DS0804 -

Writing skills and difficulties with pupils at the beginning of junior school – ECRICOL

Submission summary

In France, first-year junior school pupils have, in writing as in other subjects, an inconsistent level. Among other things, this inconsistency is linked to the sociological evolution of schools, resulting in particular from democratization, migration patterns and the implementation of a ‘single school’, but also to each pupil’s singular and complex approach to writing. In this context, underprivileged pupils have greater difficulties, leading to a negative impact on their academic success since writing is instrumental in the building and structuring of knowledge for all disciplines. Research carried out on the origin of the scriptural and educational deficit of underprivileged pupils dwells on contextual factors related to the professional status of parents, their level of schooling and the schools they attended, and to languages spoken at home and at school. While contextual factors affect school performance, we cannot identify the pupils’ real needs in terms of learning by taking into account these factors alone. Yet, we are unable to propose appropriate didactical interventions to challenge these difficulties, develop the writing skills of learners and guide them to academic success without knowing precisely what exists and what is missing.
Falling within the field of French didactics and didactics of sciences, this research sets out to conduct, from a qualitative perspective, the fullest possible comprehensive assessment of the writing skills and difficulties of first-year junior school pupils, and to determine whether they are linked to social origin or cognitive skills and whether they might vary according to discipline. Led by a multidisciplinary research team composed of teachers-researchers and professionals, this research will be conducted in classes located in socially contrasting areas in French and in sciences. Based on works carried out in several disciplines (psycholinguistics, cognitive psychology, textual genetics, etc.) for which writing is a process and allows the observation of acquisitions under construction – within the confines of each discipline, of course – the experimental mechanisms to be implemented in this project will foster re-writing and alternate writing, reading and return on produced texts. The corpus of analysis will contain texts produced by pupils as well as data taken from recordings of sessions, interviews with pupils and teachers, questionnaires for pupils and pupils’ administrative files.
This research will result in a methodology allowing, both from a scientific and a schooling point of view, identification of first-year junior school pupils’ difficulties and skills in writing. This clear identification will pave the way to the development of tools and devices adjusted to the real needs of learners and therefore help to raise the academic success of pupils and ensure better future socio-professional integration. The results of this research will be promoted through several scientific events (workshops, research seminars, conferences, collective works, papers, etc.), the developement of teaching tools and the introduction of continuing education courses.
As the issue tackled in this project concerns several OECD countries and is undoubtedly an urgent social matter, this research will be a first step towards a wider international project on the role of writing in academic success and socio-professional integration.

Project coordination

Maurice Niwese (Ecole supérieure du professorat et de l'éducation de l'Académie de Bordeaux)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


U-BORDEAUX ESPE Académie Bordeaux Ecole supérieure du professorat et de l'éducation de l'Académie de Bordeaux

Help of the ANR 57,999 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: - 36 Months

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