Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Impact of Digital Tools on Student Writing and How Writing is Taught in Schools

This afternoon, I'm digging into this survey about technology and writing from the Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project. The survey asked about 2,500 middle and high school teachers about how digital technologies have affected student writing. 

From the Overview:

According to teachers, students’ exposure to a broader audience for their work and more feedback from peers encourages greater student investment in what they write and in the writing process as a whole.

At the same time, these teachers give their students modest marks when it comes to writing and highlight some areas needing attention. Asked to assess their students’ performance on nine specific writing skills, teachers tended to rate their students “good” or “fair” as opposed to “excellent” or “very good.” Students received the best ratings on their ability to “effectively organize and structure writing assignments” and their ability to “understand and consider multiple viewpoints on a particular topic or issue.” Teachers gave students the lowest ratings when it comes to “navigating issues of fair use and copyright in composition” and “reading and digesting long or complicated texts.”

The Washington Post's report on the survey notes that "teachers weren’t thrilled about students using casual writing in formal assignments" (including "tech talk" and "shortening"). One survey response highlights this problem:

Texting has spilled over into so much of my students' writing that trying to decipher what they are writing has become difficult. They don't see the problem, and feel that as long as they have written something, it should be accepted no matter how it's written.

Interesting reading!

(h/t to my friend Brendon, who used technology to tweet a link to the survey to me this morning)



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