Essay (writing) skills and ICT

One of the focus questions asked in the survey of teachers about the thoughts of using Laptops in the class in a 1:1 program was.

Will you move to more submission and of work to online or electronic formats.

The follwing answer was given to the question by an english teacher

Yes, but not all the time. One of my fears is that students’ abilities to produce hand written work will diminish. Increasingly, hand writing is becoming poorer and students ability to produce longer hand written texts – eg. in an exam situation – is hampered by over-dependence on typing. They will still need to write exams for at least the foreseeable future. I know we are focusing on 7-9s but it is an issue that needs addressing right from the start, not just when they get to upper school.

The following quote is an edit from a paper“Using Technology to Enhance Literacy Instruction” coauthored by Ann Holum, Ph.D., and Jan Gahala, M.A.

While I have provided some highlights here, I recommend the whole article for full depth of understanding.

Word processing … requires the mastery of basic keyboarding skills, word processing allows many students to write and edit their work more easily.

Research indicates that students who are comfortable with word processing write longer papers, spend more time writing and revising, and show improved mechanics and word choice (Lehr, 1995).

Nevertheless, research also indicates that using a word processor does not by itself improve student writing. Rather, the teacher has a critical role in guiding the writing process, providing feedback, and encouraging revision (Reinking &; Bridwell-Bowles, 1996).

A study of children’s writing in a high-computer-access setting compared to a setting with infrequent usage, conducted during a three-year period beginning with third grade, showed that frequent use of word processing contributed to improved writing skills (Owston & Wideman, 1997).

Another study of second-grade students indicated that word processing improved children’s general writing skills and contributed to longer compositions (Jones, 1994).

Other researchers have tempered this finding …. revisions of written work do not automatically result from the shift from pen-and-paper to word processing unless prompts for revision are explicitly added (Daiute & Kruidenier, 1985; Daiute, 1986).

The computer screen enables students in small groups to see the writing that has been input, discuss its fine points, and make suggestions that will improve the quality. Wood (2000) notes that when using computers collaboratively “children worked together more than they normally would to write stories, search the Web, or create multimedia presentations” (p. 120).


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