Fien De Smedt

Post-doctoral assistant at the research group 'Language, learning, innovation', within the Department of Educational Studies, Ghent University.White Writing   |  +32 (0)9 331 03 19  |  +32 (0)9 264 86 64 (secretariat)  |  Office 120.103

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 Henri Dunantlaan 2, 9000 Gent


Fien De Smedt



Cognitive and motivational writing challenges

Upper-elementary education




The success of our knowledge society is dependent on the level of literacy of its population. Effective literacy skills, such as reading and writing, are therefore crucial to participate in modern society and to foster societal changes. Research, however, consistently points at causes for concern in this respect. As to writing, for example, which is the central theme of my dissertation, large-scale writing assessments internationally documented that a substantial portion of students encounter difficulties with writing texts, thereby revealing alarming results on students’ poor writing performance all over the globe. As writing poses both cognitive and motivational challenges for novice writers, my dissertation explicitly focusses on the age group of upper-elementary school students (age 11-12). In view of creating optimal writing experiences and instruction and improving students’ writing performance and motivation, we need a better understanding of the current practices and outcomes of writing instruction in upper-elementary grades in Flanders. Therefore, gaining in-depth insight in the current state of writing instruction and outcomes in Flanders and providing evidence-based guidelines to improve the quality of writing instruction and, in turn, promote upper-elementary students’ writing forms the main rationale for my dissertation.


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