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Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Learning Handicapped

First Advisor

Rober MacMillian

First Committee Member

Ennio Cipani

Second Committee Member

Hugh McBride

Third Committee Member

Dennis Brennan

Fourth Committee Member

Mari Irvin


The purpose of this empirical study was to examine the effects of sentence combining on paragraphs written by students diagnosed as having serious emotional disturbances by the State of California. Sentence combining is one writing process technique frequently found in mainstream education, but not in typical special education writing curricula. The study examined the effects of sentence combining during three experimental conditions: (1) a baseline condition comprised of examiner-determined writing samples elicited by subjects prior to the intervention; (2) a treatment condition which consisted of the sentence combining intervention itself; (3) a follow-up condition implemented two weeks after each subject had completed the treatment. Each subject was also pretested and posttested on a formal standardized measure. The design of this study was a within subject analysis employing a multiple baseline across subjects design. The sample of this study consisted of three male adolescents, residing in a 24 hour residential facility with an educational component. Each subject was required to compose a daily, examiner-determined writing sample which was scored by one of two previously trained raters. An eight element, examiner made rubric, consisting of specific writing skills served as the dependent measure. Findings varied among the three subjects. Subject A's standardized posttest results did not appear to be effected by the treatment. However, results on the eight element writing rubric supported two postulates of the writing process: (1) grammatical rules of punctuation and capitalization improve as one becomes more fluent in writing, (2) one becomes more fluent in writing if one writes frequently. Having been exposed to only special education writing curriculum for the majority of his school years, Subject B's results indicated that the treatment design significantly impacted his written expression skills as measured by both the standardized testing instrument and the informal testing instrument. Subject C did not show significant gains in his standardized posttest results. However, he did show remarkable growth on the informal evaluative measure. The results of this study lend themselves to three implications for teaching writing to this particular population: (1) adopt regular education's core curricular teaching techniques; (2) write daily; and (3) conduct further studies that merge quantitative and qualitative research methods.



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