Document Type



Doctor of Education (EdD)


Exceptional Student Education

First Advisor's Name

Patricia Barbetta

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Elizabeth Cramer

Third Advisor's Name

Diana Valle-Riestra

Fourth Advisor's Name

Linda Spears-Bunton

Fifth Advisor's Name

Kyle Bennett


Specific Learning Disabilities, Graphic Organizers, Writing

Date of Defense



Writing is an academic skill critical to students in today’s schools as it serves as a predominant means for demonstrating knowledge during school years (Graham, 2008). However, for many students with Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD), learning to write is a challenging, complex process (Lane, Graham, Harris, & Weisenbach, 2006). Students SLD have substantial writing challenges related to the nature of their disability (Mayes & Calhoun, 2005).

This study investigated the effects of computer graphic organizer software on the narrative writing compositions of four, fourth- and fifth-grade, elementary-level boys with SLD. A multiple baseline design across subjects was used to explore the effects of the computer graphic organizer software on four dependent variables: total number of words, total planning time, number of common story elements, and overall organization.

Prior to baseline, participants were taught the fundamentals of narrative writing. Throughout baseline and intervention, participants were read a narrative writing prompt and were allowed up to 10 minutes to plan their writing, followed by 15 minutes for writing, and 5 minutes of editing. During baseline, all planning was done using paper and pencil. During intervention, planning was done on the computer using a graphic organizer developed from the software program Kidspiration 3.0 (2011). All compositions were written and editing was done using paper and pencil during baseline and intervention.

The results of this study indicated that to varying degrees computer graphic organizers had a positive effect on the narrative writing abilities of elementary aged students with SLD. Participants wrote more words (from 54.74 to 96.60 more), planned for longer periods of time (from 4.50 to 9.50 more minutes), and included more story elements in their compositions (from 2.00 to 5.10 more out of a possible 6). There were nominal to no improvements in overall organization across the 4 participants.

The results suggest that teachers of students with SLD should considering use computer graphic organizers in their narrative writing instruction, perhaps in conjunction with remedial writing strategies. Future investigations can include other types of writing genres, other stages of writing, participants with varied demographics and their use combined with remedial writing instruction.





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