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A random sample of teachers in grades 3 and 4 (N = 157) from across the United States were surveyed about their use of evidence-based writing practices, preparation to teach writing, and beliefs about writing. Teachers’ beliefs included their efficacy to teach writing, their orientations to teach writing, their attitude about teaching writing, and their attitudes about their own writing. The teachers’ responses raised some concerns about the quality of writing instruction third- and fourth-grade students receive, as teachers reported spending only 15 min a day teaching writing and students spend only 25 min a day at school writing. While teachers indicated they used a variety of evidence based writing practices in their classroom, a majority of these were applied infrequently. Further, three out of every four teachers reported that their college teacher preparation programs provided no or minimal instruction on how to teach writing. They further rated their preparation to teach writing lower than their preparation to teach reading, math, science, or social studies. On a more positive note, a majority of teachers asked students to write multiple paragraph texts relatively frequently (4 times a month or more often) and complete at least one narrative, informative, and persuasive writing assignment monthly. Teachers were also generally positive about teaching writing, their efficacy to teach writing, and their beliefs about their own writing. Finally, efficacy to teach writing and philosophical orientations to teaching writing each made a unique contribution to predicting teachers’ use of evidence based practices, whereas teacher preparation did the same for reported time spent teaching writing and reported time students wrote at school and home.


Institute for Learning Sciences and Teacher Education

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Journal Article

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