Writing with Computers: Accommodation, Achievement, and Attitudes
A three-year study examined the efficacy of microcomputers in the teaching of writing in the regular school classroom and combined experimental and observational methods to develop a model of effective application of computers to the eighth-grade writing skills situation. Divided into control, mixed, and experimental classes, 281 students in six classes using computers were compared with 231 students in nine classes using paper and pencil and 212 students in nine classes in a mixed treatment, using computers as well as paper-and-pencil. Results showed that a computer was needed for each individual student during every class meeting to maximize the value of using word processing. In the fully computerized treatment, students demonstrated greater use of high-level editing than in the paper-and-pencil or mixed treatments, and students who used computers developed more positive attitudes toward revision, drafting, and learning to use computers than those who had only brief or no exposure. Results suggested 14 design criteria to weigh in effective computerization of writing classrooms, and writing instruction was most effective in brief, immediately applied "mini-units" rather than in longer lessons. Student work was initially slower and more asynchronous among members of a class, and teaching was most effective using process-based and cooperative learning strategies. Student use of printers was key to increased feedback from others, leading to increased revising and editing of their work. The model illustrates the contributions of computers, printers, lessons, and learning environment to the development of mature writing skills. (One figure and four tables of data are included; 40 references are attached. (KEH)
Eastman, S.T. Writing with Computers: Accommodation, Achievement, and Attitudes.