Writing: Reluctant Writers

Dr Paul Gardner | View as single page | Comment/Feedback


The evidence presented here is from a three year research project funded by the Bedford Charity (Harpur Trust) in the UK (2007-2010).

  • Phase one of the project sought to investigate the impact mind maps might have on the writing of reluctant writers.
  • Phase two of the project involved a comparative investigation of the impact on the writing of reluctant writers of mind maps and other pre-writing strategies, including: story maps, film and drama.
  • Schools worked collaboratively with a lead researcher from the University of Bedfordshire, which is located at the cusp of south central and eastern England


  • There were two phases to the project (2007-09, 2009-10), the first of two years duration involved 66 pupils aged between 6-9 years old and 11 teachers across nine schools, and the second involved 44 pupils aged between 7-9 and 8 teachers in five schools. The schools were a mixture of rural and urban schools in Bedfordshire, UK. The pupils were from a range of ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds (from those living on state benefits to the moderately affluent).
  • Parental consent was given in all cases. Because of the high level of interest from parents, one school ran a workshop to demonstrate mind mapping for parents.


Teachers were trained as co-researchers. They set up the study with the pupils by explaining the purpose of the study and providing experience with the mind mapping methods. There were then regular symposia between the teachers and the university based researcher to discuss and analyse the data and the plan the next stage of data collection.

Data were gathered through:

  • participant observation by teachers who were trained to use the same methods. Observations were recorded in a journal.
  • analysis of the pupils' work using two assessment models (APP and Gardner: see assessment node in this MESH Guide)
  • pupil survey (during the study )


Examples of some of the instruments used in this study, to gather data from pupils, can be seen below: