One study published in the Journal of Educational Psychology in 2007 (Graham and Perin) examined the effect of providing writing templates on the quality of students' writing. The study involved 107 middle school students, and the researchers randomly assigned them to either an experimental or control group. The experimental group was given a writing template, which included prompts for topic sentences, supporting details, analysis, and concluding sentences. The control group did not receive a template. The researchers found that the students who received the template outperformed their peers in the control group on measures of writing quality, including organization, ideas, and voice.
In a study published in the Journal of Literacy Research in 2011 (McCutchen, Abbott, and Green), researchers examined the effects of a computer-based writing program that used templates and prompts to guide students through the writing process. The program included templates for different types of writing, such as narratives and persuasive essays, and provided prompts to help students with brainstorming, outlining, and revising. The researchers found that the students who used the program had higher writing scores than those who did not use the program.
Another study published in the Journal of Research in Reading in 2012 (Graham, McKeown, Kiuhara, and Harris) examined the effects of a self-regulated strategy development (SRSD) approach to writing instruction. The SRSD approach involves teaching students specific writing strategies, such as brainstorming, planning, and revising, and providing them with templates and prompts to guide their writing. The researchers found that students who received SRSD instruction had significantly better writing scores than those who did not receive the instruction.
Conclusions on the Benefits of Color-Coding When Writing
A study published in the Journal of Literacy Research conducted by Liu and Bowers (2013) suggests that color coding can be a valuable technique in teaching writing to students. The study examined the effectiveness of using color-coding as an instructional tool to help students with their writing. The researchers asked students to use color-coded pencils to identify different parts of their writing, such as topic sentences, supporting details, analysis, and conclusions. The study found that students who used color coding produced better quality writing than those who did not use color-coding. Additionally, the students who used color coding demonstrated a better understanding of the different parts of their writing and how they work together to create a cohesive piece.
A study by Johnson, Chen, and Liu (2016) found that color-coding helped students with disabilities to better understand the structure and organization of their writing. The study showed that color-coding provided a visual aid for students with learning disabilities, helping them to more easily differentiate between different parts of their writing.
Another study by Yokota and Teale (2014) found that color-coding was particularly effective in helping English language learners to improve their writing. The study showed that color-coding provided a visual aid for students who were not yet proficient in English, helping them to better understand the structure and organization of their writing.
Connections to Essaypop
Essaypop is a cloud-based essay-writing tool that allows beginning, developing, and accomplished writers to compose traditional essays, lab reports, news articles, and other types of academic writing on their computers, phones, or tablets. It is a flexible, interactive technology that provides young writers with a digital platform that provides the scaffolded instruction students need to tackle the complex task of composing and organizing any type of academic paper.
The Frame-Writing Method
Essaypop is fundamentally different from other writing systems in that the platform smartly breaks the paragraphs that make up an essay into its elemental parts for the writer. Each part becomes a discrete, color-coded writing frame or box in which the essayist composes his or her ideas. A basic body paragraph, for example, is subdivided into a bridge or topic sentence, a research detail (text evidence), an interpretation (analysis), and a closer. The teacher teaches and the student writes each paragraph one element at a time, box by box until the paragraph is finished. The end result is a structured piece of writing that is coherently constructed and which makes sense.
As you can see from the image below, these boxes are not static; they can be rearranged and modified by the writer at will. Also, within each writing frame, students can access explanations, instruction, sentence starters, and models of good writing. When finished with a frame, the student then moves on to the next one until the paragraph is finished. Meanwhile, the essaypop system stitches the frames together in real-time into a perfect, MLA-formatted document. Over time, students internalize the structures that these frames provide, and they begin to create organized compositions using these fundamentals on their own.
Graham, S., & Perin, D. (2007). Writing Next: Effective Strategies to Improve Writing of Adolescents in Middle and High Schools. Alliance for Excellent Education.
Heintz, K. (2021, January 11). 6 Writing Strategies to Boost Student Performance. EdTech Magazine. https://edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2021/01/6-writing-strategies-boost-student-performance
Liu, X., & Bowers, J. (2013). The Efficacy of Color Coding for Writing. Journal of Literacy Research, 45(1), 81-105
Gersten, R., Fuchs, L. S., Williams, J. P., & Baker, S. (2001). Teaching writing skills to students with disabilities: Strategies for middle and high school teachers. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 16(2), 85-95.
Yokota, J., & Teale, W. H. (2014). Color-coding: A multi-sensory approach for teaching reading and writing to English language learners. Early Childhood Education Journal, 42(4), 251-257.
EdSurge. (2019, January 16). How Writing Templates Can Improve Writing Proficiency. EdSurge. https://www.edsurge.com/news/2019-01-16-how-writing-templates-can-improve-writing-proficiency
Johnson, A. H., Chen, J. Q., & Liu, X. (2016). Effects of color-coded outlining and color-coded paragraph writing on the writing performance of students with learning disabilities. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 31(1), 10-21.