Fourth graders' writing achievement: library print sources versus internet research

The purpose of this study was to determine whether having Internet access in the classroom improved a student's ability to effectively research and write about a topic. The Internet offers access to information resources unavailable fifteen years ago. This study was needed to provide insight as to whether the use of the Internet for resources benefits students' writing abilities. Students in this study wrote two research reports about two different animals. They used Internet sources for one, and library print sources for the other. Each report was scored using a rubric that evaluated content and mechanics for writing. The scores were compared to identify any difference or advantage to having the Internet available for their research. Pre and post surveys and teacher observation notes were analyzed to determine student perceptions. The class writing score means showed a statistically insignificant increase for reports with print versus Internet sources. However, more than half the individual students showed improvement with one type of source versus the other. Pre and post survey results indicated that more students felt frustration with both the computer resources and the library sources after the research reports, but students felt better equipped to read and write about nonfiction topics after both experiences. Researcher observation notes also showed that many students preferred and or performed better with either Internet or library print sources, depending on the student. KEYWORDS: elementary, writing, research, Internet, print sources, information literacy