Reading-Writing Connections: Towards Integrative Literacy Science

Reading-Writing Connections: Towards Integrative Literacy Science

First Author: Rui Alexandre Alves -- Universidade do Porto
Additional authors/chairs: 
Teresa Limpo
Keywords: Reading, Writing, Literacy, Reading development, Writing development
Abstract / Summary: 

Reading-Writing is a two-way street that is currently burgeoning with research activity, which is not only uncovering important findings, but also targeting the development of an integrative literacy science. This symposium aims to contribute to both these ends, as it draws on the systematic analysis of Reading-Writing connections long started by Shanahan (1984, 2006, in press). Critically, across four studies common and specific components of reading and writing were targeted looking at the nature and direction of the connections established. Ahmed et al. analyzed data from 77 studies to jointly model components put forward by two influential theories of reading and writing. Noticeably, while both domains kept their independence, reading and writing were connected at the discourse level. Kim further explored connections at the discourse level and tested if reading experience mediates between reading comprehension and writing. McBride et al. inspected word reading and word spelling across Chinese and English orthographies in native and non-native Chinese speakers. While finding extensive overlap between reading and spelling components, there were no signs of skill transfer across orthographies. Coker et al. tested longitudinally if writing instruction impacted reading performance of first graders. Even if no signs of such impact were found, writing extended texts was positively associated with reading performance, which opens interesting possibilities of connections at the discourse level. On closing the symposium, Joshi will build a case for the development of integrative literacy science. Such integration is critical for higher-order conceptualization of literacy skills and its impact on literacy education and literacy achievement.

Symposium Papers: 

Using meta-analytic structural equation modeling to jointly model components of the Simple View of Reading (SVR) and the Not-so-Simple View of Writing (NSVW)

First Author/Chair:Yusra Ahmed -- U. of Houston
Additional authors/chairs: 
Richard Wagner ; Young-Suk Grace Kim

Purpose: We evaluated component skills of reading and writing using meta-analysis of overlapping indicators and predictors of literacy skills. Synthesized correlations from 77 studies were fit to separate and joint models of reading and writing. Method: Most samples included English-speaking students in Grades 1-7. Variables included decoding/orthography, reading comprehension, vocabulary/morphology, listening comprehension, oral expression, working memory, non-verbal reasoning, spelling, handwriting, writing quality, and CBM of writing. Results: The first model replicated and extended the SVR by including working memory as a predictor. The second model included the transcription, language and working memory components of the NSVW, but did not replicate this model, due to the absence of a well-defined construct for executive functioning. The last model examined the contributions of component skills to reading comprehension and written expression, and tested whether relations among component skills and writing are mediated through reading. Working memory was not related to reading or writing, language was related to reading and not writing, and transcription (handwriting and spelling) emerged as an important predictor of writing. The role of text reading was significant for writing quality but not CBM-writing. Conclusions: Meta-analysis provided one way to compare measures of the same construct (e.g., working memory) in multiple formats (e.g., in text vs. visual), and provided robust and generalizable findings. Component skills did not crossover domains, but text reading was related to text writing.

What explains the relation of reading comprehension to written composition?

First Author/Chair:Young-Suk Grace Kim -- Florida State University and Florida Center for Reading Research

Purpose: The primary goal of the present study is to examine the nature of the relation between reading and writing at the discourse level, that is, reading comprehension and written composition. The research question is ‘does reading experience mediate the relation between reading comprehension and writing?’ Method: Data are drawn from 318 children in Grades 2 (n= 170) and 3 (n=148). Children were assessed on writing, reading comprehension, discourse-level oral language, spelling, handwriting fluency, and reading experience. Writing was assessed by two expository prompts and one narrative prompt; reading comprehension by Woodcock Johnson-III Passage Comprehension and Wechsler Individual Achievement Test Reading Comprehension; Discourse-level oral language by the Test of Narrative Language, and experimental expository texts; Spelling by a dictation task; handwriting fluency by three sentence copying tasks; reading experience by a title recognition task. Coding of writing data is under way and will be completed by early 2016. Data will be analyzed using structural equation modeling in which writing is predicted by spelling, handwriting fluency, oral language, reading comprehension, and reading experience. Results: We hypothesize that reading experience will be independently related to writing after accounting for the other variables in the model. However, it is unknown whether reading experience would completely or partially mediate the relation between reading comprehension and writing. Conclusions: The findings will be important to inform developmental models of writing by explaining the nature of relation between reading comprehension and writing.

Word reading and word spelling in Chinese and English among native and nonnative Chinese- speaking children

First Author/Chair:Catherine McBride -- The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Additional authors/chairs: 
Yanling Zhou; R. Malatesha Joshi; JoAnn Farver

Purpose: We tested word reading and dictation and their correlates in second and third graders who were native (CS; N=29) and non-native Chinese speakers (NCS; N=34) to answer this question: To what extent are word reading and dictation correlated with one another and with behavioral tasks both within and across languages? Method: Children were primarily recruited from after-school Centers (NGOs) where they were tested on Chinese and English literacy as well as cognitive-linguistic behavioral tasks. Results: The correlation between word dictation and word reading was above .8 in each language for both the CS and NCS groups. While correlations between dictation or word reading in English vs. Chinese were significant (r= .5 each) for the NCS group, they were not significant for the CS group. The strongest correlate of both English dictation and word recognition across groups was phonological awareness (PA). For the NCS group, PA was also the strongest correlate of Chinese word reading and dictation. For the CS group, morphological awareness, copying skill, orthographic awareness, visual skill, and even nonverbal IQ were all moderate to strong (all above .5) correlates of both word reading and dictation in Chinese; PA was not. Conclusion: Word reading and word dictation appear to involve substantial overlap within either English or Chinese, but Chinese and English literacy skills may show relatively limited transfer. For CS but not NCS children, morphological, visual, and orthographic tasks are among the strongest correlates of reading in Chinese. Phonological awareness is a strong correlate of literacy skills in English.

How classroom writing matters: Evidence for a relationship to reading achievement

First Author/Chair:David L. Coker -- University of Delaware
Additional authors/chairs: 
Austin S. Jennings; Elizabeth Farley-Ripple; Charles A. MacArthur

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between classroom writing activities and reading performance. We hypothesized that the amount and nature of classroom writing instruction and the amount and type of student writing practice would be related to reading achievement in first grade. Method: To investigate these hypotheses, writing instruction was observed in 50 first-grade classrooms through four, day-long observations across the school year. Observers recorded the focus and duration of writing instruction and the length and nature of student writing. Assessments of reading, writing and oral language were collected in the fall and again in the spring of the school year from a subset of students in each classroom (N = 388). Students were selected based on incoming literacy scores so that a range of student abilities would be represented. Results: Two-level, hierarchical linear models were estimated to predict three reading outcomes: letter-word identification, word attack and reading comprehension. After controlling for student demographics and fall written and oral language achievement, the relationships between writing instruction, writing practice and spring reading achievement were estimated. There were no significant relationships between either the amount or nature of writing instruction and student reading. However, the amount of time students spent writing extended texts was positively related to both letter-word identification and reading comprehension. Conclusions: The results provide further support for the interrelated nature of reading and writing (Shanahan, 2016), and they signal the importance of having young students write extended texts (e.g., Graham & Hebert, 2011).

Discussion of reading-writing connections symposium

First Author/Chair:Discussant R. Malatesha Joshi -- Texas A & M University

While discussing each of the four-presented papers, a case for the need of developing an integrative literacy science will be made. Namely, common and specific components of reading-writing connections will be foregrounded from the symposium contributions. Those components not directly covered in the papers discussed will also be called upon so that a comprehensive map of reading-writing connections can be drawn from the symposium. Such mapping and integration of reading-writing is critical for higher-order conceptualization of literacy skills and its impact on literacy education and literacy achievement.