Date of Award


Degree Name

EdD Doctor of Education

Dissertation Committee

Barbara Moss, PhD; Pamela Ross, PhD; Donna Barnes, PhD


attitudes, children & youth, education, elementary schools, fourth grade students, free/reduced lunch, language conventions, mentor text inquiry approach, multiple case study, narrative writing instruction, public charter school, self-efficacy, urban, word count, writing processes


Writing in its many forms, is the signature means of communication in the 21st century. Writing is also arguably the most complex and difficult challenge facing all students in school. The purpose of this study was to monitor the narrative writing performance of urban students who received explicit writing instruction using a mentor text inquiry approach. A mentor text is a published piece of writing whose ideas, structure,or written craft can be used to inspire a student to write something original. It is a piece of quality literature text that students can use as an exemplar text to model their own attempts for writing. This study explored the development of writing skills of an intact class of fourth grade students (n = 35) in order to assess the impact of using a mentor text inquiry approach on the acquisition of narrative writing abilities. A multiple case study design was used to examine individual student writing attitudes, self-efficacy beliefs, and writing abilities for six students over a 6-week period in an urban public charter school in southern California serving a population comprised of 50.5% African American, 25% Hispanic, 22.3% White, 2.2% Asian, and 0.5% American Indian/Alaska Native students, with 76% qualifying for free/reduced lunch as defined by the National School Lunch Program. The students' pre- and post-assessments for writing attitude surveys, self-efficacy beliefs, and formative and summative essays were compared, and a detailed narrative of the mentor text approach reported. An analysis of the impact of a mentor text inquiry approach to narrative writing instruction on writers below, at, and above grade level, was provided. Findings indicated that on the surveys for both writing attitude and self-efficacy, all six participants improved from pre- to post-assessments. Fluency, as measured by word count, increased for all six participants. Most students improved in the areas of language conventions and organization. The quality of content, including measures of figurative language, description, and dialogue, did not improve during the 6-week treatment period.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access