Learning Strategies Curriculum: Essay Test-Taking Strategy
Study: Therrien et al. (2009)

Summary

The Essay Test-Taking Strategy program was designed to help students deal effectively with the complex test-taking demands of courses in school, as well as the essay test-taking demands associated with state competency tests, high-stakes tests, and college entrance exams. The strategy requires students to analyze the essay question to determine what information is required and what kinds of relationships need to be expressed related to the information. Next, students organize information they know into a brief outline listing main ideas, details, and the sequence in which their ideas will be covered. They then write their answer using a structure that includes an introduction and sentences or paragraphs about the main ideas in the outline. Finally, they revise the answer and edit it to create a final product.

Target Grades:
6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
Target Populations:
  • Students with learning disabilities
  • Any student at risk for academic failure
Area(s) of Focus:
  • Other: Essay Test Taking
Where to Obtain:
Edge Enterprises, Inc.
Edge Enterprises, Inc., PO Box 1304, Lawrence, KS 66044
785-749-1473
www.edgeenterprisesinc.com
Initial Cost:
$14.00 per per teacher
Replacement Cost:
Contact vendor for pricing details.

This program is published in book form. It is contained in a single paperback book. The book contains step-by-step instructions on how to implement the program, learning sheets for students, and all the materials needed to implement the program.

Staff Qualified to Administer Include:
  • Special Education Teacher
  • General Education Teacher
  • Reading Specialist
  • EL Specialist
  • Interventionist
  • Student Support Services Personnel (e.g., counselor, social worker, school psychologist, etc.)
  • Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Therapist or Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA)
Training Requirements:
3 hours of training

Instructors are trained in a workshop with other teachers. The workshop includes lecture, demonstrations, discussion, practice activities, and planning for implementation.


Training materials are available through the University of Kansas Center for Research on Learning (KU-CRL). They have been used by the International Network of Certified Professional Developers associated with the KU-CRL since 2005. This network has trained teachers across the nation in the Essay Test-taking Strategy.

Access to Technical Support:
Yes, they can obtain support through the KU-CRL (785-864-4780) and the International Network of Certified Professional Developers associated with the KU-CRL.
Recommended Administration Formats Include:
  • Individual students
  • Small group of students
Minimum Number of Minutes Per Session:
45
Minimum Number of Sessions Per Week:
4
Minimum Number of Weeks:
2
Detailed Implementation Manual or Instructions Available:
Yes
Is Technology Required?
No technology is required.

Program Information

Descriptive Information

Please provide a description of program, including intended use:

The Essay Test-Taking Strategy program was designed to help students deal effectively with the complex test-taking demands of courses in school, as well as the essay test-taking demands associated with state competency tests, high-stakes tests, and college entrance exams. The strategy requires students to analyze the essay question to determine what information is required and what kinds of relationships need to be expressed related to the information. Next, students organize information they know into a brief outline listing main ideas, details, and the sequence in which their ideas will be covered. They then write their answer using a structure that includes an introduction and sentences or paragraphs about the main ideas in the outline. Finally, they revise the answer and edit it to create a final product.

The program is intended for use in the following age(s) and/or grade(s).

not selected Age 0-3
not selected Age 3-5
not selected Kindergarten
not selected First grade
not selected Second grade
not selected Third grade
not selected Fourth grade
not selected Fifth grade
selected Sixth grade
selected Seventh grade
selected Eighth grade
selected Ninth grade
selected Tenth grade
selected Eleventh grade
selected Twelth grade


The program is intended for use with the following groups.

not selected Students with disabilities only
selected Students with learning disabilities
not selected Students with intellectual disabilities
not selected Students with emotional or behavioral disabilities
not selected English language learners
selected Any student at risk for academic failure
not selected Any student at risk for emotional and/or behavioral difficulties
not selected Other
If other, please describe:

ACADEMIC INTERVENTION: Please indicate the academic area of focus.

Early Literacy

not selected Print knowledge/awareness
not selected Alphabet knowledge
not selected Phonological awareness
not selected Phonological awarenessEarly writing
not selected Early decoding abilities
not selected Other

If other, please describe:

Language

not selected Expressive and receptive vocabulary
not selected Grammar
not selected Syntax
not selected Listening comprehension
not selected Other
If other, please describe:

Reading

not selected Phonological awareness
not selected Phonics/word study
not selected Comprehension
not selected Fluency
not selected Vocabulary
not selected Spelling
not selected Other
If other, please describe:

Mathematics

not selected Computation
not selected Concepts and/or word problems
not selected Whole number arithmetic
not selected Comprehensive: Includes computation/procedures, problem solving, and mathematical concepts
not selected Algebra
not selected Fractions, decimals (rational number)
not selected Geometry and measurement
not selected Other
If other, please describe:

Writing

not selected Handwriting
not selected Spelling
not selected Sentence construction
not selected Planning and revising
selected Other
If other, please describe:
Essay Test Taking

BEHAVIORAL INTERVENTION: Please indicate the behavior area of focus.

Externalizing Behavior

not selected Physical Aggression
not selected Verbal Threats
not selected Property Destruction
not selected Noncompliance
not selected High Levels of Disengagement
not selected Disruptive Behavior
not selected Social Behavior (e.g., Peer interactions, Adult interactions)
not selected Other
If other, please describe:

Internalizing Behavior

not selected Depression
not selected Anxiety
not selected Social Difficulties (e.g., withdrawal)
not selected School Phobia
not selected Other
If other, please describe:

Acquisition and cost information

Where to obtain:

Address
Edge Enterprises, Inc., PO Box 1304, Lawrence, KS 66044
Phone Number
785-749-1473
Website
www.edgeenterprisesinc.com

Initial cost for implementing program:

Cost
$14.00
Unit of cost
per teacher

Replacement cost per unit for subsequent use:

Cost
Unit of cost
Duration of license

Additional cost information:

Describe basic pricing plan and structure of the program. Also, provide information on what is included in the published program, as well as what is not included but required for implementation (e.g., computer and/or internet access)

This program is published in book form. It is contained in a single paperback book. The book contains step-by-step instructions on how to implement the program, learning sheets for students, and all the materials needed to implement the program.

Program Specifications

Setting for which the program is designed.

selected Individual students
selected Small group of students
not selected BI ONLY: A classroom of students

If group-delivered, how many students compose a small group?

   3-7

Program administration time

Minimum number of minutes per session
45
Minimum number of sessions per week
4
Minimum number of weeks
2
selected N/A (implemented until effective)

If intervention program is intended to occur over less frequently than 60 minutes a week for approximately 8 weeks, justify the level of intensity:
The intervention is meant to be introduced intensively during two weeks. In our study, it was introduced in 4, 42 min. sessions per week for two weeks. Thereafter, students practiced using the strategy on practice tests and then on tests in their courses. The teacher analyzes their use of the strategy on the tests and provides feedback to them. The practice activities continue until students reach mastery on their use of the strategy.

Does the program include highly specified teacher manuals or step by step instructions for implementation?
Yes

BEHAVIORAL INTERVENTION: Is the program affiliated with a broad school- or class-wide management program?

If yes, please identify and describe the broader school- or class-wide management program:

Does the program require technology?
No

If yes, what technology is required to implement your program?
not selected Computer or tablet
not selected Internet connection
not selected Other technology (please specify)

If your program requires additional technology not listed above, please describe the required technology and the extent to which it is combined with teacher small-group instruction/intervention:

Training

How many people are needed to implement the program ?
1

Is training for the instructor or interventionist required?
Yes
If yes, is the necessary training free or at-cost?
At-cost

Describe the time required for instructor or interventionist training:
3 hours of training

Describe the format and content of the instructor or interventionist training:
Instructors are trained in a workshop with other teachers. The workshop includes lecture, demonstrations, discussion, practice activities, and planning for implementation.

What types or professionals are qualified to administer your program?

selected Special Education Teacher
selected General Education Teacher
selected Reading Specialist
not selected Math Specialist
selected EL Specialist
selected Interventionist
selected Student Support Services Personnel (e.g., counselor, social worker, school psychologist, etc.)
selected Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Therapist or Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA)
not selected Paraprofessional
not selected Other

If other, please describe:

Does the program assume that the instructor or interventionist has expertise in a given area?
No   

If yes, please describe: 


Are training manuals and materials available?
Yes

Describe how the training manuals or materials were field-tested with the target population of instructors or interventionist and students:
Training materials are available through the University of Kansas Center for Research on Learning (KU-CRL). They have been used by the International Network of Certified Professional Developers associated with the KU-CRL since 2005. This network has trained teachers across the nation in the Essay Test-taking Strategy.

Do you provide fidelity of implementation guidance such as a checklist for implementation in your manual?
No

Can practitioners obtain ongoing professional and technical support?
Yes

If yes, please specify where/how practitioners can obtain support:

Yes, they can obtain support through the KU-CRL (785-864-4780) and the International Network of Certified Professional Developers associated with the KU-CRL.

Summary of Evidence Base

Please identify, to the best of your knowledge, all the research studies that have been conducted to date supporting the efficacy of your program, including studies currently or previously submitted to NCII for review. Please provide citations only (in APA format); do not include any descriptive information on these studies. NCII staff will also conduct a search to confirm that the list you provide is accurate.

Therrien, W.J., Hughes, C.A., Kapelski, C., & Mokhtari, K. (2009).  Effectiveness of an essay test-taking strategy on students with learning disabilities performance on persuasive essays. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 42 (1). 14-24.

 

Woods-Groves, S., Therrien, W. J., Hua, Y., Hendrickson, J. M., Shaw, J. W., & Hughes, C. A. (2012). Effectiveness of an essay writing strategy for post-secondary students with developmental disabilities. Education and Training in Autism and Developmental Disabilities, 47(2), 210-222.

 

Woods-Groves, S., Therrien, W. J., Hua, Y., & Hendrickson, J. M. (2013). Essay-Writing Strategy for students enrolled in a postsecondary program for individuals with developmental disabilities. Remedial and Special Education, 34(3), 131-141.

 

Woods-Groves, S., Hua, Y., Therrien, W. J., Kaldenberg, E. R., Hendrickson, J. M., Lucas, K. G., & McAninch, M. J. (2014). An investigation of strategic writing instruction for post- secondary students with developmental disabilities. Education and Training in Autism and Developmental Disabilities, 49(2), 248-262.

 

Woods-Groves, S., Alqahtani, S. S., Balint-Langel, K., & Kern, A.  (in press). Electronic essay writing with postsecondary students with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Education and Training in Autism and Developmental Disabilities.

Study Information

Study Citations

Therrien, W. J., Hughes, C. A., Kapelski, C. & Mokhtari, K. (2009). Effectiveness of an essay test-taking strategy on students with learning disabilities performance on persuasive essays.. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 42(1) 14-24.

Participants Full Bobble

Describe how students were selected to participate in the study:
Students enrolled in seventh or eighth grade, had an identified learning disability in written expression and/or reading, who had a writing goal on their Individualized Education Program were selected for the study.

Describe how students were identified as being at risk for academic failure (AI) or as having emotional or behavioral difficulties (BI):
All students were identified as having a learning disability via a discrepancy model following state of Ohio guidelines,

ACADEMIC INTERVENTION: What percentage of participants were at risk, as measured by one or more of the following criteria:
  • below the 30th percentile on local or national norm, or
  • identified disability related to the focus of the intervention?
100.0%

BEHAVIORAL INTERVENTION: What percentage of participants were at risk, as measured by one or more of the following criteria:
  • emotional disability label,
  • placed in an alternative school/classroom,
  • non-responsive to Tiers 1 and 2, or
  • designation of severe problem behaviors on a validated scale or through observation?
%

Specify which condition is the submitted intervention:
The submitted intervention (instruction in the Essay Test-taking Strategy) is the treatment condition.

Specify which condition is the control condition:
The control condition was business as usual. j

If you have a third, competing condition, in addition to your control and intervention condition, identify what the competing condition is (data from this competing condition will not be used):

Using the tables that follow, provide data demonstrating comparability of the program group and control group in terms of demographics.

Grade Level

Demographic Program
Number
Control
Number
Effect Size: Cox Index
for Binary Differences
Age less than 1
Age 1
Age 2
Age 3
Age 4
Age 5
Kindergarten
Grade 1
Grade 2
Grade 3
Grade 4
Grade 5
Grade 6
Grade 7
Grade 8
Grade 9
Grade 10
Grade 11
Grade 12

Race–Ethnicity

Demographic Program
Number
Control
Number
Effect Size: Cox Index
for Binary Differences
African American
American Indian
Asian/Pacific Islander
Hispanic
White
Other

Socioeconomic Status

Demographic Program
Number
Control
Number
Effect Size: Cox Index
for Binary Differences
Subsidized Lunch
No Subsidized Lunch

Disability Status

Demographic Program
Number
Control
Number
Effect Size: Cox Index
for Binary Differences
Speech-Language Impairments
Learning Disabilities 21 21 0.00
Behavior Disorders
Emotional Disturbance
Intellectual Disabilities
Other
Not Identified With a Disability

ELL Status

Demographic Program
Number
Control
Number
Effect Size: Cox Index
for Binary Differences
English Language Learner
Not English Language Learner

Gender

Demographic Program
Number
Control
Number
Effect Size: Cox Index
for Binary Differences
Female 7 8 0.13
Male 14 13 0.13

Mean Effect Size

0.09

For any substantively (e.g., effect size ≥ 0.25 for pretest or demographic differences) or statistically significant (e.g., p < 0.05) pretest differences between groups in the descriptions below, please describe the extent to which these differences are related to the impact of the treatment. For example, if analyses were conducted to determine that outcomes from this study are due to the intervention and not demographic characteristics, please describe the results of those analyses here.

A series of analyses of variance (ANOVAS) indicated no significant difference on pretest scores collected as part of the study for control and treatment group students on three measures. See Table 1 in the article on page 16 for the statistics and effect sizes (Cohen's d).

Design Full Bobble

What method was used to determine students' placement in treatment/control groups?
Random
Please describe the assignment method or the process for defining treatment/comparison groups.
Students were first blocked by classrooms, ensuring the an equal number of students from each of three classrooms were represented in the treatment and control groups. Then a randomized class list was generated for each class. From this list, students were assigned to treatment or control using a random digits number chart with students who received an even number assigned to the treatment and those receiving an odd number assigned to the control.

What was the unit of assignment?
Students
If other, please specify:

Please describe the unit of assignment:
Individual students were assigned to either treatment or control.

What unit(s) were used for primary data analysis?
not selected Schools
not selected Teachers
selected Students
not selected Classes
not selected Other
If other, please specify:

Please describe the unit(s) used for primary data analysis:
Individual student data were used for the primary data analysis.

Fidelity of Implementation Full Bobble

How was the program delivered?
not selected Individually
selected Small Group
not selected Classroom

If small group, answer the following:

Average group size
7
Minimum group size
7
Maximum group size
7

What was the duration of the intervention (If duration differed across participants, settings, or behaviors, describe for each.)?

Weeks
2.00
Sessions per week
4.00
Duration of sessions in minutes
42.00
What were the background, experience, training, and ongoing support of the instructors or interventionists?
The instructor was a graduate student who had earned a Master's Degree in reading education. He was a certified teacher and had taught high school language arts. He read the instructor's manual and was trained by the first author to implement the instruction.

Describe when and how fidelity of treatment information was obtained.
Two graduate students observed the instruction and independently recorded the implementation or omission of each step in a list of steps for the program during 100% of the instructional sessions. Agreements between the two scorers were tallied. The number of agreements was divided by the total number of agreements possible.

What were the results on the fidelity-of-treatment implementation measure?
The percentage of agreement was 97.5% with a range of 87.5% to 100% per session.

Was the fidelity measure also used in control classrooms?
No. There was no instruction for the control students. They simply attended their study hall as usual. Thus, there was no instruction to observe.

Measures and Results

Measures Targeted : Half Bobble
Measures Broader : Full Bobble

Study measures are classified as targeted, broader, or administrative data according to the following definitions:

  • Targeted measures
    Assess outcomes, such as competencies or skills that the program was directly targeted to improve.
    • In the academic domain, targeted measures typically are not the very items taught but rather novel items structured similarly to the content addressed in the program. For example, if a program taught word-attack skills, a targeted measure would be decoding of pseudo words. If a program taught comprehension of cause-effect passages, a targeted measure would be answering questions about cause-effect passages structured similarly to those used during intervention, but not including the very passages used for intervention.
    • In the behavioral domain, targeted measures evaluate aspects of external or internal behavior the program was directly targeted to improve and are operationally defined.
  • Broader measures
    Assess outcomes that are related to the competencies or skills targeted by the program but not directly taught in the program.
    • In the academic domain, if a program taught word-level reading skill, a broader measure would be answering questions about passages the student reads. If a program taught calculation skill, a broader measure would be solving word problems that require the same kinds of calculation skill taught in the program.
    • In the behavioral domain, if a program taught a specific skill like on-task behavior in one classroom, a broader measure would be academic performance in that setting or on-task behavior in another setting.
  • Administrative data measures apply only to behavioral intervention tools and are measures such as office discipline referrals (ODRs) and graduation rates which do not have psychometric properties as do other, more traditional targeted or broader measures.

Click here for more information on effect size.


What populations are you submitting outcome data for?
selected Full sample
not selected Students at or below the 20th percentile
not selected English language learners
not selected Racial/ethnic subgroups
not selected Economically disadvantaged students (low socioeconomic status)
Targeted Measure Reverse Coded? Reliability Relevance Exposure
Broader Measure Reverse Coded? Reliability Relevance Exposure
Administrative Data Measure Reverse Coded? Relevance

Posttest Data

Targeted Measures (Full Sample)

Measure Sample Type Effect Size P

Broader Measures (Full Sample)

Measure Sample Type Effect Size P

Administrative Measures (Full Sample)

Measure Sample Type Effect Size P

Targeted Measures (Subgroups)

Measure Sample Type Effect Size P

Broader Measures (Subgroups)

Measure Sample Type Effect Size P

Administrative Measures (Subgroups)

Measure Sample Type Effect Size P
For any substantively (e.g., effect size ≥ 0.25 for pretest or demographic differences) or statistically significant (e.g., p < 0.05) pretest differences, please describe the extent to which these differences are related to the impact of the treatment. For example, if analyses were conducted to determine that outcomes from this study are due to the intervention and not pretest characteristics, please describe the results of those analyses here.
There were no pretest differences discovered. See Table 1 on page 16.
Please explain any missing data or instances of measures with incomplete pre- or post-test data.
Two students in the control group were missing during the posttest. Their data have not been included in the study.
If you have excluded a variable or data that are reported in the study being submitted, explain the rationale for exclusion:
A third group of students was included in the study. These were 10 students (7 males/3 female; 8th graders) without disabilities who were used as a normative comparison group for the pretest. The reasoning was that if the students in the treatment group scored as well as the normative group on the posttest, this would be a measure of whether the treatment group students were equivalent in performance as their non-disabled peers. The results showed that the treatment group students scored significantly higher than the normative group on the strategy specific measure. The comparisons on the general essay measure were mixed. Since we couldn't figure out how to report the results for this third group in the tables, we did not report the results for these comparisons. However, they are clearly displayed in Tables 4 and 5 in the article under the heading "Regular Education."
Describe the analyses used to determine whether the intervention produced changes in student outcomes:
The analyses that were utilized were ANCOVA comparisons between the treatment and control groups while using the pretest scores as the covariate. (These analyses were also used between the treatment group and the normative group.)

Additional Research

Is the program reviewed by WWC or E-ESSA?
No
Summary of WWC / E-ESSA Findings :

What Works Clearinghouse Review

This program was not reviewed by What Works Clearinghouse.

Evidence for ESSA

No studies met inclusion requirements.
How many additional research studies are potentially eligible for NCII review?
4
Citations for Additional Research Studies :

Woods-Groves, S., Therrien, W. J., Hua, Y., Hendrickson, J. M., Shaw, J. W., & Hughes, C. A. (2012). Effectiveness of an essay writing strategy for post-secondary students with developmental disabilities. Education and Training in Autism and Developmental Disabilities, 47(2), 210-222.

 

Woods-Groves, S., Therrien, W. J., Hua, Y., & Hendrickson, J. M. (2013). Essay-Writing Strategy for students enrolled in a postsecondary program for individuals with developmental disabilities.  Remedial and Special Education, 34(3), 131-141.

 

Woods-Groves, S., Hua, Y., Therrien, W. J., Kaldenberg, E. R., Hendrickson, J. M., Lucas, K. G., & McAninch, M. J. (2014). An investigation of strategic writing instruction for post- secondary students with developmental disabilities. Education and Training in Autism and Developmental Disabilities, 49(2), 248-262.

 

Woods-Groves, S., Alqahtani, S. S., Balint-Langel, K., & Kern, A. (in press). Electronic essay writing with postsecondary students with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Education and Training in Autism and Developmental Disabilities.

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