The goals of the proposed research are (a) to extend prior work on validating an assessment battery for writing disabilities by investigating the ability of measures in this battery to predict response to treatment; and (b) to validate treatment protocols by showing their effectiveness in preventing or remediating disabilities in specific component writing skills in the primary grades. This research is important because it will help prevent the mental health problems associated with chronic learning problems related to handwriting, spelling, and/or composition, which often arise in early childhood. During each year of this 5-year project, one prevention study in a school setting and one short-term treatment study in a clinic setting will be conducted. A long-term treatment study for children with severe writing disabilities will continue throughout the project. In year 1 the prevention study will compare the effectiveness of components of conventional handwriting instruction and components of handwriting instruction grounded in neurodevelopmental theory. In year 1 the short-term treatment study will compare the effectiveness of grapho- motor responses and computer keyboard responses in learning to spell. In years 2 and 3 both the prevention and short-term treatment studies will compare the effectiveness of teaching spelling based on single orthographic-phonological correspondences (whole written-whole spoken word, letterphoneme, or letter cluster-syllable/rimes) and different combinations of these single approaches. In years 4 and 5 the prevention study will compare the effectiveness of training low-level handwriting and spelling skills, training high-level cognitive processes in writing, or training both low-level and high-level skills on composition growth. In years 4 and 5 the short-term treatment studies will explore the effectiveness of various approaches to teaching planning and revising skills, respectively. Experiments, across years, are designed so that the effects of one-, two-, and three- component treatments can be compared. The goal of the long-term treatment study (years 1 through 5) is to show that severely writing disabled children can be brought up to grade level with intensive, systematic, and individualized theory-based treatment. Results of all studies will be evaluated using state-of-the-art multi- level techniques (at the individual and group level) and growth curve analysis.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Human Development and Aging Subcommittee 3 (HUD)
Program Officer
Lyon, Reid G
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
University of Washington
Schools of Education
United States
Zip Code
Alston-Abel, Nicole Lynn; Berninger, Virginia (2018) Relationships between Home Literacy Practices and School Achievement: Implications for Consultation and Home-School Collaboration. J Educ Psychol Consult 28:164-189
Jones, Jasmin Niedo; Berninger, Virginia Wise (2016) Strategies Typically Developing Writers Use for Translating Thought into the Next Sentence and Evolving Text: Implications for Assessment and Instruction. Open J Mod Linguist 6:276-292
Abbott, Robert D; Fayol, Michel; Zorman, Michel et al. (2016) Relationships of French and English Morphophonemic Orthographies to Word Reading, Spelling, and Reading Comprehension during Early and Middle Childhood. Can J Sch Psychol 31:305-321
Davidson, Matt; Berninger, Virginia (2016) Informative, Compare and Contrast, and Persuasive Essay Composing of Fifth and Seventh Graders: Not All Essay Writing Is the Same. J Psychoeduc Assess 34:311-321
Alstad, Zachary; Sanders, Elizabeth; Abbott, Robert D et al. (2015) Modes of Alphabet Letter Production during Middle Childhood and Adolescence: Interrelationships with Each Other and Other Writing Skills. J Writ Res 6:199-231
Del Campo, Roxana; Buchanan, William R; Abbott, Robert D et al. (2015) Levels of Phonology Related to Reading and Writing in Middle Childhood. Read Writ 28:183-198
Jones, Jasmin Niedo; Abbott, Robert D; Berninger, Virginia W (2014) Predicting Levels of Reading and Writing Achievement in Typically Developing, English-Speaking 2(nd) and 5(th) Graders. Learn Individ Differ 32:54-68
Berninger, Virginia W; Lee, Yen-Ling; Abbott, Robert D et al. (2013) Teaching children with dyslexia to spell in a reading-writers' workshop. Ann Dyslexia 63:1-24
Graham, Steve; Berninger, Virginia; Abbott, Robert (2012) Are Attitudes Toward Writing and Reading Separable Constructs? A Study With Primary Grade Children. Read Writ Q 28:51-69
Berninger, Virginia W; Nagy, William; Beers, Scott (2011) Child writers' construction and reconstruction of single sentences and construction of multi-sentence texts: contributions of syntax and transcription to translation. Read Writ 24:151-182

Showing the most recent 10 out of 20 publications