Writing with Laptops

A Quasi-Experimental Study

Authors

  • Penelope Collins University of California, Irvine
  • Jin Kyoung Hwang University of California, Irvine
  • Binbin Zheng University of California, Irvine
  • Mark Warschauer University of California, Irvine

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.1558/wap.v5i2.203

Keywords:

one-to-one computing, laptops, English learners, writing, composition

Abstract

This study examines the effects of a one-to-one laptop program on the scientific writing of 5th and 6th grade students. A total of 538 native English-speaking, fluent English-proficient, and limited English-proficient students from four laptop schools and three control schools were prompted to write scientific essays at the start and end of the school year. Essays were examined along three dimensions: word use, text complexity, and writing quality. Overall, students who used laptops wrote longer, better structured essays that included more paragraphs and sentences. Students in the laptop condition also wrote higher quality prose that contained richer details and better addressed the prompts. Students in the laptop condition additionally showed greater gains from the beginning to the end of the year in the number of sentences per paragraph and the number of words per sentence than students in control classrooms. Finally, we found that although students’ writing varied as a function of proficiency in English, the effects of writing with laptops, in terms of both modality effects and gains associated with the treatment, were comparable for students with limited English proficiency, language minority students who were considered to have fluent English proficiency, and native English speakers. Thus, the benefits of including individual laptops in writing instruction may be enjoyed by elementary school students with varying levels of English proficiency.

Author Biographies

Penelope Collins, University of California, Irvine

Penelope Collins is an Associate Professor in the School of Education at the University of California, Irvine. She earned her doctorate at the Ontario Institute for Studies of Education – University of Toronto. Her research examines the cognitive and linguistic processes involved in literacy and language development for linguistically diverse students. In addition to her research, she has co-authored a U.S. Institute of Education Sciences practice guide and a textbook series to support literacy development for students who are English language learners.

Jin Kyoung Hwang, University of California, Irvine

Jin Kyoung Hwang is a doctoral student in the School of Education at the University of California, Irvine, specializing in Language, Literacy, and technology. Her research focuses on adolescent literacy and second language and literacy development of language minority learners. She is currently investigating the reading and writing performance of language minority students with varying levels of English proficiency. She has presented her work at the annual meetings of Society for the Scientific Study of reading, Literacy research Association, and American Education research Association.

Binbin Zheng, University of California, Irvine

Binbin Zheng completed her doctorate at the University of California, Irvine, specializing in Language, Literacy, and technology. She recently joined Michigan State University as Assistant Professor of Language, Literacy, and technology in the department of counselling, Educational Psychology, and Special Education and the Confucius Institute. Her dissertation is entitled, “Social media and classroom Writing: Participation, Interaction, and collaboration.” She has received a National Science Foundation community for Advancing discovery research in Education Fellowship.

Mark Warschauer, University of California, Irvine

Mark Warschauer is Professor and Associate dean of Education at the University of California, Irvine, and founding editor of the Language Learning & Technology journal. He earned his doctorate at the University of Hawaii. He is the author or editor of eight books and more than 100 scholarly papers on topics related to technology use for language and literacy development, education, and social inclusion. His most recent book is Learning in the Cloud: How (and Why) to Transform Schools with Digital Media (2011, teachers college Press).

Published

2014-02-04

How to Cite

Collins, P., Hwang, J. K., Zheng, B., & Warschauer, M. (2014). Writing with Laptops: A Quasi-Experimental Study. Writing & Pedagogy, 5(2), 203–230. https://doi.org/10.1558/wap.v5i2.203

Issue

Section

Research Matters