Children's high-level writing skills: Development of planning and revising and their contribution to writing quality

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Abstract

Background.

It is well established that the activity of producing a text is a complex one involving three main cognitive processes: Planning, translating, and revising. Although these processes are crucial in skilled writing, beginning and developing writers seem to struggle with them, mainly with planning and revising.

Aims.

To trace the development of the high-level writing processes of planning and revising, from Grades 4 to 9, and to examine whether these skills predict writing quality in younger and older students (Grades 4–6 vs. 7–9), after controlling for gender, school achievement, age, handwriting fluency, spelling, and text structure.

Sample.

Participants were 381 students from Grades 4 to 9 (age 9–15).

Method.

Students were asked to plan and write a story and to revise another story by detecting and correcting mechanical and substantive errors.

Results.

From Grades 4 to 9, we found a growing trend in students' ability to plan and revise despite the observed decreases and stationary periods from Grades 4 to 5 and 6 to 7. Moreover, whereas younger students' planning and revising skills made no contribution to the quality of their writing, in older students, these high-level skills contributed to writing quality above and beyond control predictors.

Conclusion.

The findings of this study seem to indicate that besides the increase in planning and revising, these skills are not fully operational in school-age children. Indeed, given the contribution of these high-level skills to older students' writing, supplementary instruction and practice should be provided from early on.

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