Masters Thesis

Exploring students' writing on a computer versus paper and pencil

This study examined how writing scores and experiences compared for upper-elementary students who composed text via Google Docs versus traditional writing with paper and pencil. The fifth-grade participants in this study completed a three week writing unit and produced a multi-paragraph opinion essay that was assessed. Participants then took part in a post survey to share their experiences, successes, and challenges in writing with their assigned writing medium. The treatment group had a nominally higher overall mean score than the control group, with writing performance scores looking similar across both groups. Data from the survey responses revealed that the treatment group edited their writing more often than the control group and that they had higher levels of engagement and more positive attitudes in writing than the control group. However, the control group revised their writing more often than the treatment group. Themes from the open-ended responses centered around the ideas of distractions, neatness, and spelling, with students citing pros and cons for both writing with paper and pencil and a computer. It’s also important to note that regardless of the method students used to compose text, their writing preferences played a role in their writing experience.