Instructional Approaches to Improving Students’ Writing of Compare-Contrast Essays: An Experimental Study

Lynne A. Hammann, Robert J. Stevens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Students find compare-contrast writing more difficult than other expository formats (Hiebert, Englert, & Brennan, 1983). Difficulties include problems with acquiring source information, with organizing information into compare-contrast format, or both. This study examined instruction in each area: (a) Summarization Skills supporting acquisition of source information, (b) Compare-Contrast Text Structure supporting organization of information, and (c) Summarization Skills and Text Structure for both processes. Students read two descriptive passages and wrote a compare-contrast essay. Students receiving Text Structure instruction had significantly higher scores on compare-contrast Structure but lower ones on Content than did those in the other groups. Students receiving Summarization Skills instruction had significantly lower scores on Structure than did students in the other groups. Explicit instruction in text structure is recommend for compare-contrast writing, including specific strategy instruction to match learning goals and tasks. Further research is recommended about the interaction of content knowledge and writing strategy knowledge, as well as the role of text structure in reading-writing expository text.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)731-756
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Literacy Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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