An extended bibliography of IEA publications and study-related reports is online. Many of the publications can be downloaded free of charge.
Written Composition Study
The IEA Written Composition Study examined the teaching and learning of written composition in schools in order to identify the associated beliefs and conventions.
The study also endeavored to find factors that would explain differences and patterns in the performance of written composition and other outcomes, with particular attention paid to cultural background, curriculum, and teaching practices. Six types of writing were assessed (reflective, personal, philosophic, argumentative, persuasive, and literary) on the dimensions of style and tone, overall impression, content, and organization. Background information was gathered through questionnaires administered to students, teachers, and school principals. The data were collected in 1984–1985.
The study included three target populations: students near the end of primary schooling (10- to 12-year-olds), students near the end of compulsory schooling (15- to 17-year-olds), and students near the end of academic secondary school (17- to 19-year-olds).
Participating education systems
Chile, England, Finland, Germany (FRG) (Hamburg), Hungary, Indonesia, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Sweden, Thailand, United States, and Wales.
The construct "written composition" was found to be situated in a cultural context, and so could not be considered a general cognitive capacity or activity. Marked variation across countries existed in both the ideology of teachers and instructional practices. Written performance was also found to be task dependent.
Good compositions from different countries shared several common qualities (in handling of content, organization, and style), but these qualities had distinct national or local characteristics related to organization, use of detail, and other aspects of rhetoric. Students across countries shared a sense of the importance of the written product and its surface features. Beneath that commonality, however, there was national variation in the perceptions of what was valued.
In most of the countries, girls were treated differently than boys in the provision of writing instruction and in the rating of writing performance, particularly at the primary and lower-secondary school levels where instruction was largely provided by female teachers. In such a milieu, the most successful students were girls, and gender itself, or gender in combination with certain home variables, was the most powerful predictor of successful performance, particularly on the more 'academic' tasks.
Differences between the ratings of student writing were not explained by differences in instruction. They were, however, accounted for by factors involving the characteristics of the home, the reinforcement provided by parents, and the cultural values of the community.
Gorman, T.P., Purves, A.C., & Degenhart, R.E. (Eds.). (1988). The IEA Study of Written Composition I: The international writing tasks and scoring scales. Oxford: Pergamon Press.
Purves, A.C. (Ed.). (1992). The IEA Study of Written Composition II: Education and performance in fourteen countries. Oxford: Pergamon Press.
Saari, H. (1991). Writing curricula in sixteen countries: International study in written composition—IEA. Jyväskylä, Finland: University of Jyväskylä.