“It takes two”: The added value of structured peer-assisted writing in explicit writing instruction

Fien De Smedt, Steve Graham, Hilde Van Keer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


High-quality writing instruction is vital to supporting developing writers as they learn to plan, compose, and revise text. It is equally important that such instruction enhances students’ self-efficacy for writing as well as their motivation to write. The main aim of the present study was to investigate the incremental effect of peer-assisted writing in an explicit writing instruction program on Flemish upper-elementary students’ writing performance, self-efficacy for writing, and writing motivation. A randomized control design, using multilevel analyses, was conducted to determine the differential effectiveness of two experimental writing treatments (EI+PA and EI+IND) compared to a business as usual control condition (BAU). Both experimental writing treatments involved explicit instruction in writing, with students in one condition writing with a peer (EI+PA) and students in the other condition writing individually (EI+IND). Participating classes (N = 431 students, N = 20 teachers) were randomly assigned to the three conditions and students were assessed before and after instruction. EI+PA students outperformed both EI+IND and BAU students on the writing measure in the instructed genre but not in the uninstructed genre. Additionally, although EI+PA students were more confident as to their capability (self-efficacy) to generate ideas when compared to their EI+IND counterparts, EI+PA students’ writing motivation, characterized by internal or external motives, was significantly lower than EI+IND students. The findings of the present study corroborate and extend the limited number of prior studies illustrating the surplus value of peer-assisted writing in explicit writing instruction programs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101835
JournalContemporary Educational Psychology
StatePublished - Jan 2020


  • Explicit writing instruction
  • Peer-assisted writing
  • Self-efficacy for writing
  • Writing motivation
  • Writing performance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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