SRSD For Writing Strategies

Study: Graham, Harris, & Mason (2005)

Graham, S., Harris, K. R., & Mason, L. (2005). Improving the writing performance, knowledge, and self-efficacy of struggling young writers: The effects of self-regulated strategy development. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 30, 207-241.
Descriptive Information Usage Acquisition and Cost Program Specifications and Requirements Training

Six basic stages of instruction are used to introduce and develop genre specific and general writing and self-regulation strategies, or strategies for close reading followed by writing to inform or persuade, in the Self-Regulated Strategy Development (SRSD) model for writing strategies instruction:

  1. Develop background knowledge
  2. Discuss it
  3. Model it
  4. Support it
  5. Memorize it
  6. Independent performance

Throughout the stages, teachers and students collaborate on the acquisition, implementation, evaluation, and modification of these strategies.

There are five critical characteristics of SRSD instruction. One, writing (genre specific and general) strategies and self-regulation strategies, as well as declarative, procedural, and conditional knowledge are explicitly taught and supported in development. Two, children are viewed as active collaborators who work with the teacher and each other during instruction. Three, instruction is individualized so that the processes, skills, and knowledge targeted for instruction are tailored to children’s needs and capabilities. Goals are adjusted to current performance for each student, with more capable writers addressing more advanced goals. Instruction is further individualized through the use of individually tailored feedback and support. Four, instruction is criterion based rather than time based; students move through the instructional process at their own pace and do not proceed to later stages of instruction until they have met criteria for doing so. Importantly, instruction does not end until the student can use the strategy and self-regulation procedures efficiently and effectively. Five, SRSD is an on-going process in which new strategies are introduced and previously taught strategies are upgraded over time.

SRSD is intended for use in grades K through high school. It is designed for use with students with disabilities (including learning disabilities and behavioral disabilities), English language learners and any student at risk of academic failure. The academic area of focus is writing (SRSD instruction has been validated for planning, composing, and revising across narrative, opinion/persuasive, and informative genres) and self-regulation strategies for writing (including goal setting, self-instruction, self-assessment, self-monitoring, and self-reinforcement).

For further information on appropriate uses of SRSD, see this video, in which developer Karen Harris defines what SRSD is and is not.

Where to obtain:
Karen Harris
Arizona State University
Email Address:

Cost: SRSD is not sold as a commercial program.

SRSD is not sold as a commercial program. The following books include professional learning lesson plans and all materials needed for SRSD instruction; the publishers allow free copying of teacher and student materials for all lessons:
1. Harris, K. R., Graham, S., Mason, L. H., & Friedlander, B. (2008). Powerful writing strategies for all students. Baltimore, MD: Brookes. 
2. Mason, L., Reid, R., Hagaman, J. (2012). Building comprehension in adolescents: Powerful strategies for improving reading and writing in content areas. 
3. Graham, S., & Harris, K. R. (2005). Writing better: Teaching writing processes and self-regulation to students with learning problems. Baltimore, MD: Brookes. 
4. Harris, K., & Graham, S. (1996). Making the writing process work: Strategies for composition and self-regulation (2nd Ed.). Cambridge: Brookline Books. 
5. Reid, R., Lienemann, T.O., & Hagaman, J. (2013). Strategy instruction for students with learning disabilities (2nd Ed.). NY: Guilford. 
6. Sandmel, K, Brindle, M., Harris, K.R., et al. (2009). Making it work: Differentiating tier two writing instruction with Self-Regulated Strategy Development in tandem with schoolwide positive behavioral support for second graders. Teaching Exceptional Children, 42, 22-33.

SRSD is designed for use with individual students, with small groups of two to five students, or in inclusive classrooms.

SRSD takes 20-40 minutes per session with a recommended three sessions per week for 6-11 weeks depending on the writing (and reading) strategies being taught.

The program includes a highly specified teacher’s manual. No special technology is required.

Training provided to small groups of teachers typically takes 12-14 hours. (Teachers can learn to do SRSD using support materials available online or in print, but efficacy of this has not been studied).

Instructors are provided with detailed directions for implementing all lessons and activities in small group or one-on-one training sessions. Instructional methods are modeled for the trainees, and they practice implementing the instructional procedures until they can do so without error. They are taught to use checklists to check off the key instructional steps as they go through each lesson.

Instructors must be trained to implement SRSD for writing.

Technical support can be obtained from multiple sources. Interested parties may contact the developer, Karen Harris, to obtain a list of online, print, media, and other resources for implementing SRSD in writing, many of which are free.

A free, online interactive tutorial on SRSD is available through the IRIS website.

Two non-profit groups now offer PD for special and general education teachers online and face to face. Information on these PD providers is available at:


Participants: Convincing Evidence

Sample size: 48 students in third grade in one school district. (24 students in the treatment group and 24 students in the control group).

Risk Status: A norm-referenced measure, the Story Construction Subtest from the Test of Written Language-3 (TOWL-3) was used to identify children who were at-risk in writing. When the teachers of the identified participants were interviewed, the at-risk students were identified as having difficulty with writing and as being among the weakest writers in the class. Supporting evidence of writing difficulty was obtained using a second norm-referenced assessment, the Writing Fluency Subtest from the Woodcock-Johnson Psycho-Educational battery-Revised (WJ-R; Woodcock & Johnson, 1990) that measures the ability to write a sentence from a picture prompt accompanied by three written words. The mean standard score for the 72 students who completed this study was 7.6 (SD=3.4) where the mean for this subtest is 10 (SD=3), indicating that the identified students performed more than two-thirds of a standard deviation below the normative sample.





p of chi square





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  Other (Unknown)






Socioeconomic status

  Subsidized lunch






  No subsidized lunch






Disability status

  Speech-language impairments






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  Other disabilities






  Not identified with a disability






ELL status

  English language learner






  Not English language learner



















Training of Instructors: Six graduate students majoring in education delivered instruction after receiving two weeks of training to learn how to implement the instructional strategies. They practiced until implementation was error free. Instructors were provided a step-by-step checklist for each lesson, as well as a set of detailed directions for implementing each lesson. Instructors were blind to the hypotheses of the study. On-going support was provided as well. Instructors met weekly with the second and third authors to discuss issues with implementation.

Design: Partially Convincing Evidence

Did the study use random assignment?: Yes.

If not, was it a tenable quasi-experiment?: Not applicable.

If the study used random assignment, at pretreatment, were the program and control groups not statistically significantly different and had a mean standardized difference that fell within 0.25 SD on measures used as covariates or on pretest measures also used as outcomes?: No.

If not, at pretreatment, were the program and control groups not statistically significantly different and had a mean standardized difference that fell within 0.25 SD on measures central to the study (i.e., pretest measures also used as outcomes), and outcomes were analyzed to adjust for pretreatment differences? Not applicable.

Were the program and control groups demographically comparable at pretreatment?: Yes.

Was there attrition bias1? No.

Did the unit of analysis match the unit for random assignment (for randomized studies) or the assignment strategy (for quasi-experiments)?: Yes.

1 NCII follows guidance from the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) in determining attrition bias. The WWC model for determining bias based on a combination of differential and overall attrition rates can be found on pages 13-14 of this document:


Fidelity of Implementation: Convincing Evidence

Describe when and how fidelity of treatment information was obtained:
1. Instructors were provided a step-by-step checklist of the lesson plans that they checked off as they completed each step.
2. Thirty percent of lessons were tape recorded and checked for fidelity.
3. Overall quality of the lessons that were tape recorded were rated on a 5-point Likert-type scale (1-5, where 1 is of low quality and 5 is of high quality)

Provide documentation (i.e., in terms of numbers) of fidelity of treatment implementation: Inspection of the step-by-step lesson plan checklist showed that 99% of the steps in all lessons were completed (in both SRSD and SRSD+Peer Support conditions, combined). Analysis of the tape recorded lessons showed that 97% of the steps were completed correctly in the SRSD only condition. The average quality rating across all tape recorded lessons (both SRSD only and SRSD+Peer Support conditions combined) was 4.98 on a 5-point scale.

Measures Targeted: Convincing Evidence

Measures Broader: Data Unavailable

Targeted Measure Score type & range of measure Reliability statistics Relevance to program instructional content

Composing Time – amount of time students spent writing the paper

Time 0-…
(students had as much time as they needed to complete their paper)

Not indicated

All measures are based on responses to writing prompts in the selected genres (story writing or persuasive essay). Before the study, prompts were evaluated by one, third-grade and two, second-grade teachers in terms of suitability forth is population. All prompts included in the study were selected as appropriate by the teachers.

Number of words – total number of words, included all written words regardless of spelling which represented a spoken word

Number 0-…

All papers were scored for total number of words by first author and ½ of the papers were rescored by a graduate student.
Interrater reliability was 0.99

Story elements

Total of binary scores (0 or 1) for each of the 7 elements (main character(s), locale, time, what the main character(s) want to do [goals], action to achieve goal(s), consequence of actions, and characters’ reactions) 0-7

All stories were scored by a trained graduate student and a second trained graduate student scored ½ of the compositions
Interrater reliability = 0.86

Persuasive elements

Rated on binary scale (0 or 1) for 4 elements (premise, reason, examples, and conclusion) where reasons and examples get a point for each instance.
0 - …

All stories were scored by a trained graduate student and a second trained graduate student scored ½ of the compositions
Interrater reliability = 0.86


Likert-like scale 1-8 (1 is of low quality, 8 is of high quality) Total Quality score is the average score of the two raters

Interrater reliability
Story = 0.87
Persuasive = 0.93


Broader Measure Score type & range of measure Reliability statistics Relevance to program instructional content

Not Applicable





Number of Outcome Measures: 15 Writing

Mean ES - Targeted: Data Unavailable*u

Mean ES - Broader: Data Unavailable

Effect Size:

Targeted Measures

Construct Measure Effect Size
Writing Composing Time Story Prompt Only
Writing Number of Words Story Prompt Only
Writing Elements Story Prompt Only
Writing Quality Story Prompt Only
Writing Composing Time Persuasive Prompt Only
Writing Number of Words Persuasive Prompt Only
Writing Elements Persuasive Prompt Only 1.90***, u
Writing Quality Persuasive Prompt Only 2.10***, u
Writing Composing Time Narrative Prompt Only
Writing Number of Words Narrative Prompt Only
Writing Elements Narrative Prompt Only
Writing Quality Narrative Prompt Only
Writing Composing Time Informative Prompt Only
Writing Number of Words Informative Prompt Only
Writing Quality Informative Prompt Only

 Broader Measures

Construct Measure Effect Size
  Not Applicable  


*      p ≤ 0.05
**    p ≤ 0.01
***  p ≤ 0.001
–      Developer was unable to provide necessary data for NCII to calculate effect sizes
u      Effect size is based on unadjusted means
†      Effect size based on unadjusted means not reported due to lack of pretest group equivalency, and effect size based on adjusted means is not available


Visual Analysis (Single Subject Design): N/A

Disaggregated Data for Demographic Subgroups: No

Disaggregated Data for <20th Percentile: No

Administration Group Size: Individual, Small Group, (n=2)

Duration of Intervention: 20 minutes, 3 times a week, 10.7 weeks

Minimum Interventionist Requirements: Paraprofessional, 2 weeks of training

Reviewed by WWC or E-ESSA: No

What Works Clearinghouse Review

This program was not reviewed by What Works Clearinghouse.


Evidence for ESSA

This program was not reviewed by Evidence for ESSA.

Other Research: Potentially Eligible for NCII Review: 53 studies

Adkins, M. H. (2005). Self-Regulated Strategy Strategy Development and Generalization Instruction: Effects on Story Writing among Second and Third Grade Students with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders. Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation. University of Maryland, College Park, MD.

Albertson, L. R. (1998). A Cognitive-Behavioral Intervention Study: Assessing the Effects of Instruction on Story Writing. Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation. University of Washington, Seattle, WA.

Albertson, L. R., & Billingsley, F. F. (1997, March 24-28). Improving Young Writers' Planning and Reviewing Skills while Story-Writing. Paper Presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Chicago, IL.

Anderson, A. A. (1997). The Effects of Sociocognitive Writing Strategy Instruction on the Writing Achievement and Writing Self-Efficacy of Students with Disabilities and Typical Achievement in an Urban Elementary School. Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation. University of Houston, Houston, TX.

Asaro, K., & Saddler, B. (2010). Planning Instruction and Self-Regulation Training: Effects on Writers with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Exceptional Children, 77, 107-124.

Cuenca-Sanchez, Y. (2010). Middle School Students with Emotional Disorders: Determined to Meet Their Needs Through Persuasive Writing. Unpublished Dissertation. George Mason University.

Delano, M. (2007a). Improving Written Language Performance of Adolescents with Asperger Syndrome. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 40, 345-351.

Delano, M. (2007b). Use of Strategy Instruction to Improve the Story Writing Skills of a Student with Asperger Syndrome. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 22, 252-259. doi:10.1177/1088357607022040701.

De La Paz, S. (2001). Teaching Writing to Students with Attention Deficit Disorders and Specific Language Impairment. The Journal of Educational Research, 95, 37-47.

De La Paz, S. & Felton, M. (2010). Reading and Writing from Multiple Source Documents in History: Effects of Strategy Instruction with Low to Average High School Writers. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 35, 174-192. doi:10.1016/j.cedpsych.2010.03.001.

De La Paz, S., & Graham, S. (1997). Strategy Instruction in Planning: Effects of the Writing Performance and Behavior of Students with Learning Difficulties. Exceptional Children, 63, 167-181.

De La Paz, S., & Graham, S. (2002). Explicitly Teaching Strategies, Skills, and Knowledge: Writing Instruction in Middle School Classrooms. Journal of Educational Psychology, 94, 291-304.

Fidalgo, R., Torrance, M., & Garcia, J. N. (2008). The Long-Term Effects of Strategy-Focused Writing Instruction for Grade Six Students. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 33, 672-693.

Germain, J. C. (2004). Remediation of Written Expression Deficits in an Elementary School Population. Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation. University of Northern Colorado, Greeley, CO.

Glaser, C., & Brunstein, J. (2007). Improving Fourth-Grade Students' Composition Skills: Effects of Strategy Instruction and Self-Regulation Procedures, Journal of Educational Psychology, 99, 297-310.

Graham, S., & Harris, K. R. (1989b). Improving Learning Disabled Students' Skills at Composing Essays: Self-Instructional Strategy Training. Exceptional Children, 56, 201-214.

Graham, S., & MacArthur, C. (1988). Improving Learning Disabled Students' Skills at Revising Essays Produced on a Word Processor: Self-Instructional Strategy Training. The Journal of Special Education, 22, 133-152.

Graham, S., MacArthur, C., Schwartz, S., & Page-Voth, V. (1992). Improving the Compositions of Students with Learning Disabilities Using a Strategy Involving Product and Process Goal Setting. Exceptional Children, 58, 322-334.

Hacker, D., Dole, J., Ferguson, M., Adamson, S., Roundy, L., & Scarpulla, L. (2011). The Short-Term and Long-Term Writing Gains Using Self-Regulated Strategy Development in Middle School. Manuscript Submitted for Publication.

Harris, K. R., & Graham, S. (1985). Improving Learning Disables Students' Composition Skills: Self-Control Strategy Training. Learning Disability Quarterly, 8, 27-36.

Harris, K. R., Graham, S., & Atkins, M. (2012). Tier 2, Teacher Implemented Writing Strategies Instruction Following Practice-Based Professional Development. Manuscript Submitted for Publication.

Harris, K. R., Lane, K., Driscoll, S., Graham, S., Wilson, K., Sandmel, K., Brindle, M., & Schatschneider, C. (In Press). Teacher-Implemented Class-Wide Writing Intervention Using Self-Regulated Strategy Development for Students with and without Behavior Concerns. Elementary School Journal.

Jacobson, L. (2009). Improving the Writing Performance of High School Students with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Writing Difficulties. Unpublished Dissertation. University of Nebraska.

Jacobson, L, & Reid, R. (2010). Improving the Persuasive Essay Writing of High School Students with ADHD. Exceptional Children, 76(2), 157-174.

Kiuhara, S. A., O'Neill, R. E., Hawken, L. S., & Graham, S. (2012). The Effectiveness of Teaching 10th-Grade Students STOP, AIMS, and DARE for Planning and Drafting Persuasive Text. Exceptional Children, 78(3), 335-355.

Korducki, R. A. (2001). An Instructional Program Integrating Strategies for Composition and Self-Regulation. Effects on the English and Spanish Language Writing Skills of Bilingual Latino Students with Learning Difficulties. Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation. The University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI.

Lane, K., Graham, S., Harris, K. R., Little, M. A., Sandmel, K., & Brindle, M. (2010). Story Writing: The Effects of Self-Regulated Strategy Development for Second Grade Students with Writing and Behavioral Difficulties. The Journal of Special Education, 44, 107-128.

Lane, K., Harris, K. R., Graham, S., Weisenbach, J., Brindle, M., & Morphy, P. (2008). The Effects of Self-Regulated Strategy Development on the Writing Performance of Second Grade Students with Behavioral and Writing Difficulties. The Journal of Special Education, 41, 234-253.

Lienemann, T., Graham, S., Leader-Janssen, B., & Reid, R. (2006). Improving the Writing Performance of Struggling Writers in Second Grade. The Journal of Special Education, 40, 66-78.

Lienemann, T. O., & Reid, R. (2008). Using Self-Regulated Strategy Development to Improve Expository Writing with Students with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Exceptional Children, 74, 471-486.

Little, A., Lane, K., Harris, K., Graham, S., Brindle, M., & Sandmel, K. (2010). Self-Regulated Strategies Development for Persuasive Writing in Tandem with Schoolwide Positive Behavioral Support: Effects for Second Grade Students with Behavioral and Writing Difficulties. Behavioral Disorders, 35, 157-179.

Luschen, K., Kim, O., & Reid, R. (2012). Paraeducator-Led Strategy Instruction for Struggling Writers. Exceptionality, 20(4), 250-265.

MacArthur, C., & Philippakos, Z. (2010). Instruction in a Strategy for Compare-Contrast Writing. Exceptional Children, 76, 438-456.

MacArthur, C. A., Schwartz, S. S., & Graham, S. (1991). Effects of Reciprocal Peer Revision Strategy in Special Education Classrooms. Learning Disabilties Research, 6, 201-210.

Mason, L. H., Kubina, R., & Hoover, T. (In Press). Effects of Quick Writing Instruction for High School Students with Emotional and Behavioral Disabilties. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders.

Mason, L. H., Kubina Jr., R., M., Kostewicz, D. E., Cramer, A. M., & Datchuk, S. (2013). Improving Quick Writing Performance of Middle-School Struggling Learners. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 38(3), 236-246.

Mason, L. H., Kubina, R., & Taft, R. (2009). Developing Quick Writing Skills of Middle School Students with Disabilities. Journal of Special Education. Journal of Special Education Online First, October 21st, 2009. doi:10.1177/0022466909350780.

Mason, L. H., Kubina, R., Valasa, L. L., Cramer, A. (2010). Evaluating Effective Writing Instruction of Adolescent Students in an Emotional and Behavior Support Setting. Behavioral Disorders, 35, 140-156.

Mason, L. H., Meadan, H., Hedin, L., & Cramers, A. (In Press). A Qualitative Examination of Intervention Effects on Students' Motivation for Reading and Writing. Reading and Writing Quarterly.

Mason, L. H., & Shriner, J. (2008). Self-Regulated Strategy Development Instruction for Six Elementary Students with Emotional Behavioral Disorders. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 21, 71-93.

Mason, L. H., Snyder, K. H., Sukhram, D. P., & Kedem, Y. (2006). TWA + PLANS Strategies for Expository Reading and Writing: Effects for Nine Fourth-Grade Students. Exceptional Children, 73, 69-89.

Mastropieri, M., Scruggs, T., Mills, S., Cerar, N., Cuenca-Sanchez, Y., Allen-Bronaugh, D., Regan, K. (2009). Persuading Students with Emotional Disabilities to Write Fluently. Behavioral Disorders, 35, 19-40.

Reid, R., & Lienemann, T. O. (2006). Self-Regulated Strategy Development for Written Expression with Students with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Exceptional Children, 73, 53-68.

Rogevich, M., & Perin, D. (2008). Effects on Science Summarization of a Reading Comprehension Interventino for Adolescents with Behavioral and Attentional Disorders. Exceptional Children, 74, 135-154.

Saddler, B. (2006). Increasing Story-Writing Ability through Self-Regulated Strategy Development: Effects on Young Writers with Learning Disabilities. Learning Disability Quarterly, 29, 291-305.

Saddler, B., & Asaro, K. (2007). Increasing Story Quality through Planning and Revising: Effects on Young Writers with Learning Disabilities. Learning Disability Quarterly, 30, 223-234.

Saddler, B., Moran, S., Graham, S. & Harris, K. R. (2004). Preventing Writing Difficulties: The Effects of Planning Strategy Instruction on the Writing Performance of Struggling Writers. Exceptionality, 12, 3-17.

Sawyer, R., Graham, S., & Harris, K. R. (1992). Direct Teaching, Strategy Instruction and Strategy Instruction with Explicit Self-Regulation: Effects on the Composition Skills and Self-Efficacy of Students with Learning Disabilities. Journal of Educational Psychology, 84, 340-352.

Schnee, A. (2010). Student Writing Performance: Identifying the Effects when Combining Planning and Revising Instructional Strategies. Unpublished Dissertation. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Sexton, M., Harris, K. R., & Graham, S. (1998). Self-Regulated Strategy Development and the Writing Process: Effects on Essay Writing and Attributions. Exceptional Children, 64, 295-311.

Trela, K. (2008). The Effects of I Write Now Strategy on High School Students with Significant Cognitive Disabilities Participation in Composing an Opinion Paragraph. Unpublished Dissertation. University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Wong, B. Y. L., Hoskyn, M., Jai, D., Ellis, P., & Watson, K. (2008). The Comparative Efficacy of Two Approaches to Teaching Sixth Graders Opinion Essay Writing. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 111, 57-63.

Zumbrunn, S. (2010). Nurturing Young Students' Writing Knowledge, Self-Regulation, Attitudes, and Self-Efficacy: The Effects of Self-Regulated Strategy Development. Unpublished Dissertation. University of Nebraska.