Skip to main content


Metatalk for Writing

1 January 2020 - 31 December 2022

PI/s in Exeter: Dr Ruth Newman

Research partners: Jan Lane - Graduate Research Assistant

Funding awarded: £ 304,778

Sponsor(s): Economic and Social Research Council

Project webpage(s)

Metatalk for Writing

About the research

This 3 year study will investigate the impact of high quality classroom talk on children’s writing. A particularly demanding activity, writing involves making deliberate choices according to audience, purpose, and rhetorical effect. Although research suggests that metalinguistic understanding (knowledge about language) underlies writing competency, because it helps writers to control and craft their writing, very little is known about how it is developed. This study will build on research (Myhill and Newman 2016) which suggests that metatalk (talk about writing) may be important for the development of metalinguistic understanding. While there is extensive evidence that high quality classroom talk supports learning, very little research has examined the impact of talk on writing specifically. In an educational context of persistent underachievement in writing (NCW, 2003; Dugdale & Clark, 2008; BIS, 2016), this study aims to make an important theoretical contribution which impacts teacher practice and educational outcomes, specifically student attainment in writing.

Economic and Social Research Council