Written and oral personal narratives of more and less proficient writers

Renee Sands Tobin, Fordham University


This study examined metacognitive strategies used to produce written and oral narratives by 2 more-proficient and 2 less-proficient fourth-grade students. Their scores on the Iowa Writing Assessment, writing samples, and teacher evaluations determined their classification as more- or less-proficient writers. Students scoring 2+ on the holistic scoring scale and 8.5+ on the total analytical score were placed in the more-proficient writers group, the rest in the less-proficient writers' category; two students from each group were then randomly selected to participate in the study. The participants generated oral and written narratives from neutral story prompts, using a version of the language-elicitation protocol “tell a story to get a story”. While writing, the students engaged in think alouds to record strategy use. Oral and written narratives were analyzed to uncover similarities and differences between more- and less-proficient writers in strategy use during the writing process. Their final written texts were scored using the 6+1 Traits of Writing Assessment. Analysis indicated the more-proficient writers used a wider variety of strategies and applied them more often than the less-proficient group. The more-proficient writers achieved higher 6+1 scores on final written product and demonstrated greater strength and frequency in use of strategies, including task environment, planning, translating, revising, editing, writer's motivation, identifying the audience to he addressed, and identifying strategies to generate a topic. Moreover, the strategies at which the more-proficient group excelled tended to be the weakest for the less-proficient group. The more-proficient writers also showed higher frequency in use of planning strategies, particularly goal setting and organizing, than the less-proficient group; these skills are shown to have positive correlation with all 6+1 variables, resulting in higher scores on written products for the more-proficient group. In addition, the more-proficient students employed the complex structure of the classic narrative to organize their written texts, reverting to simpler structures in their oral narratives; less-proficient writers used simpler structures in both oral and written narratives. Based on the findings of metacognitive strategy use, narrative structure, and scoring of written products between the two groups, the researcher offered possible instructional methods to enhance students' writing performance.

Subject Area

Educational evaluation|Elementary education|Rhetoric|Composition

Recommended Citation

Tobin, Renee Sands, "Written and oral personal narratives of more and less proficient writers" (2008). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3302120.