IPEELL: using self-regulation to improve writing (re-grant)
This page covers the second (effectiveness) trial - which tested a scalable model of IPEELL under everyday conditions in a large number of schools. To read about the first (efficacy trial) - testing whether the programme could work in schools under best possible conditions - click here.
‘Self-Regulated Strategy Development’ (SRSD) aims to develop writing skills by helping pupils to plan, monitor and evaluate their writing. SRSD has delivered consistently positive results in trials in North America.
Testing a scalable model of a programme that uses ‘Self-Regulated Strategy Development' and memorable experiences to improve pupils’ writing
Durham University, The York Trials Unit
Feedback & monitoring pupil progress
Language and literacy
In 2012 the EEF funded a small study of the ‘IPEELL’ SRSD programme, for pupils making the transition from primary to secondary school. Year 6 and 7 pupils were given writing projects based on memorable experiences such as school trips. The IPEELL programme developers trained some teachers to use an SRSD approach to deliver these writing projects. Pupils whose teachers received the training were compared with pupils whose teachers did not.
The SRSD pupils made around 9 months’ additional progress in writing. Given the large impact and the strong prior evidence for SRSD, EEF funded a second trial of IPEELL, this time using a ‘scalable’ model that could reach more schools, without direct involvement from the developers in the teacher training.
In this second project, pupils using IPEELL for 2 years did make a small amount of additional progress compared to other pupils, but those using it for only one year appeared to make less progress. In addition, two years of IPEELL appears to have had a negative impact on maths and reading outcomes, possibly due to curriculum time being diverted towards writing.
There were some important differences between the two versions of IPEELL which might explain the different results. In particular, the ‘scalable’ model used teacher trainers who had never seen IPEELL delivered in the classroom, and was delivered in the last two years of primary school, rather than the end of Year 6 and first term of Year 7. Importantly, the second trial measured the average impact across all pupils, while the first looked only at pupils with low prior attainment. If we consider the results specifically for pupils with low prior attainment using IPEELL for two years, both trials show positive results, although the size of the impact is smaller for the scalable model.
For this reason, EEF is interested in whether another version of IPEELL can be developed, still scalable, but more similar to the original model, and targeted at Year 7 children with low prior attainment. Because of the mixed results to date, IPEELL is no longer listed as an EEF ‘promising project’. Schools considering IPEELL should carefully assess whether they can match the delivery conditions of the original, positive, project, and take measures to ensure that the increased focused on writing does not negatively affect reading and maths.
Pupils who used IPEELL for two years made around two months’ additional progress in writing, compared to pupils who did not. This result has a high security rating. The result was similar when considering only pupils eligible for free school meals who used IPEELL, who also made around two months’ additional progress.
The evaluation also measured writing results for pupils who used IPEELL for only one year, using a different writing test. This test showed that after one year, IPEELL pupils had made less progress than comparison pupils. This result had a very high security rating. Again, the results were similar for pupils eligible for free school meals.
These writing results are not statistically significant. This means that even if the intervention had no impact, the probability that, in this trial, we would have observed an effect size as large as the one found is greater than 5%.
Pupils who used IPEELL for two years made less progress in reading, spelling, and maths compared to pupils who did not. It is possible that an increased focus on writing led to less time spent on these topics.
The training of teachers was lacking in both the provision and breadth of practical examples and in fully modelling some aspects of the approach. This may have been because the training in this trial was carried out by inexperienced trainers and it may, therefore, be useful for the trainers to watch an experienced trainer train the teachers first.
Full project description
The IPEELL intervention is a writing process that encourages students to plan, draft, edit, and revise their writing. IPEELL stands for Introduction, Point, Explain, Ending, Links, and Language. The intervention was developed by the Calderdale Excellence Partnership (CEP) and is adapted from the U.S. programme Self-Regulated Strategy Development (SRSD). In addition to the writing process, the IPEELL intervention also involves ‘memorable experiences’ for students designed to act as a stimulus for their writing. This project tested the impact of one year of IPEELL for children in Year 6 and the impact of the two years of IPEELL children who started it in Year 5 and continued in Year 6. IPEELL was delivered to all children in these year groups.
The project was a randomised controlled trial; 84 schools and 2,682 children participated in the one- year trial and 83 schools and 2,762 children participated in the two-year trial. The trial was an effectiveness trial which tested the intervention under ‘real world’ conditions and schools were randomised to either receive the intervention or to act as a ‘business as usual’ control group. Writing outcomes were measured using Key Stage 2 (KS2) writing outcomes for the one-year trial and a bespoke writing test based on historic KS2 writing tests for the two-year trial. The process evaluation involved observations of the training sessions (both the teacher training and the training of the trainers), observations of lessons, and interviews with teachers. The trial took place between September 2015 and July 2017.