6+1 Trait® Writing Research


April 2014


students in a classroom writing at their desks

Evidence on the importance of writing

Writing skills are important for an increasing number of jobs (National Commission on Writing 2004; Executive Office of the President 2009). Poor writing skills are a barrier to hiring and promotion for many individuals, and remediation of problems with writing imposes significant operational and training costs on public and private organizations (Casner-Lotto, Rosenblum, & Wright, 2009; National Commission on Writing, 2004, 2005). Writing is also important for the development of reading skills (Graham & Hebert, 2010) and can improve learning in other academic content areas (Bangert-Drowns, Hurley, & Wilkinson, 2004). In response to the perceived neglect of writing in United States education, the National Commission on Writing proposed a set of recommendations for making writing a central element in school reform efforts (National Commission on Writing, 2006).

Experimental research on the impact of 6+1 Trait® Writing

An Investigation of the Impact of the 6+1 Trait® Writing Model on Grade 5 Student Writing Achievement
A scientific study conducted in 74 Oregon elementary schools showed that the 6+1 Trait Writing® Model caused a statistically significant increase in student writing scores during the year in which it was studied (2010). The REL Northwest study examined first-year implementation of the model, in which teachers were provided with additional writing instruction and assessment strategies that were intended to complement whatever writing curricula and strategies were already in use at their schools. The two-year randomized controlled trial involved 102 teachers and 2,230 students in the treatment condition and 94 teachers and 1,931 students in the control condition (Coe, Hanita, Nishioka, & Smiley, 2011).

Studies about classroom strategies for writing

A growing body of research has shed light on classroom strategies and practices that improve the quality of student writing. For example, a 2007 meta-analysis of research on writing instruction in grades 4–12 found support for 11 “elements of effective adolescent writing instruction” (Graham & Perin, 2007a, 2007b). These recommended practices, synthesized from the findings of experimental studies, include having students analyze models of good writing; explicitly teaching students strategies for planning, revising, and editing their work; involving students in the collaborative use of these writing strategies; and assigning specific goals for each writing project. The recent IES practice guide on Teaching Elementary School Students to be Effective Writers (Graham et al., 2012) recommends students have daily writing experiences, learn to use the writing process for a variety of writing purposes, and become a part of a community of writers that includes teachers. Finally, the use of classroom-based writing assessments is supported by a recent meta-analysis that investigated the effectiveness of formative writing assessment in improving students’ writing (Graham, Harris, & Hebert, 2011). The 6 + 1 Trait® Writing Model of Instruction & Assessment reflects these research findings and facilitates the implementation of the recommended practices.