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Durham University

School of Education

Research Projects

Writing Bundle: An evaluation of Grammar for Writing

A research project of the School of Education.

Background

The Grammar for Writing intervention is a curriculum intervention aimed at improving writing skills by providing contextualised grammar teaching. The intervention was originally developed by the University of Exeter to improve the writing skills in older children; this modified version was aimed at children in year 6 who were less able writers. Over 50 primary schools (with two year 6 classes) were recruited from four geographical areas across England (Sheffield, London, West Midlands and the South West) and the intervention was delivered by the University of Exeter between June and July 2013.

The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) funded the University of York Trials Unit and Durham University (£78K) to independently evaluate the intervention asking ‘What is the effectiveness of the one to one or small group Grammar for writing intervention compared with a “business as usual” control group on writing skills of participating children.’

The project is jointly co-ordinated by Professor David Torgerson (York Trials Unit, University of York) and Professor Carole Torgerson (School of Education). The other members of the evaluation team are: Dr Natasha Mitchell (York Trials Unit, University of York); Hannah Buckley (York Trials Unit, University of York); Hannah Ainsworth (York Trials Unit, University of York); Dr Laura Jefferson, York Trials Unit, University of York); Clare Heaps (School of Education)

Funding

The project is funded by the following grant.

  • An Evaluation Of Grammar For Writing (£10477.00 from Education Endowment Foundation)

Methods

The evaluation team designed a cluster randomised controlled trial, with randomisation at both class and pupil levels. Within the intervention classes individual children, who meet the inclusion criteria, were randomised to receive either enhanced small group support or to remain within the wider class. This design is known as a partial split plot, a variant of a factorial design, due to the combination of cluster and individual randomisation. 

Findings

The Progress in English (PiE) 11: Second Edition Long Form (LF) test, GL Assessment, was the main literacy outcome. The test includes both narrative and non-narrative exercises and assesses both reading and writing skills including areas such as spelling, grammar and comprehension. The test measured improvements in literacy compared with the same outcomes for children who did not taken part. 

The report of the evaluation will soon be available on the EEF website.

The protocol for the randomised controlled trial is available on the EEF website: http://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/uploads/pdf/Transitions_-_Exeter.pdf

Staff

From the School of Education

From other departments