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Research in Writing: Implications for Adult Literacy Education

Volume 2: Chapter Three
Marilyn K. Gillespie

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In Chapter Three, Marilyn Gillespie provides a summary of the research on writing instruction that has taken place over the last three decades. In her survey of writing research, she describes models of the writing process such as that developed by Flower and Hayes, who viewed writing as three cognitive writing processes:  planning, text generation and revision. The author also presents alternative writing models and notes a shift in thinking about writing in the early 1980s that added a consideration of socio-cultural dimensions to the study of writing. While tracing writing research that examines a variety of learners including children in K-12, college students classified as basic writers, second language learners and adult literacy learners Gillespie focuses on issues and trends of interest to adult literacy educators. She notes the apparent connections between changing beliefs and identity in the adult literacy learning process and calls for research to shed light on the potential of writing to play a role in the personal transformation of adult learners.

As a complement to her survey of writing research, Gillespie outlines the application of research to changes in practice in writing instruction in K-12 and higher education domains. She then draws on examples from the field of adult literacy to demonstrate how a growing number of practitioners are integrating writing instruction more fully into their classes. In particular, she notes promising trends, such as project-based instruction and the Equipped for the Future model, that encourage greater involvement of adult learners in writing activities. Gillespie concludes her chapter by suggesting ways to promote improvement in writing instruction: increasing research that focuses on the study of composition in adult literacy contexts, offering more professional development for adult educators on how to integrate writing into adult learning classrooms, conducting research on innovative tools for assessing the writing process, developing policies to help students in GED classes prepare for the writing demands of post-secondary education, and more widely disseminating writing done by and for adult learners.


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Updated 7/27/07 :: Copyright © 2005 NCSALL