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Studies on writing development have grown in diversity and depth in recent decades, but remain fragmented along lines of theory, method, and age ranges or populations studied. Meaningful, competent writing performances that meet the demands of the moment rely on many kinds of well-practiced and deeply understood capacities working together; however, these capacities’ realization and developmental trajectories can vary from one individual to another. Without an integrated framework to understand lifespan development of writing abilities in its variation, high-stakes decisions about curriculum, instruction, and assessment are often made in unsystematic ways that may fail to support the development they are intended to facilitate; further, research may not consider the range of issues at stake in studying writing in any particular moment. To address this need and synthesize what is known about the various dimensions of writing development at different ages, the coauthors of this essay have engaged in sustained discussion, drawing on a range of theoretical and methodological perspectives. Drawing on research from different disciplinary perspectives, they propose eight principles upon which an account of writing development consistent with research findings could be founded. These principles are proposed as a basis for further lines of inquiry into how writing develops across the lifespan.


Institute for Learning Sciences and Teacher Education

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Open Access Journal Article

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Open Access