The impact of experiential instruction methods and student self-regulatory behaviors on writing performance among college students

Date of Completion

January 2002


Education, Community College|Education, Curriculum and Instruction




One of the major questions facing American college and university educators today is how to improve the skills of undergraduates who lack writing proficiency. Studies of instructional methods indicate that writing performance may be influenced by the extent to which instructors use experiential instructional methods. In addition, self-regulation research has demonstrated that student use of self-regulatory behaviors can have a positive impact on writing performance. The purpose of this study was to address the question: To what extent are instructor use of experiential methods and student use of self-regulatory behaviors related to student writing performance? ^ The study used a correlational design to measure the extent to which instructor use of problem solving, reflection, and feedback activities and student perceived use of goal-setting, self-monitoring, and feedback-seeking behaviors explained variance in student writing performance. The sample consisted of 7 instructors and 116 students in developmental writing classes at a community college. Each instructor kept an instructional log and completed a questionnaire to indicate the extent to which experiential instructional activities were used during a 6-week period of writing instruction. Student volunteers from the instructors' developmental writing classes completed self-report questionnaires designed to measure their perceived use of goal-setting, self-monitoring, and feedback-seeking during writing activities. The dependent variable student writing performance was measured using midterm writing samples, which were evaluated by trained raters with writing expertise using criteria from national studies of writing proficiency. ^ A hierarchical multiple regression analysis revealed that the 8 independent variables explained 19% of the variance in student writing performance. Extensive use of problem solving and reflection activities by instructors was shown to have a large effect (ES = .67) on student writing performance. Based upon these findings, research to extend existing models of the writing process to include the impact of the environmental factors was suggested. This study addresses the needs of many adult students for whom access to education is contingent upon the development of effective written communication skills. The study's sample was diverse in terms of age, gender, and ethnicity, but extrapolation of the findings should be delimited to student populations with similar writing ability levels. ^