Australia’s national education evidence body

Writing and writing instruction

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30 minute read

This publication summarises available evidence on writing and writing instruction. While the literature on writing instruction is modest compared with reading, and the quality of the research is variable, there are a number of findings and recommendations that can be drawn.

Overall findings and recommendations

  • Improve Initial Teacher Education in the writing domain by specifying the content and pedagogical knowledge to be taught, ensuring adequate time is dedicated to delivering units on writing and writing instruction, and building time and quality metrics into accreditation policy and processes to ensure consistency across providers
  • Improve access to high quality and systematic professional learning options for school leaders and teachers in the writing domain
  • Increase the amount of time students spend writing (composing) and receiving writing instruction (at least one hour per day)
  • Ensure writing instruction is a priority across all years of primary and secondary schooling
  • Review the instructional quality and opportunities for boys and girls, and seek to close the writing achievement gap
  • Use effective instructional techniques consistently and frequently
  • Ensure adequate foundational instruction in handwriting and spelling
  • Ensure adequate sentence-level writing instruction across the primary and secondary years
  • Embed grammar and punctuation instruction in meaningful writing tasks
  • Ensure adequate strategy instruction in planning, drafting, evaluating and revising
  • Explicitly teach genre macrostructure and microstructure through modelling, guided practice and exemplars, providing subject specific instruction as required
  • Ensure adequate attention to informational and persuasive writing, alongside narrative writing
  • Ensure students write frequently for a range of meaningful audiences and purposes
  • Build knowledge for writing such as rich content knowledge, knowledge of linguistic and rhetorical features, and vocabulary
  • Integrate instruction across the curriculum by using writing to support reading and learning
  • Consider using validated writing programs, noting that one approach or program alone does not cover all aspects of writing instruction or constitute a curriculum
  • Embed frequent formative assessment and provide explicit feedback to move students forward
  • Align writing goals, curriculum, instructional methods and assessment practices
  • Teach typing skills and provide students with opportunities to compose using digital writing tools
  • Create motivating and supporting writing environments where writing is valued, routine and collaborative
  • Provide additional scaffolding and instruction for students with learning difficulties and disabilities

AERO writing resources

AERO has published several practical writing resources to complement this literature review, with more to follow soon. 

Sentence combining practice guide  Writing instruction framework – primary

Publication date
4 February 2022
Last updated
18 October 2022
McLean E and Griffiths K
Australian Education Research Organisation
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