Grammar for Writing? An investigation into the effect of Contextualised Grammar Teaching on Student Writing
Jones, Susan M.
Bailey, Trevor C.
Reading and Writing
The role of grammar instruction in the teaching of writing is contested in most Anglophone countries, with several robust meta-analyses finding no evidence of any beneficial effect. However, existing research is limited in that it only considers isolated grammar instruction and offers no theorisation of an instructional relationship between grammar and writing. This study, drawing on a theorised understanding of grammar as a meaning-making resource for writing development, set out to investigate the impact of contextualised grammar instruction on students’ writing performance. The study adopted a mixed-methods approach, with a randomised controlled trial and a complementary qualitative study. The statistical analyses indicate a positive effect on writing performance for the intervention group (e = 0.21; p<0.001); but the study also indicates that the intervention impact differentially on different sub-groups, benefiting able writers more than weaker writers. The study is significant in being the first to supply rigorous, theorised evidence for the potential benefits of teaching grammar to support development in writing.