Reading and Writing

, Volume 31, Issue 9, pp 2165–2190 | Cite as

Writing informational text using provided information and text structures: an intervention for upper elementary struggling writers

  • Michael HebertEmail author
  • Janet J. Bohaty
  • J. Ron Nelson
  • Julia V. Roehling


Informational text writing is a complex task requiring multiple literacy skills, such as reading and comprehending source material, identifying important information, and transforming ideas to meet the goals for the new writing task. The Structures Writing intervention was developed to improve the informational text writing skills of 4th and 5th grade struggling writers by reducing the cognitive load associated with reading source text and teaching students to organize information using text structures. In the current study, sixty-one 4th and 5th grade struggling writers were randomly assigned to receive the Structures Writing intervention. Students in the Structures Writing intervention were provided with information in “frames” and taught to write informational passages using three text structures (i.e., simple description, compare/contrast, sequence). To do so, the students were taught a strategy for picking the topic and structure of their writing, organizing facts for the text structure, and writing the facts in paragraph form. They were also taught to include text structure features, including signal words, transition words, grouping similarities and differences, etc. At post-test, students who received the Structures Writing intervention statistically significantly outperformed the control group on researcher-created measures of simple description writing (d = 0.66), compare/contrast writing (d = 0.61), and sequence writing (d = 0.94). Results also indicate students in Structures Writing intervention condition statistically significantly outperformed the math-writing group on a measure of identifying text structures in reading passages (d = 0.94). No other statistically significant differences were found between the groups. The implications and future directions for the development of the Structures Writing intervention are discussed.


Writing Informational text Fourth grade Fifth grade Text structures Writing disabilities 



The research reported here was supported by the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, through award R324B130005 to the University of Nebraska. The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not represent the views of the Institute or the U.S. Department of Education. We specifically thank Konstantin Blume, Rachel Denniston, Hannah Ninegar, Hanna Borman, Ashley Nelson, Patricia Puterbaugh, Anastasia Desyatova, Marisa Esch, Kayla Ramos, and Carly Kay for assistance with the development of materials, data collection, and scoring. We also extend thanks to students who participated in this project. Statements do not reflect the position or policy of the university, schools, or persons, and no official endorsement should be inferred.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Special Education and Communication DisordersUniversity of Nebraska—LincolnLincolnUSA
  2. 2.University of Nebraska—LincolnLincolnUSA
  3. 3.University of Nebraska—LincolnLincolnUSA
  4. 4.University of Nebraska—LincolnLincolnUSA

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