義縣市國民小學國語文寫作教學實施之調查研究 [A study on the current status in Mandarin language writing of primary schools of Chia-yi City and County (sic)]. (Unpublished master’s thesis). National Chiayi University, Chiayi, Taiwan.Google Scholar
  46. Wang, J. Y. (2007). 臺北市國小教師國語文寫作教學實施之調查研究 [A study on the current status in Mandarin language writing of Taipei elementary school (sic)]. (Unpublished master’s thesis). Taipei Municipal University of Education, Taipei, Taiwan.Google Scholar
  47. Wang, R. (2013). The Chinese imperial examination system: An annotated bibliography. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press.Google Scholar
  48. Woetzel, J., Mendonca, L., Devan, J., Negri, S., Hu, Y., Jordan, L., et al. (2009). Preparing for China’s urban billion? Mckinsey & CO. Retrieved from
  49. Yang, C.-Y. (2014). 臺中市國小六年級學童記敘文人物類文章寫作表現調查研究. [Taichung City elementary school sixth grade students’ narrative writing performance figures research articles (sic)]. (Unpublished master’s thesis). National Taichung University of Education, Taichung, Taiwan.Google Scholar
  50. Yang, Y.-M. (1999). 臺灣省中部四縣市國小六年級學童之應用文寫作能力研究. [The study of practical writings of sixth graders of four counties in central Taiwan (sic)]. 臺中師院學報 [Journal of National Taichung Teachers College (sic)], 13, 241–282.Google Scholar
  51. Zhu, Y. (2010). 小学作文教学现状调查及其对策 [Writing instruction in primary schools and the countermeasures]. 小学时代(教育研究)[Primary School Times (Education Research) (sic)], 4, 50.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of MacauMacauChina
  2. 2.Learning Sciences Institute Australia – Australian Catholic University BrisbaneArizona State UniversityTempeUSA

Personalised recommendations