Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching and Learning

Committee Member

Janie Hodge, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Pamela Stecker

Committee Member

Hans Klar

Committee Member

Meihua Qian


The primary purpose of this study was to examine the effects of SRSD opinion writing instruction provided by teachers who completed SRSD Writing to Learn™ online training on the writing performance of students with and without specific learning disabilities (SLD) in third, fourth, and fifth grade. A secondary purpose of the study was to determine teachers' perceptions of SRSD Writing to Learn™ online training and the impact of the training on their knowledge of SRSD. A pretest-postest, cluster randomized control design was used to determine the effects of SRSD opinion writing instruction, following teachers' completion of SRSD Writing to Learn™ training, on students' writing achievement. Differential effects for students with SLD and student acceptability of instruction were also examined. Results indicated that students in experimental classes wrote longer essays that contained more elements of opinion essays compared to students in comparison classes. While students with SLD performed below their typically performing peers on measures of elements and length of writing samples, students with SLD in the comparison group wrote longer essays that contained more elements of opinion essays compared to students with SLD in comparison classrooms. Students provided generally positive responses regarding questions of acceptability.

To address the secondary purpose of the study, teachers' content knowledge of SRSD was measured, and teachers' provided feedback regarding their perceptions of the online training. Results indicated that after completion of SRSD Writing to Learn™ training and implementation of SRSD instruction with moderate to high levels of fidelity, teachers were able to identify some stages of SRSD and the corresponding instructional components of each stage. Teachers generally reported positive perceptions of the online training. They found the training modules to be applicable and relevant, although they found the information to be somewhat overwhelming and difficult to navigate. A discussion of results addresses limitations of the study, implications for practice, and directions future research. While the results of the study demonstrate that teachers who have completed online training are able to implement SRSD and positively impact opinion writing performance for upper elementary students with and without SLD, specific consideration should be given to the differential effects for students with SLD. When providing SRSD instruction in the general education setting, all students' needs should be considered. Struggling writers, and specifically those with SLD, will likely require more intensive instruction. Differentiating instruction within the general education setting and supplementing and intensifying instruction in intervention or special education settings may allow students with SLD to benefit even more from instruction within an SRSD framework.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.