Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Tom Cavanagh


Scores on a state comprehensive assessment test showed that writing skills of 4th grade students enrolled in a K-8 magnet school in the southeastern part of the United States were below target. The assistant principal of the K-8 magnet school explained that a review of 3-year longitudinal data revealed that the number of students who met proficiency for the 4th grade writing assessment decreased by 1% each year. The purpose of this case study was to gain an understanding from teachers about the best practices on how to improve students' writing skills. Denzin and Lincoln's constructivist theoretical concepts of accommodation and assimilation of learning were the basis of the conceptual framework. The research focused on how 3rd and 4th grade magnet school teachers described best practices to improve their students' writing skills. Data were gathered from three sources: (a) semistructured interviews with 5, 3rd grade and 5, 4th grade literacy teachers, (b) review of 10 lesson plans and 10 students' writing samples, and (c) 10 classroom observations. Based on the findings from the data, the following themes led to the professional development training: (a) oral activities to discuss as a class, (b) group discussions to gather feedback, (c) feedback to monitor progress, and (d) corrections. This professional development training is intended to strengthen the participating teachers' abilities to improve the writing skills of their students. The implications for positive social change is training teachers how to effectively instruct diverse elementary students to communicate effectively in writing.

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