Document Type



Exceptional Student Education

First Advisor's Name

Patricia M. Barbetta

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Elizabeth Cramer

Third Advisor's Name

Adrian McEachern

Fourth Advisor's Name

Linda Spears-Bunton


concept maps, writing, specific learning disabilities, graphic organizers, Hispanics

Date of Defense



Many culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) students with specific learning disabilities (SLD) struggle with the writing process. Particularly, they have difficulties developing and expanding ideas, organizing and elaborating sentences, and revising and editing their compositions (Graham, Harris, & Larsen, 2001; Myles, 2002). Computer graphic organizers offer a possible solution to assist them in their writing. This study investigated the effects of a computer graphic organizer on the persuasive writing compositions of Hispanic middle school students with SLD. A multiple baseline design across subjects was used to examine its effects on six dependent variables: number of arguments and supporting details, number and percentage of transferred arguments and supporting details, planning time, writing fluency, syntactical maturity (measured by T-units, the shortest grammatical sentence without fragments), and overall organization. Data were collected and analyzed throughout baseline and intervention. Participants were taught persuasive writing and the writing process prior to baseline. During baseline, participants were given a prompt and asked to use paper and pencil to plan their compositions. A computer was used for typing and editing. Intervention required participants to use a computer graphic organizer for planning and then a computer for typing and editing. The planning sheets and written composition were printed and analyzed daily along with the time each participant spent on planning. The use of computer graphic organizers had a positive effect on the planning and persuasive writing compositions. Increases were noted in the number of supporting details planned, percentage of supporting details transferred, planning time, writing fluency, syntactical maturity in number of T-units, and overall organization of the composition. Minimal to negligible increases were noted in the mean number of arguments planned and written. Varying effects were noted in the percent of transferred arguments and there was a decrease in the T-unit mean length. This study extends the limited literature on the effects of computer graphic organizers as a prewriting strategy for Hispanic students with SLD. In order to fully gauge the potential of this intervention, future research should investigate the use of different features of computer graphic organizer programs, its effects with other writing genres, and different populations.





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