Classroom trials: A study of instruction with writing software

, ,


Cassidy, L., Yee, K., Schmidt, R., Vasquez, S., Means, B., & Krumm, A. (2016). Classroom trials: A study of instruction with writing software. Menlo Park, CA: SRI International.


This was a descriptive study on how secondary teachers implementing the Common Core State Standards for literacy used writing software to facilitate their instruction. Teachers from districts participating in the Literacy Design Collaborative volunteered to be in the study. They were trained on one of three software programs— Criterion (ETS), PEG Writing (Measurement, Inc.), or WriteToLearn (Pearson). The majority of teacher volunteers who were trained on the software used it with their students. Data were collected through an online teacher survey, analysis of backend system data, interviews, and classroom observations.

Most teachers reported that using the software (1) led them to assign more writing, (2) enabled them to focus more on the content and less on the grammar and mechanics of students’ writing, and (3) improved student writing. Teachers expressed frustration that the software was optimized for use with canned prompts and provided less detailed feedback on teacher-generated prompts.

Read more from SRI