Writing activities and reading comprehension: What’s the link?

This article in Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal presents a meta-analysis on the effects of different writing activities on reading comprehension. A total of 19 studies, involving pupils at both primary and secondary level, met inclusion criteria, resulting in four comparisons between different writing activities:

  • summary writing versus answering questions;
  • summary writing versus note taking;
  • answering questions versus note taking; and
  • answering questions versus extended writing activities.

Results indicated that there were no statistically significant differences for any of the comparisons when effects were averaged over all reading comprehension measures, excluding treatment-inherent measures. However, statistically significant differences were found for two of the comparisons on specific measures:

  • Extended writing enhanced reading comprehension better than question answering on measures where comprehension was assessed via an extended writing activity; and
  • Summary writing enhanced reading comprehension better than question answering on a free recall measure.

According to the authors, these results “provide limited support for the theoretical viewpoint that writing activities are differentially effective in improving reading comprehension based on how closely the writing activities are aligned with a particular measure.”

Source: Comparing Effects of Different Writing Activities on Reading Comprehension: A Meta-analysis (2013), Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, (6)1.

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