writing, written expression, graphic organizers, special education, exceptional education, secondary education


ABSTRACT We know that many students with learning disabilities struggle throughout their school years with the writing process. High school is no exception. Writing is a life skill that can directly impact the quality of life for older students preparing to graduate and progress to college, a career, or simply the world of work. A need in society exists to improve the writing of all students including those who are on the threshold of high school graduation. Students with learning disabilities enter their ninth year of school with a performance gap of 4 to 5 years placing their equivalent learning in the late elementary years. Few studies however have investigated the impact of explicit written expression strategy instruction for students with mild disabilities in high school. Thus, expanding the knowledge base for this group of students becomes especially critical. The present study examines the effects of explicitly teaching a writing strategy to high school students with learning disabilities. A multiple baseline design across subjects was used to observe changes in student writing. A total of 11 students in three subject groups participated in the study. Eleventh grade students in three learning strategies classes were pretested to determine the level of their organizational skills for written products. Scoring criteria were described to students using a written expression rubric to provide them with the specific expectations for their daily writing. Mind-mapping, an organizational strategy for writing, was explicitly taught to each of three classes during their daily learning strategy period. Data were collected relative to the students' rubric scores and visually inspected for changes in writing performance before, during, and following the strategy instruction. Pre- and post-tests were administered to the student groups. Following data collection and the post-test, interviews were conducted with the teacher and each of the participants. Findings indicate that the mind-mapping intervention had limited success in improving students' written products when measured by the multiple baseline across subjects design. Pre- and post-test data, however, show that writing quality certainly did improve. The participants' teacher specifically noted during her interview that, in her perception, improvements in student writing as a result of using the mind-mapping strategy did occur. The teacher also felt strongly enough about the efficacy of the mind-mapping intervention that she plans to teach the strategy to her future students. Most of the students reported during their interviews that they felt that learning mind-mapping helped them to become better writers. The vast majority of students also stated that they planned to use the strategy for tests and writing assignments.


If this is your thesis or dissertation, and want to learn how to access it or for more information about readership statistics, contact us at

Graduation Date





Wienke, Wilfred


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Education


Child, Family, and Community Sciences

Degree Program









Release Date

September 2007

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)

Included in

Education Commons