The effects of voice recording technology on emergent writing achievement

The purpose of this study is to determine the effects of using Voice Recording Technology (VRT) apps for tablets on beginning writers’ productivity, as measured by the number of words and ideas in their writing assignments. Since beginning writers are still developing their handwriting and spelling skills, the lack of automaticity for these skills may impact working memory during the translating component of the writing process, which consists of text generation, or formulating the actual words the writer wants to use, and transcription, which requires handwriting and spelling skills. The researcher wished to see if using VRT as a scaffolding tool for writing by recording words and sentences generated by emerging writers would mitigate the effects of handwriting and spellings difficulties on their ability to retain the text they generated in memory. The researcher compared writing productivity, as measured by counting the number of words and ideas, between assignments for the same writing prompt completed with and without VRT by two different groups of first grade students during an afterschool writing program. Since the students did not use VRT for all assignments, the researcher was also able to compare individual students’ writing productivity for assignments completed with and without VRT. No definitive conclusions were reached since using VRT improved writing productivity by varying degrees for some students but not for others. Possible reasons for the disparity include differences in text generation skills, oral language skills, and vocabulary knowledge, skills which were not measured by the researcher before the study. Also, the use of VRT may have been a distraction for some students. Nevertheless, VRT could be used as a scaffolding tool to differentiate writing instruction according to individual needs. Using VRT could also be a way to meet the California Common Core State Standards (2013), which require the incorporation of technology into the writing process as well as in collaboration with peers.