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Teaching narrative writing with digital resources and apps

1 August 2022 - 1 July 2024

PI/s in Exeter: Dr Clare Dowdall

CI/s in Exeter: Dr Judith Kleine-Staarman

Research partners: Assan Ali

Funding awarded: £ 8,497

Sponsor(s): British Academy/ Leverhulme Small Research Grant

About the research

This research will investigate the potential for digital resources and apps to promote children’s narrative writing, and contribute to children's engagement and enjoyment within a targeted unit of work, where the outcome is a written narrative that aligns with National Curriculum expectations for competence in transcription and composition. National school data indicates significant gaps between girls’ and boys’ attainment in writing, and marked under-attainment for those labelled ‘disadvantaged’. The most recent National Literacy Trust Survey records the lowest ever level of writing enjoyment amongst all learners, but particularly amongst boys with low socio-economic status. Using survey data and three participatory ‘telling case’ studies, this research will investigate how digital resources and apps can support the narrative writing process and promote enjoyment and engagement amongst all pupils, within national accountability measures. Based on this, recommendations for writing pedagogy involving digital resources and apps will be made.

In this study, we will investigate how digital resources are used by three teachers, to develop children’s narrative writing. Working collaboratively with teachers, we aim to identify and share best practice, and develop pedagogy for writing that involves digital resources. We also seek to investigate how the introduction of digital resources into units of work that align with the National Curriculum Programmes of Study (PoS) for writing contributes to children’s engagement with, and enjoyment of, narrative writing.

Research Objectives

1. To survey up to 100 primary school teachers to identify the principles informing their narrative writing pedagogy, and to identify the digital resources they are familiar with or use in their professional work to support children’s narrative writing. You can access the survey here. (December 2022 - January 2023).

2. To organise and lead a collaborative planning workshop with 3 primary school teachers and their Teaching Assistants to explore how children’s narrative writing development can be supported, using digital resources.

3. To construct 3 ‘Telling Case’ studies that describe how the introduction of digital resources impacts the participants’ pedagogy and their children’s narrative writing.

4. To develop and share best practice and pedagogic principles for developing children’s narrative writing using digital resources and apps within the Exeter Partner Research Community and Exeter ITE Partnership members.

5. To disseminate findings nationally and internationally amongst literacy educators, researchers and policy makers, to contribute to the scholarship on writing pedagogy in evolving digital contexts.