Learning to write synthesis texts: A review of intervention studies


  • Liselore van Ockenburg
  • Daphne van Weijen
  • Gert Rijlaarsdam




design principles, learning activities, review study, synthesis writing


This study aims to explore effective ways in which students can learn to write synthesis texts. First, through a systematic literature search we found 16 (quasi-)experimental studies from 6th grade to undergraduate level in the field of learning to write source-based synthesis texts, that met our inclusion criteria. Second, we formulated a general instructional design principle, that included three main processes: (a) selecting relevant/important information from sources, (b) organizing, and (c) connecting that information. Bottom-up analyses of the six most effective studies yielded a set of learning activities that contribute to the improvement of students’ performance on writing synthesis texts. Subsequently, we supplemented our general design principle with relevant learning activities obtained from these effective interventions. One effective intervention differed considerably from the others due to its divergent nature, but its content was considered valuable enough to warrant the inclusion of an additional design principle. The design principles formulated in this study can be used as guidelines for future interventions in synthesis writing or as a means of support for teachers who want to develop educational materials for teaching synthesis writing.



How to Cite

van Ockenburg, L., van Weijen, D., & Rijlaarsdam, G. (2019). Learning to write synthesis texts: A review of intervention studies. Journal of Writing Research, 10(3), 401–428. https://doi.org/10.17239/jowr-2019.10.03.01




Most read articles by the same author(s)