The effects of a planning outline on the written compositions of students with and without learning disabilities

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Higher Education


Lawrence Lewandowski


learning disabilities, curriclua

Subject Categories

Curriculum and Instruction | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Special Education and Teaching


The purpose of the study was to examine the effects of a planning outline upon several aspects of written language: Thematic maturity, macrostructure complexity (number of elements and organization of elements), fluency, and microstructures (e.g., vocabulary, spelling, syntax, and stylistic elements). Fifth and sixth grade students with and without learning disabilities were requested to write two compositions. The first was a baseline narrative. The second incorporated a planning outline which was designed to help the students produce macrostructure elements of the narrative text genre (e.g., setting, initiating event, goal, etc.). The results indicated that students with learning disabilities produced inferior products relative to their nondisabled counterparts in terms of vocabulary, punctuation and capitalization, spelling, syntax, fluency, and thematic maturity across tasks. Both groups made significant improvements in macrostructure complexity (number of macrostructure elements and the organization of macrostructure elements) on intervention versus baseline products. Besides macrostructure improvement, the outline condition fostered improvement across groups in thematic maturity and capitalization and punctuation. The results provide support for macrostructure planning to help students, with and without learning disabilities, write higher quality stories with more complex macrostructure organization.