Improving writing in primary schools through a comprehensive writing program


  • Saskia Rietdijk
  • Tanja Janssen
  • Daphne van Weijen
  • Huub van den Bergh
  • Gert Rijlaarsdam



primary school, teachers' beliefs, teachers' skills, writing instruction, writing performance


This study examined the effects of an innovative comprehensive writing program in upper primary education on students’ writing performance and on teachers´ classroom practices, beliefs and skills. The program focused on the communicative nature of writing, on writing as a process, and on explicit teaching of five genre-specific writing strategies. It was implemented by 43 teachers in their regular classrooms (Grades 4 to 6, N = 1052), with three conditions: (1) a writing program condition, (2) the same program complemented by professional development sessions and coaching, and (3) a control condition in which teachers taught their usual writing lessons. Students’ writing performance was measured three times with multiple writing tasks. Data on teachers’ practices, beliefs and skills were collected through lesson observations, interviews, questionnaires, teacher logs, and a text assessment task. The comprehensive writing program had a beneficial effect on students’ writing performance and the extent to which teachers taught writing strategies. The complementary professional development and coaching had a direct effect on the number of lessons implemented, and an indirect effect on students' performance. Overall, the innovation proved to be effective for improving students’ writing performance in the upper grades of primary schools.



How to Cite

Rietdijk, S., Janssen, T., van Weijen, D., van den Bergh, H., & Rijlaarsdam, G. (2017). Improving writing in primary schools through a comprehensive writing program. Journal of Writing Research, 9(2), 173–225.