The Missouri Reader Vol. 43, Issue 2 - Page 40


This project was implemented to determine the effects of multisensory experiences on writing proficiency in a first-grade classroom. This action research project was completed in a first-grade classroom as part of the program requirements for teacher interns in the Master of Arts in Teaching program at the University of Arkansas. In planning this project, the mentor teacher, university liaison, and teacher intern reviewed student work samples and assessment results. We determined that the targeted students were not proficient in writing, according to the Lucy Calkins First Grade Writing Rubric. As a result of our analysis, we determined that intervention in the writing was needed. After reviewing relevant research in writing and how using learner preferences in instruction could improve student writing, we determined that an intervention using multisensory experiences may be beneficial for this specific group of first-grade students.

The Action Research Cycle

In carrying out this intervention, the action research process was closely followed: determination of a research question, completion of a pre-assessment, implementation of intervention and formative assessments, completion of a post-assessment, and analysis of results.

Determine the research question. Explicit, ongoing conversations between the university liaison, mentor teacher, and teacher candidate, analysis of student developmental milestones and learning preferences, and relevant research in the area of writing guided the development of the research question: “What are the effects of multisensory experiences on writing proficiency in a first grade classroom?”

Complete the pre-assessment. After the research question was developed, a pre- assessment was completed to determine students’ current writing proficiency in the genres of opinion and informative writing. Students were asked to provide a written response to the teacher prompts which were then evaluated using the Lucy Calkins Rubric for First Grade Writing. The data collected were determined to be appropriate to begin investigating the research question.

Implement intervention and formatively assess. Using the data gathered in the pre- assessment, a nine-week intervention was planned using multisensory strategies to guide students through the writing process, while also pairing writing instruction within the content area of science. Each week, students worked through the writing process and were formatively assessed on their published piece of writing. Additional formative assessments were collected including anecdotal records regarding student understanding, behavior, and attitude.

Complete post-assessment and analyze results. At the conclusion of the intervention, students were asked to provide a written response to the same teacher prompts used in the pre-assessment. This writing was then evaluated using the Lucy Calkins Rubric for First Grade Writing. Results of the pre-assessment and post-assessment were compared to determine if improvement in students’ writing proficiency occurred.

Review of Relevant Literature

Prior to beginning the project, a review of relevant literature was conducted, including research from the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE). A prior research study that had been conducted utilizing a multisensory approach also guided the implementation of this project (Dowburd-Young, 2007). According to the principles of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), writing is a valuable foundational skill and practice. Writing is considered by the NCTE to be “a central tool for learning, thinking, and


MultiSensory Experiences Improve Writing Proficiency


Emily Ward and Denise Mounts