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The Knowing/Doing Gap: Challenges of Effective Writing Instruction in High School
Teaching/Writing: The Journal of Writing Teacher Education (2013)
  • Sylvia Read, Utah State University
  • Melanie Landon-Hays, Western Oregon University

This study explores the challenges of effective writing instruction in high school, specifically examining the perceptions of five new high school English teachers regarding their own experiences learning to write as students, their preparation to become teachers of writing, and how they teach and assess writing in their classrooms. In order to more fully understand their view of writing instruction, we interviewed and observed them. The findings are organized into two strands: teacher beliefs about their own formative opportunities with writing, both as students and in preparation to become teachers, and teacher reflections on best practices in writing instruction and assessment and how they often contradict the reality of writing instruction in a high school classroom. These teachers indicated knowledge of effective writing instruction, and, rather than replicate the instruction and assessment they had received themselves, they sincerely wished to implement research-based practices in their own classrooms; we found that they feel that the writing instruction they received as students in their own K-12 education did not prepare them to be effective writers, nor did they perceive their preservice preparation as helpful. In spite of this perception, they seem to have absorbed principles of effective writing instruction, most likely ones they encountered in their preservice methods courses. In any case, they face significant difficulties as they try to enact better writing instruction and assessment in a teaching environment that overloads their time such that they can teach writing only minimally and with very little actual feedback and assessment on student writing.

  • writing instruction; secondary education; English education; teacher education
Publication Date
Fall September 13, 2013
Citation Information
Sylvia Read and Melanie Landon-Hays. "The Knowing/Doing Gap: Challenges of Effective Writing Instruction in High School" Teaching/Writing: The Journal of Writing Teacher Education Vol. 12 Iss. 2 (2013)
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