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Evidence-Based Practices & Resources

Our instructional approach is based on strategy instruction and self-regulation. 

We are also interested in professional and research collaborations. Such collaborations can benefit teachers’ instruction and students’ writing achievement. Further, such collaborations can advance the knowledge of the research community on “what works” in real setting and with real students long-term!

Contact us if you are interested in scheduling a workshop or a series of workshops at your school/college or at your school district.

Researching and Writing
Selected Article Publications
Crowd Applauding

Reading & Writing

Traga Philippakos, Z. A. (Online First, 2021). Guidelines for effective professional development on genre-based strategy instruction: Principals’ voices. Journal of Education. 

The purpose of this qualitative study was to examine principals’ perspectives on a model of professional development (PD) in writing. Participants were 14 principals and seven assistants from a rural district’s K to 12 school system who shared in an interview their challenges and advice for effective PD at a building and district level. Their comments demonstrate the continuous challenges with scale-up efforts and the need for systematic implementation of literacy initiatives. Principals were positive on the PD model and shared guidelines for other leaders’ future implementation of PD on writing. Future research and implications are further discussed.

Lecture Hall Tutor

Reading & Writing

Traga Philippakos, Z. A., & MacArthur, C. A., S. (2021). Examination of genre-based strategy instruction in middle school English Language Arts and science. 94(4), 151-158.


The purpose of the study was to examine the effects of an instructional intervention and its professional development (PD) on the opinion and argumentative writing of middle school students and on teachers’ instructional delivery. The study utilized a design-based methodology and collected qualitative and quantitative data in order to identify revisions needed. Participants were 17 English Language Arts (ELA) and eight science teachers in a rural setting. Students’ writing was assessed in ELA and science (n = 563 and n = 159, respectively) and teachers were interviewed at posttest. Results showed that writing quality improved overall from pretest to posttest (p < 0.001) and teachers found feasible and effective the instructional approach and commented positively on the PD components. Inhibiting factors and revisions from Cycle 1 to Cycle 2 are described while implications for research and practice on PD and curriculum design are further discussed. 

Interested Student

Reading & Writing

Traga Philippakos, Z. A., & Voggt, A. (2021). The effects of a virtual professional development model on teachers’ instruction and the quality of second graders’ procedural writing. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal. 34(1), 1791-1822. 

The purpose of the study was to examine the feasibility and effectiveness of a distant-professional development model that supported the implementation of genre-based strategy instruction for procedural writing on second grade teachers’ fidelity of implementation and students’ writing quality. Participants were 84 s graders and four teachers who were randomly assigned to condition. Teachers completed an online workshop module prior to instruction, a survey on their instruction and confidence to teach writing, received coaching feedback during implementation, and were interviewed at pretest and posttest. Students wrote in response to two procedural topics at pretest and posttest, at maintenance, completed transfer tasks in science and in persuasion, were interviewed at posttest, completed a confidence scale, and standardized measures. Results showed that treatment teachers positively evaluated the PD and its components, taught with high fidelity, and positively commented on the instructional approach. Treatment students wrote papers of better quality at posttest and maintenance tasks, while there were no statistically significant differences at the transfer tasks, on students’ confidence, and on standardized measures. Implications for professional development, practice, and research are further discussed. 

Teacher and Pupil

Reading & Writing

Traga Philippakos, Z. A. (2020). A yearlong, professional development model on genre-based strategy instruction on writing. The Journal of Educational Research. 113(3), 177-190. 

The purpose of the study was to (a) design and examine the effects of a yearlong professional development model on the writing quality of 3rd to 5th graders across genres and on their teachers’ confidence, and (b) to make revisions based on results and teacher’s feedback. Participants were 11 teachers, 273 students, and a principal. The study had a one-year duration, and instruction was based on genre-based strategy instruction for the genres of opinion, story, and compare-contrast. Data were collected across the academic year, and results showed that students’ writing quality improved across genres taught during the academic year while there were no gender differences on performance. Teachers expressed challenges regarding time to teach writing and meet with peers. Further they shared the need to be provided with quality resources and continuous PD. Revisions for Cycle 2 are included and implications for research and practice are further discussed.

Notebook and Pen

Reading & Writing

Philippakos, Z. (2018). Using a task analysis process for reading and writing assignments. Reading Teacher, 72(1), 107–114. doi:10.1002/trtr.1690

Abstract: Proficient writers spend substantial time planning for writing, and that planning begins with analyzing the writing task. They spend time considering the topic, the audience and its needs, and the genre and form of the writing. This rhetorical analysis helps them set goals, orient their attention, and get organized. Task analysis can also help students navigate reading tasks and challenging combined reading–writing tasks. This teaching tip explains a process for critically reading and analyzing writing tasks, as well as combined reading–writing tasks, that can be immediately applied in teachers’ classrooms.

Professor & Students

Genre-Based Professional Development: Grades 3 to 5

Philippakos, Z. A., Overly, M. Riches, C., Grace, L. & Jones, W. (2018). Supporting professional development on writing strategy instruction: Listening to the voices of collaborators as carriers of change. School-University Partnerships.

Abstract: It may be challenging for school systems and teachers to make sense of policy demands or identify effective practices that lead to student success. The purpose of this article is to provide information on a partnership with a school district to support the writing performance of students in grades 3 to 5. The paper discusses the collaboration among participants and the successes and challenges that led to the application of evidence-based practices on writing instruction. The project included work on a writing professional development model that had a year’s duration, addressed multiple genres, connected reading and writing, and involved distance coaching. The voices of the principal, the district’s curriculum coordinator, the literacy coordinator, and the researcher are shared to illustrate their shared commitment to change.

Science and Technology Class

Genre-Based Writing in Science 

Traga Philipakos, Z. A., Williams, L., McLurg, G., Robinson, L., & Munsell, S.  (2019). Writing in Science: Integrating writing Strategy Instruction across the curriculum. Association of Literacy Educators and Researchers Yearbook: Educating for a Just Society. 41(1),  353- 374.

Abstract: The purpose of this study was to examine how systematic writing instruction could be applied in science writing and develop a unit on life sciences that would support stu- dents’ understanding of concepts while supporting their writing skills. This study was based on the principles of design research and presents the results of one cycle of implementation. Participants were one classroom teacher and 23 fourth-grade students. Students wrote persuasive papers at pretest and posttest on controversial topics and were also asked to respond to topic that related to their learning in science (transfer). Results showed that the quality and length of students’ persuasive papers was statistically significantly different at posttest and from pretest to transfer. Students’ ability to draw evidence from graphs to explain their reasoning did not improve. Teacher’s feedback indicated that this is a feasible approach. Revisions from this iteration and implications for future research are discussed.

Teacher and Kids in Library

Genre-Based Writing in the Primary grades

Traga Philippakos, Z. (2019). Effects of strategy instruction with an emphasis on oral language and dramatization on the quality of first graders’ procedural writing. Reading & Writing Quarterly, 35(5), 409-426. DOI: 10.1080/10573569.2018.1547233

Abstract: The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of strategy instruction with an emphasis on oral language and dramatization on the quality of first graders’ procedural papers. Participants were 121 first grade students who attended a rural school and six teachers. Students and teachers were randomly assigned to condition. Instruction lasted for 9 days and professional development and coaching were based on video and online observations. Teachers completed an efficacy questionnaire at the beginning and end of the study and participated in interviews. Twenty students (n = 10 treatment) were also interviewed at posttest. Statistically significant differences were found for writing quality with the treatment group outperforming the control (p <.001). The Professional Development (PD) and coaching via videos were positively perceived by teachers. Implications for future research and limitations are also discussed.

Happy Kids with Books

Genre-Based Writing in the Primary grades

Traga Philippakos, Z. A., & MacArthur, C. A. (in press). Integrating collaborative reasoning and strategy instruction to improve second graders’ opinion writing. Reading & Writing Quarterly.

Abstract: The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of an approach to teaching opinion writing in the primary grades that combined collaborative reasoning with strategy instruction. Four teachers and 80 students were randomly assigned to treatment and control conditions for 10 days of instruction in opinion writing. Students wrote opinion essays at pretest and posttest, participated in interviews, and completed a self-efficacy questionnaire. Teachers completed an efficacy questionnaire and participated in interviews. Analysis found a statistically significant effect of treatment on overall quality of essays. Analysis of elements found that both groups included more reasons and evidence at posttest, but students in the treatment condition included more elements in the introduction and conclusion. No statistically significant differences were found for student or teacher efficacy.

Young Girl Reading

Genre-Based Writing in the Primary grades

Traga Philippakos, Z., Macarthur, C., & Munsell, S. (2018). Collaborative reasoning with strategy instruction for opinion writing in primary grades: Two cycles of design research. Reading & Writing Quarterly, 34(6), 485-504, DOI: 10.1080/10573569.2018.1480438

Abstract: Argumentation is challenging for young learners. We used design research to develop an intervention that was based on principles of dialogic argumentation and strategy instruction and used genre elements to guide planning and evaluation for revision. Instruction included oral discussion of children’s books, written responses to reading, and the writing of argumentative essays. We based professional development (PD) on the principles of practice-based PD. The study included 2 cycles of design research with implementation of PD and the instructional approach. Cycle 1 included kindergarten and 1st grade (7 weeks, 168 students, 10 teachers); Cycle 2 included kindergarten, 1st grade, and 2nd grade (5 weeks, 229 students, 12 teachers). We made improvements to instruction and PD between cycles based on the design research. Pretest–posttest comparisons showed improvements in quality in both cycles and more genre elements in Cycle 2. Teachers responded positively to PD. We discuss limitations and implications for future research.

Kids Playing Treasure Hunt

Genre-Based Writing in the Primary grades

Traga Philippakos, Z. A., Munsell, S. & Robinson, L., (2019). Combining strategy instruction and principles of dialogic pedagogy to support primary-grade students’ story writing: Results from cycle 1 of design research. Literacy Research and Instruction. 58(4), 253-271

Abstract: The purpose of this study was to design and evaluate an instructional approach that combined strategy instruction with principles of dialogic pedagogy to improve the story writing of students in grades K-2 (n = 219). Specifically, drama, dialogic interactions, and oral retellings assisted learners with ideation, while strategies guided their planning and revising. Additionally, the study developed procedures for teachers’ professional development (PD). The study followed the methodological principles of design based research (DRB) and employed a pretest-posttest design for one cycle of implementation that lasted for 30 days. The results showed statistically significant differences on students’ writing quality. Teachers comments were positive for the lessons and the PD. Revisions and implications for practice and future research are further discussed.

Girl at School

Genre-Based Writing in the Primary grades

Traga Philippakos, Z. A., Munsel., S. & Robinson, L. (2018). Supporting primary students’ story writing by including retellings, talk, and drama with strategy instruction. The Language and Literacy Spectrum 1(28), 1-22.

Abstract: Story writing and story grammar have been studied extensively in an effort to improve students’ reading comprehension. Instruction on story structure and on elements of stories can improve the writing quality of students’ papers. This paper explains a process of supporting primary-grade students’ story writing. The approach is based on strategy instruction and incorporates talk and dramatic play as ways to support the development of characters, descriptions of characters and events, and dialogue between characters. Guidelines are provided and step-by-step directions for teachers to use this work with their students.

Doing Homework

Sentence Construction

Traga Philippakos, Z. A. (2019). Sentence construction: Supporting elementary students’ editing skills. Language and Literacy Spectrum. 1(29), 1-23.

Abstract: Syntactic control is a necessary skill for quality writing and a needed knowledge for all writers who communicate in a specific language system. However, syntactic control is challenging for developing writers and for second-language learners. Instructionally, usually at the editing stage, attention is given to the syntax and grammatical clarity of a paper prior to it getting published or shared. The purpose of this paper is to explain specific practices that can support sentence construction. Specifically, evidence-based practices that refer to sentence combining and sentence expansion are explained and specific examples are shared. Implications for classroom practice are further discussed.

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