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Helping Students Soar to Success on Synthesis Writing

Linlin Luo, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Synthesis writing is a common requirement in secondary schools and colleges, but it is often done ineffectively because students fail to engage the critical processes of selecting, organizing, and connecting information, which are the crux of synthesis writing. Therefore, it is imperative to teach students synthesis writing strategies. The present study investigated a strategy system, SOAR, for synthesis writing. SOAR is an acronym for the system’s four integrated components: Select, Organize, Associate, and Regulate. SOAR had proven effective for improving instruction and learning but has not been tested for writing. Two experiments were conducted to examine SOAR’s impact on synthesis writing. Experiment 1 investigated the efficacy of SOAR-provided instructional materials. Thirty-two college students studied four texts about creativity alone or with SOAR supplements in preparation for writing a synthesis essay that compared the four types of creativity. SOAR-aided students produced significantly more complete essays (select), better categorically organized essays (organize), and essays containing more intertextual connections (connect) than non SOAR-aided students. Experiment 2 investigated the trainability of SOAR and the effect of student-generated SOAR materials on synthesis writing. One hundred eighteen students first completed a baseline synthesis writing task. Next, they either received SOAR training or did not receive SOAR training, instead practicing their preferred strategies. Finally, they performed another synthesis writing task. SOAR training was effective: SOAR-trained students produced more complete and better organized essays than non SOAR-trained students after training. The findings’ practical implications and underlying cognitive mechanisms are discussed, along with study limitations future research directions.

Subject Area

Language arts|Educational psychology|Higher education

Recommended Citation

Luo, Linlin, "Helping Students Soar to Success on Synthesis Writing" (2018). ETD collection for University of Nebraska-Lincoln. AAI10748131.