Julie Dockrell (FRCSLT, FAcSS) is Professor of Psychology and Special Needs at the UCL, Institute of Education and qualified as both a clinical and educational psychologist. Her research interests are in patterns of language development and the ways in which oral language skills impact on children's learning, interaction, and attainments. A central theme in this research has been the application of evidence-based research to support children’s learning. She has published in a wide range of journals and written books and book chapters on language development and language difficulties. She was the previous editor of the British Journal of Educational Psychology, associate editor for JSLHR and Learning and Instruction. She was a co-director of the Better Communication Research Programme, UK. She is currently PI on a Nuffield funded research programme examining universal language support for nursery aged children in areas of social disadvantage and Co-I for the Education and Cognition stream for UKRI- GCRF Action against stunting hub.
The aim of this session is to present a critical overview of the tools which can capture writing across the elementary school years and consider recommendations for research and practice considered. The assessment of children’s writing raises technical and practical challenges. Various approaches to evaluation of written composition have been used by researchers and teachers, including holistic scoring, analytic scoring, quantitative scoring, and curriculum-based measurement measures. These various evaluation approaches differ in purposes and in the underlying assumptions about the dimensionality of written composition.
Indeed, the number of dimensions which are thought to underpin written text production have also been a matter of debate. Earlier studies of composition identified two dimensions in written texts: quality and productivity. Productivity was typically evaluated by the numbers of words or different words produced. Arguably assessments of pupil’s written text should capture these dimensions without placing undue demands on staff training and time, but much depends on the child’s age and their competency in producing written text. Young children or struggling writers, for example, often produce too little text to reliably capture different dimensions.