The use of instructional rubrics to support intermediate-school-level learners with writing difficulties (2020)
Type of ContentTheses / Dissertations
Degree NameMaster of Education
PublisherUniversity of Canterbury
AuthorsPearce, Jeanne Marieshow all
A significant underachievement in writing persists internationally. Many learners require more explicit instruction and scaffolding to counter the high degree of cognitive load inherent in writing. Extant research also suggests that educators require support to address gaps in pedagogical knowledge about writing or to effectively use evidence-based instructional practices within time and resource constraints. Drawing on genre pedagogy and cognitive load theory, this mixed- methodology research follows a multiple baseline case study design. All participation was voluntary, based on understanding of the timeframes, procedures and potential risks. Using a researcher-created rubric as the foundation for explicit instruction, feedback and material support in the compare-and-contrast genre, changes in idea expression and the use of genre elements by six New Zealand Year Eight intermediate-school-level learners with writing difficulties were examined over the course of an eight-week intervention. Overall findings show that participants had an increased use of eleven key genre elements and articulated an improved understanding of the genre purpose. Recursive rubric use served as a heuristic to support the provision of more intentional, informed and responsive instruction and feedback and promoted the internalisation of new knowledge. As a material reference guide for learners the rubric provided manageable individualised external support. The implication is that instructional rubrics could be embraced as readily-accessible and easy-to-implement tools which scaffold the entire teaching and learning cycle. The rubric, an already-familiar tool, has the potential to improve teaching practice and writing outcomes for all learners.