Friday, June 6, 2008

Archive: Writing by Pen, Typewriter and Computer

The purpose of this blog is to summarize articles on teaching English/language arts, from kindergarten through college, published in English education journals from the past.

Topic: Writing with Pen and Paper, Typewriter and Computer

Title: “The Effects of Word Processing on the Revision Strategies of College Freshmen.” Gail E. Hawisher. Research in the Teaching of English 21 (1987): 145-159. Reviewed in College Composition and Communication (October 1988), 336. A publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

Summary: No improvement favors any of the three methods of composing. “Finds no support for the view that students will revise more, and in different ways, when using a computer than when using pen and typewriter, and finds that the quality of final drafts revised on pen and typewriter was as good as that of final drafts using the computer.”

Comments: I am prepared to accept that revising with pen and paper, typewriter and computer do not give advantage to any of these mediums so far as quality is concerned. However, my experience when teaching composition with pen and paper, primarily, and with a typewriter by students trained in typing, was that revision was confused with editing surface mistakes in grammar and was so tedious [the whole composition had to be revised by hand] that students did not revise.

On the other hand, when word processing programs were not too complicated and could focus on writing, the students’ attitude was positive and they were willing to revise and to be shown how to revise. Students loved word processing and, as a result, they enthusiastically embraced writing. Quality of writing might not have been better, but attitude toward writing was! RayS.

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