Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Rachel S. Pienta


Only 1% of students scored in the exceeding range on the Eighth Grade Writing Assessment in a rural Southeastern school district. The purpose of this program evaluation was to explore the effectiveness of the Document-Based Question (DBQ) project in improving student writing. Using interview protocols, work artifacts, and archival student data, a decision-based program evaluation of the DBQ project was conducted using the CIPP model. Administrators and teachers from elementary and middle schools who attended district DBQ project training were invited to participate in this study. One elementary and 1 middle school administrator, 5 elementary teachers, and 7 middle school teachers were selected to participate to create a balanced representation across grade levels. Using the Coding Analysis Toolkit (CAT), interview responses about context, input, process, and product evaluation were analyzed. Analysis of patterns in the data identified 10 strengths and 10 opportunities for improvement of the DBQ project, and led to 6 suggested recommendations to create a more customized fit for its implementation in the school system under study. Overall, it was determined that the DBQ project is an effective program for improving student-constructed responses in writing; it was also determined that expository writing skills of students in Grades 3 through 8 can be improved with explicit instruction in thesis development and text citation supporting ideas. Impacts on social change include students' improvements in formulation, justification, and communication of opinions and the ability to revise positions or demonstrate tolerance for ideas opposing their own. School officials and teachers will benefit from the study results as they continue seeking and refining ways to improve student writing through the use of the DBQ project.

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