Primary Grade Writing Instruction: A National Survey

Laura Cutler, Steve Graham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

318 Scopus citations


A random sample of primary grade teachers (N = 178; 97% female) from across the United States was surveyed about their classroom instructional practices in writing. Most of the participating teachers (72%) took an eclectic approach to writing instruction, combining elements from the 2 most common methods for teaching writing: process writing and skills instruction. Although 90% of the teachers reported using most of the writing instructional practices that were included in the survey, there was considerable variability between teachers in how often they used specific practices. The study provides support for the following 7 recommendations for reforming primary grade writing instruction: (a) increase amount of time students spend writing; (b) increase time spent writing expository text; (c) provide better balance between time spent writing, learning writing strategies, and teaching writing skills; (d) place more emphasis on fostering students' motivation for writing; (e) develop stronger connections for writing between home and school; (f) make computers a more integral part of the writing program; and (g) improve professional development for writing instruction in teacher education programs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)907-919
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Educational Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • composition
  • instruction
  • instructional practices
  • primary grades
  • writing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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