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The Grammar and Writing Research Project

A mixed-methods research project in collaboration with the UCL Survey of English Usage to assess whether 'Englicious', a new approach to teaching grammar, has benefits for children’s writing at KS 1.

Grammar has a much greater emphasis in the 2014 National Curriculum for England than in previous national curricula, and knowledge of grammar is assessed and tested in schools at Key Stages 1 and 2.

Englicious is a web-based platform that was developed at UCL and is informed by cutting-edge linguistics. It advocates an innovative, interactive, game-based approach to grammar teaching.

As of November 2019, over 8,000 teachers signed up to use the platform.

Team

Professor Bas Aarts, UCL Department of English Language and Literature
Dr Jake Anders, UCL Institute of Education
Ian Cushing, UCL Department of English Language and Literature
Professor Julie Dockrell, UCL Institute of Education
Dr Yana Manyukhina, UCL Institute of Education
Dr Sue Sing, UCL Institute of Education
Professor Carole Torgerson, University of Durham
Professor Dominic Wyse, UCL Institute of Education 

Aims

The aims of the project are:

  • to contribute to the knowledge base in relation to the ways in which the teaching of grammar impacts on pupils’ writing
  • to support teachers in relation to the teaching of writing required by the National Curriculum in England
  • to bring new evidence to the attention of policy makers who are responsible for the teaching of English, and specifically grammar, in the National Curriculum.

The outcomes will also be of interest to other countries, where English is the dominant language in schools, because the teaching of grammar is included as part of most national curricula for primary schools.  

    Research questions
    • To what extent is the web-based 'Englicious' Intervention (EI) effective in improving pupils’ writing?
    • What are the main implications for teacher practice as a result of implementing EI and, more generally, for evidence-informed teaching of writing?
    • In what ways do the outcomes of the research have implications for the teaching of writing in the National Curriculum for primary schools in England?
    Methods

    The 'Englicious' approach is being evaluated by using the mixed methods design of Randomised Controlled Trial (RCT) and qualitative process evaluation.

    60 Year 2 teachers will be allocated at random to two groups:

    1. The 'Englicious' Intervention (EI) will be trained to use 'Englicious' in lessons
    2. The 'business as usual’ group will receive their normal writing lessons and not receive additional training until project completion. 

    Children’s writing will be assessed using a standardised test and a bespoke sentence construction measure: 

    • pre-randomisation, and
    • at the end of the school year, after the treatment group has received the EI intervention. 
    Outputs