5(2) p. 7

Research Update: Writing and Word Processing

Gail E. Hawisher

Last year, in the November 1986 issue of Computers and Composition, I reviewed 24 studies conducted in word processing since 1981 and concluded that, for the most part, results from research were varied and conflicting. Some studies reported increased revision and improved quality (e.g., Daiute, 1986; Womble, 1985) whereas others noted increased revision and no improvement in quality (e.g., Gould, 1981; Collier, 1983; Daiute, 1984, 1985; Duling, 1985). Still others reported that neither the quality of the revision nor the success of the writing improved significantly when students produced texts with word processing (e.g., Hawisher, 1987). Since last year, 16 additional studies have appeared in professional journals or Dissertation Abstracts International (DAI) and, if we examine the two variables of revision and quality, contradictory results continue to emerge. Yet, for other variables and for some groups of writers, there seems to be a coming together of findings, which at the very least suggests certain lines of inquiry that researchers might profitably pursue. In this paper, I attempt to

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pull together common results and conclusions of 16 studies that have appeared during the past year and, in so doing, show how they add to an accumulating knowledge base in computers and composition. I first present an overview of the research before going on to discuss similar findings in particular studies. (See Tables 1 and 2.)


Of the 16 studies reported by researchers in the past year, 15 selected some group of students as their sample. Only one, a carefully constructed naturalistic study by Rae Schipke (1986), examined how professional writers interact with word processing. The school setting was also the most common context for the research reported on last year, with only a few of the studies using professional writers as a sample (e.g., Bridwell, Johnson, & Brehe, 1986; Catano, 1985; Haas, 1987; Lutz, 1983). (l) When instruction was a part of the context or, for experimental studies, a part of the treatment, the approach depicted writing as an activity in which students engaged in recursive processes of prewriting, composing, and revising. Thus, studies in word processing have concentrated largely on how computers work in instructional settings that are process-centered rather than on examining word processing only as a facilitator of writing for experienced writers.

Just as students were the most prevalent group of subjects, the most frequent method of inquiry used by researchers was the experimental design, with nine of the studies relying on quantitative methods. Of the remaining seven studies, one employed survey techniques (e.g., Selfe & Wahlstrom, 1986); four used case study methodology (e.g., Beserra, 1986; Flinn, 1985; Nichols, 1986; Schipke, 1986); and two were ethnographies (e.g., Dickinson, 1986; Reid, 1985). But regardless of whether the research employed quantitative or qualitative methods of inquiry, all but one (e.g., Dickinson, 1986) analyzed the written products. In fact, each of the experimental studies tried to assess the quality of texts produced with word processing. Other features of text that were examined included frequency and quality of revision, number of words, and number of errors.

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When researchers focused on the writers themselves, they looked at composers' attitudes toward word processing and writing, writers' habits and processes, and the amount of time devoted to the task of writing. In addition, a few of the studies examined some possible influences of word processing that had not been examined in any detail in previous studies. For example, Selfe and Wahlstrom (1986) looked at the extent of collaboration on computers in a college writing lab while Dickinson (1986) focused on the social implications of computer use among first and second graders; Woodruff and his colleagues (1986) examined how cognitive level might interact with eighth graders' use of word processing, while Coulter (1986) examined how word processing might influence students' cognitive growth; and Beserra (1986), in looking at prewriting, concluded that students seemed to devote less time to planning when working with computers than with conventional tools. Thus, social interactions among writers, cognition, and prewriting were variables that received closer attention than in the past.

Perhaps the most dramatic departure from the studies reported last year concerned whether or not writers were composing with word processing or whether they were merely transcribing prewritten text. With few exceptions (e.g., Sommers, 1986), the writers in the current studies seemed to use computers as composing rather than as transcription tools. Either writers are relying less on word processing for the services a good typist might provide and more for a tool that aids in composing, or researchers are concentrating on writers who use computers for composing rather than as transcription tools. In either case, this shifting emphasis should yield more accurate results regarding possible influences of computers on composing processes.

A subtle shift also seems to be taking place in our operational definition of computer composing. Whereas at one time computer composing tended to demand that every task or subprocess entailed in the activity of writing be performed at a computer, there seems to be growing agreement that writers who use some combination of strategies involving both hard copy and on-line composing are indeed computer composers. Christina Haas (1987) has argued, for example, that because writers have reading problems on-line, they use hard copy "to get a sense" of their texts. Yet the writers are nevertheless composing on-line, even as they use hard

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copy to help them revise. This broadened definition, I believe, takes into account a new sophistication in the way writers adapt word processing to the activity of writing. Control of the technology , after all, lies in the hands of the user rather than in the workings of the machine, with writers shaping their computer use to their own ends.


If we examine the 16 studies reported here in conjunction with the results of the studies presented last year, we can tentatively draw some conclusions of what we might expect when students use word processing as a writing tool. Common findings among the studies include 1) fewer errors in final drafts; 2) longer texts; 3) positive attitudes among writers toward writing with word processing; 4) and improved writing among basic writers. I discuss each of these commonalities, with possible implications for teaching, before turning to other developments that bear further investigation.

Fewer Errors

Based on results from both this and last year's review, fewer surface errors seem to occur in students' final drafts when they use word processing. Last year, I pointed out that studies regarding error vary in that some reported students made more errors initially but also corrected more (e.g., Levin et al., 1985), and others (e.g., Daiute, 1985) reported that students both corrected more and committed fewer errors at computers. Woodruff and his colleagues (1986) found a trend among both the enriched and average students to reduce the number of spelling errors from draft to revision at computers, and also noted that the average students improved significantly at computers for punctuation errors whereas the enriched students did not. The enriched students, however, made far fewer punctuation errors to begin with. Since the researchers were comparing both enriched and average students' performances at computers, it is difficult to ascertain whether this behavior was discernibly different from students' behavior without computers. Nevertheless, the final drafts of both groups of students were

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judged significantly more technically proficient than first drafts. Thus, it would seem from all these studies that we can expect students to submit papers that have been carefully edited when they work at computers.

Fewer errors in final drafts might be the result of increased student pride in a piece of work that looks professional or of the ease with which students can detect typed, as opposed to handwritten, errors. One might also speculate, however, that much of the increased error detection and correction is a result of students' devoting a greater amount of time to the process of editing and revising. Interestingly, although several of the studies looked at time as a variable (e.g., Sommers, 1986; Coulter, 1986; Woodruff et al., 1986), none of the studies that focused on error examined the relationship between the two variables. Coulter did find no correlation between revision frequency and time devoted to task, but revision frequency may include more than error correction. Woodruff and his colleagues suggested that the average students' papers improved mechanically more than the enriched students' work because the average students concentrated exclusively on surface features of text, unlike the enriched students who made other kinds of revisions. From this observation, it would seem that the average students devoted more time to editing than the other students in the study. In any event, researchers might profitably examine the relationship between the time students devote to the written task and error correction. But, regardless of the reason, final drafts seem to exhibit fewer mechanical aberrations when students work with word processing.

Longer Texts

Texts produced with word processing also seem to be slightly longer (e.g., Beserra, 1986; Cirello, 1986; Kaplan, 1986) when compared to texts written with conventional methods. In fact, of all the textual features examined, an increased number of words appears to be the most agreed upon finding, especially when considered in conjunction with studies reported last year (e.g., Bridwell, Johnson & Brehe, 1986; Collier, 1982, 1983; Daiute, 1986; Etchison, 1985; Haas, 1987; King, et al., 1984 ). Interestingly, two studies from last year that did not report longer texts (e.g., Duling, 1985; Miller, 1984) required students to write their first drafts by hand. Perhaps if

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word processing is used primarily as a revising tool, rather than as a composing tool, longer texts are less likely to result.

Lutz's research (1983) of seven experienced or professional writers was another study from last year's review that did not report longer texts with word processing. Despite writers in this study revising and editing far more frequently at computers, they wrote somewhat shorter texts. Whether the task, a press release, influenced writers differently from the school writing required in other studies is difficult to determine, although students usually perceive their teachers as prizing longer pieces of writing, something that would not be valued in a press release. Even in Bridwell and her colleagues' study of eight published graduate teaching assistants, the task was an essay written in response to an article on composition theory, a school-oriented piece of writing. Thus, the real-life task and its purpose might account for the short texts in Lutz's study.

Overall the increased length ranged from 25 to 200 words per piece of writing, with younger or less proficient writers averaging fewer words than the more experienced writers. The only exception to this observation is Collier's (1982, 1983) study in which the word-processing program was described as "complex." Three of the nursing students Collier studied wrote an average of 39 words more with computers, whereas the first-year college students Etchison studied produced a mean of 303 words more than the control group over two writing tasks. King and her colleagues (1984) reported an average of 100 words more for first-year basic writers with computers (although students wrote these final drafts with pen and paper). In addition, the professionals in Haas's (1987) study averaged 90 words more at advanced workstations in writing letters but only 30 words more on standard personal computers, while Bridwell and her colleagues' (1986) case studies of experienced writers showed an average of 200 words more in final sessions with word processing than with conventional methods. Younger writers, on the other hand, such as the junior high students in Daiute's (1986) study, averaged 25 to 50 more words on final drafts (but not first drafts) with word processing. Variances in the number of words among different age groups, of course, would probably also result with conventional methods of writing.

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Studies from research surveyed this year reporting increased length of texts with computers include Cirello's (1986) study in which tenth-grade basic writers averaged from 35 to 63 words more than the control group, depending upon the assignment; Kaplan's (1986) study of fifth graders who averaged 35 words more across assignments with word processing; and Beserra's (1986) study of first-year basic writers, in which she does not report how much longer texts with word processing averaged. Although the increased number of words was relatively small across studies, the differences were statistically significant in research that tested for significance.

Longer texts might well be a result of the ease with which even young students can write with word processing and perhaps indicates increased motivation for students working with computers. This second possibility is supported by many studies suggesting that students have positive attitudes toward working with word processing and enjoy writing with computers. (See Tables 1 and 2.)

Positive Attitudes

A majority of the studies in both this and last year's review reported positive attitudes toward word processing. Some even noted that students' opinion of writing improved as a result of writing with computers (e.g., Kurth, 1986). Others pointed out that students liked using word processing for revising but not for drafting (e.g., Woodruff et al., 1986; King et al., 1984). And still others suggested that the increase in positive attitudes was such that students seemed to collaborate with one another to a greater extent than in conventional classrooms (e.g., Rodrigues, 1985; Selfe & Wahlstrom, 1986; Reid, 1985; Dickinson, 1986). Thus, as teachers, we have some idea of what to expect from a classroom environment with word processing and can begin to shape our teaching strategies to these expectations.

Realizing, for example, that students might be hesitant to compose with word processing, we can identify those students who are anxious and lead them slowly into "computer composing," perhaps first giving them topics to write about that need less rehearsal than other structured assignments. Several informal class writings on computers might ease their apprehension so that

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they can decide whether composing at computers has benefits for them. We can also permit first drafts to be written in any fashion students choose and let them find their own pace for integrating word processing with composing. In this way, we can begin to use some of the results from research for constructing sound classroom approaches for teaching with computers.

Improved Writing among Basic Writers

One of the more intriguing common findings among the studies is that basic writers not only exhibit positive attitudes toward writing with computers, but also show improved quality in their writing. Of the two studies from last year that examined basic writers (e.g., Pivarnik, 1985; King et al., 1984), each reported improved writing when students used word processing. King and her colleague's study looked at 10 first-year remedial college students, and Pivarnik used 76 low-achieving eleventh graders as her sample.

Five additional studies dealing with similar populations of students have appeared in the last year, and, of the five, four examined quality of writing (e.g., Burnett, 1984; Cirello, 1986; Beserra, 1986; Posey, 1986). Only one of these studies, Posey's research with first-year college basic writers, did not report higher quality ratings for students when they wrote with word processing. That the 13 students in Posey's sample produced their post-tests by hand, rather than at computers, might well confound the results of this research. The three remaining studies reporting positive results used samples of elementary students (e.g., Burnett, 1984), high school students (e.g., Cirello, 1986), and first-year college writers (Beserra, 1986).

These results should be interpreted cautiously, but they do suggest, unlike research with more competent writers (see Tables 1 and 2), that word processing may be a promising tool for improving the actual quality of writing of low achievers. Burnett, for example, reported that six of the ten students she studied showed higher quality ratings when the writing was judged holistically. Her research is different from other studies reported here in that ten students were studied individually over a period of eight weeks in a single-case experimental design in which the treatment was repeated for each student. In this way, she was able to collect data for students at different class levels. Students who improved in

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their writing were from varied grades, with one or more of first, second, third, and fifth graders showing significant higher ratings across eight pieces of writing. Because the students were writing with the 1982 version of the BANK STREET WRITER, which prevents students from editing while they write, the positive results for even six of the ten students are impressive.

With his subjects also using the older version of the BANK STREET WRITER, Cirello found higher quality ratings among tenth-grade basic writers in their performance on two parts of New York's Regents Competency Test in Writing. The experimental group scored significantly higher than the control group on the composition and report part of the exam but not on the business letter. Cirello made the interesting observation that the experimental group averaged fewer absences and cited computer usage as a possible motivational force for improved attendance. Improved attendance, in turn, is likely to have contributed to a higher quality of writing for this group.

The last study of basic writers reporting improved writing is Beserra's case study research with first-year college basic writers. Five of the six students in this research showed improved quality ratings on narratives, and four of the six received higher scores on transactional writing they produced with word processing. It should be noted, however, that no tests for statistical significance for students' scores in both conditions were run, and no interrater-reliability estimate or percentage of agreement among the three trained raters was included in the research. Beserra's dissertation was a qualitative study and, as such, was designed to lead to questions rather than to generalizable results.

Overall, then, can we state with confidence that basic writers at various educational levels produce improved texts with word processing when it is introduced in a pedagogically sound instructional environment? Probably not-yet basic writers are the only students for which higher quality ratings are derived consistently across studies. Each study must be scrutinized carefully, however, to determine just what is meant by improved writing with word processing.

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Planning and Prewriting

Although researchers define prewriting somewhat differently from one another, there is some suggestion that writers may engage in less prewriting when they use computers than when they work with conventional tools of pen and paper. Using think-aloud protocols, Haas (1987) found that seven of the eight experienced writers she studied planned less frequently with computers in research reported here last year. Haas defined planning broadly to include goal setting, goal evaluation, and plans for carrying out goals globally and locally. Beserra also found less planning among the basic writers she studied. It should be noted, however, that Beserra's definition of prewriting had more to do with what students write rather than think before they begin the task of drafting. In any event, it seems plausible that writers might start composing at computers immediately without spending time planning-either by writing or thinking. This tendency may, in fact, be one reason why some writers prefer doing first drafts by hand (e.g., Woodruff et al., 1986; King et al., 1984).

If, as Flower and Hayes (1980) have observed, expert writers engage in more planning than novice writers, this finding might have important implications for instructors. Although we can't assume that increased planning will result automatically in improved quality, we certainly don't want technology to contribute less to students' planning. As instructors, then, we need to be aware of this possibility and try to teach with word processing in ways that encourage planning.

Increased Collaboration

From observations regarding student attitudes, one might hypothesize that a spirit of cooperation rather than of competitiveness prevails in a classroom with computers. Selfe and Wahlstrom's (1986) survey of college students and Reid's (1985) ethnographic study of fourth graders also suggest that students and instructors share more information in a word-processing environment, be it a writing lab or the instructional setting of a classroom. Dickinson (1986) has similarly noted different relationships among first and second graders when they worked at a computer. This change in

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social interactions among students and instructors might be capable of creating an improved classroom culture, if we can act upon it.

The pedagogical task becomes one of devising teaching strategies that capitalize on this cooperative classroom atmosphere. That is, are there certain instructional approaches that seem especially suited to a computer classroom in which students are motivated and tend to cooperate rather than to compete with one another? Will a greater number of collaborative exercises and projects (see Hawisher & Schmidt, 1985), for example, be more productive and work more efficiently for students in a computer environment than in a conventional classroom? Although the studies reported here described instruction as process-centered, are there other pedagogical methods that might work in conjunction with a process approach? Nancy Kaplan (1987) has argued convincingly that teaching strategies uniquely suited to computers have yet to be devised and that current pedagogy is bound to the old medium of pen and paper. A consideration of social changes that occur in classes as a result of the introduction of computers might lead us more rapidly to innovative pedagogical solutions.


I began this review with the perspective that recent studies have added to the research literature in such a way that there seems to be a coming together of findings-that when writers, and especially students, use word processing, certain behavior and particular features of text can be expected. This emerging view includes 1) fewer errors in final drafts; 2) longer texts; 3) positive attitudes among writers; 4) and improved writing among basic writers. Teachers might well question the value of some of these findings and ask what qualitative difference 30 or so more words possibly makes in student writing. We can address this question and elaborate upon the whole of this emerging view by hypothesizing that the common findings are part of a larger picture. That is, many students, for whatever reason, are more highly motivated when they work with word processing and thus write longer and mechanically more proficient texts. And some, such as the basic

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writer, may even produce higher quality writing at computers than with conventional tools because of this increase in motivation. The overall effect of this phenomenon is an instructional setting that both students and teachers find promising.

But it is important to note, I think, that the new classroom atmosphere I am describing is not directly attributable to the introduction of word processing. Rather it has more to do with the ways in which writers interact with one another when they are learning and writing with computers. The real challenge of working in this context, then, is to devise a pedagogy that capitalizes on both computers, and this cooperative atmosphere yet goes beyond what we have previously contrived. Currently, teaching strategies are either not powerful enough to encourage significant change in students and their writing, or individual studies are of too short duration to capture it. No research of which l am aware, for example, has extended beyond a year. Nevertheless, along with earlier studies, the research reviewed here contributes to an accumulating knowledge base that-with careful study-can inform and recommend future inquiry into pedagogy, computers, and composition.

Gail Hawisher teaches at the Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois.


(1) Those studies that were part of last year's review are included in the reference section at the end of this article. Although they appeared in the November 1986 issue of Computers and Composition, sometimes the date given for a particular study is 1987 because the research was either a dissertation or conference paper that has since been published.

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Beserra, W. C. (1986). Effects of Word Processing Upon the Writing Processes of Basic Writers. (Doctoral Dissertation, New Mexico State University, 1986). Dissertation Abstracts International, 48, 34-A.

Bridwell, L. S., Johnson, P. & Brehe, S. (1986). Composing and computers: Case studies of experienced writers. In A. Matsuhashi (Ed.), Writing in real time: Modeling production processes. Norwood, NJ: Ablex.

Bridwell, L. S., Sirc, G. & Brooke, R. (1985). Revising and computing: Case studies of student writers. In S. Freedman (Ed.), The acquisition of written language: Revision and response. Norwood, NJ: Ablex.

Burnett, J. H. (1984). Word processing as a writing tool of an elementary school student (a single-case experiment with nine replications). (Doctoral Dissertation, University of Maryland, 1984). Dissertations Abstracts International. 47, 1183-A.

Catano, J. (1985). Computer-based writing: Navigating the fluid text. College Composition and Communication. 36, 309-316.

Cirello, V. J. (1986). The effect of word processing on the writing abilities of tenth grade remedial writing students. (Doctoral dissertation, New York University, 1986). Dissertation Abstracts International, 47, 2531-A.

Collier, R. M. (1982). The influence of computer-based text editors on the revision strategies of inexperienced writers. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 266 719).

Collier, R. M. (1983). The word processor and revision strategies. College Composition and Communication 35, 149-155.

Coulter, C. A. (1986). Writing with word processors: Effects on cognitive development, revision and writing quality. (Doctoral dissertation, The University of Oklahoma, 1986). Dissertation Abstracts International, 47, 2551-A.

Curtiss, D. H. (1984). The experience of composition and word processing: An ethnographic, phenomenological study of high school seniors. (Doctoral Dissertation, Boston University, 1984). Dissertation Abstracts International, DA8416862.

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Daiute, C. (1984). Can the computer stimulate writers' inner dialogues? In W. Wresch (Ed.), The computer in composition instruction. Urbana, IL: National Council of Teachers of English.

Daiute, C. (1985). Do writers talk to themselves? In S. Freedman (Ed.), The acquisition of written language: Revision and response. Norwood, NJ: Ablex.

Daiute, C. (1986). Physical and cognitive factors in revising: Insights from studies with computers. Research in the Teaching of English, 20, 141-159.

Dickinson, David K. (1986). Cooperation, collaboration, and a computer: Integrating a computer into a first-second grade writing program. Research in the Teaching of English 20, 141-159.

Duling, R. A. (1985). Word processors and student writing: A study of their impact on revision, fluency, and quality of writing. (Doctoral dissertation, Michigan State University, 1985). Dissertation Abstracts International, 46, 3535-A.

Etchison, C. (1985). A comparative study of the quality and syntax of compositions by first year college students using hand-writing and word processing. (Doctoral Dissertation, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, 1985). Dissertation Abstracts International, 47, 01A.

J. Z., (1985). Composing, computers, and contexts: Case studies of revision among sixth graders in national writing project classrooms. (Doctoral Dissertation, University of Missouri at St. Louis, 1985). Dissertation Abstracts International, 46, 3636 A.

Flower, L. & Hayes, J.R. (1980). The cognition of discovery: Defining a rhetorical problem. College Composition and Communication, 31, 21-32.

Gerrard, L. (1982). Using a computerized text editor in freshman composition. Los Angeles, CA: UCLA Writing Programs. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 192 355).

Gould, J. D. (1981). Composing letters with computer-based text editors. Human Factors, 23, 5, 593-606.

Haas, C. (1987). Computers and the writing process: A comparative protocol study. Pittsburgh, PA: Carnegie-Mellon University Communications Design Center, Technical Report No. 33.

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Haas, C. & Hayes, J. R. (1986a). What did I just say? Reading problems in writing with the machine. Research in the teaching of English, 20, 1, 22-35.

Haas, C. & Hayes, J. R. (1986b). Pen and paper vs. the machine: Writers composing in hard copy and computer conditions. Pittsburgh, PA: Carnegie-Mellon University Communications Design Center, Technical Report No. 16.

Hawisher, G. E. (1987). The effects of word processing on the revision strategies of college freshmen. Research in the Teaching of English, 21, 145-159.

Hawisher, G. E. & Schmidt, G. D. (1985). Collaborative writing: A successful strategy for computer-assisted instruction. Illinois English Bulletin, 73, 28-35.

Harris, J. ( 1985). Student writers and word processing: A preliminary evaluation. College Composition and Communication. 36, 323-330.

Herrmann, A. (1985). Using the computer as a writing tool: Ethnography of a high school writing class. (Doctoral Dissertation, Teachers College, Columbia University, 1985). Dissertation Abstracts International, DA8602051.

Kaplan, H. (1986). Computers and composition: Improving students' written performance. (Doctoral Dissertation, University of Massachusetts, 1986). Dissertation Abstracts International, 47, 776-A.

Kaplan, N. (1987). The technologies of teaching. Paper presented at the Penn State Conference on Rhetoric and Composition, State College, PA.

King, B., Birnbaum, J. & Wageman, J. (1984). Word processing and the basic college writer. In T. Martinez (Ed.), The written word and the word processor. Philadelphia, PA: Delaware Valley Writing Council.

Kurth, R. (1986). Using word processing to enhance revision strategies during student composing. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association. San Francisco, CA.

Levin, J., Riel, M., Rowe, M., & Boruta, M. (1985). Muktuk meets jacuzzi: Computer networks and elementary school writers. In S. Freedman (Ed.), The Acquisition of written language: Response and Revision. Norwood, NJ: Ablex.

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Lutz, J. A. (1983). A study of professional and experienced writers revising and editing at the computer and with pen and paper. (Doctoral dissertation, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 1983). Dissertation Abstracts International, 44, 2755-A.

Miller, S. K., (1984). Plugging your pencil into the wall: An investigation of word processing and writing skills at the middle school level. (Doctoral Dissertation, University of Oregon, 1984). Dissertation Abstracts International, 45, 3535-A.

Nichols, R. (1986). Word processing and basic writers. Journal of Basic Writing. 5, 81-97.

Pivarnik, B., (1985). The effect of training in word processing on the writing quality of eleventh grade students. (Doctoral Dissertation, The University of Connecticut, 1985). Dissertation Abstracts International, 46,1827-A.

Posey, E. J. (1986). The writer's tool: A study of microcomputer word processing to improve the writing of basic writers. (Doctoral Dissertation, New Mexico State University, 1986). Dissertation Abstracts International, 48, 39-A.

Reid, T. R. (1985). Writing with microcomputers in a fourth grade classroom: An ethnographic study. (Doctoral Dissertation, Washington State University, 1985). Dissertation Abstracts International, 47, 817-A.

Rodrigues, D. (1985). Computers and basic writers. College Composition and Communication, 36, 336-339.

Schipke, R C. (1986). Writers and word processing technology: Case studies of professionals at work. (Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pennsylvania, 1986.) Dissertation Abstracts International, 47,1226-A.

Selfe, C., (1985). The electronic pen: Computers and the composing process. In J. Collins & E. Sommers (Eds.), Writing on-line: Using computers in the teaching of writing. Upper Montclair, NJ: Boynton/Cook.

Selfe, C. L. & Wahlstrom, Billie J. (1986). An emerging rhetoric of collaboration: Computers, Collaboration, and the Composing Process. Collegiate Microcomputer. 4, 289-296.

Sommers, E. (1986). The effects of word processing and writing instruction on the writing processes and products of college writers. (Doctoral Dissertation, State University of New York at Buffalo). Dissertation Abstracts International, 47, 2064-A.

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Wetzel K. A. (1985). The effect of using the computer in a process writing program on the writing quality of third, fourth, and fifth grade pupils. (Doctoral Dissertation, University of Oregon). Dissertation Abstracts International, 47, 76-A.

Womble, G. (1985). Revising and computing. In J. Collins & E. Sommers (Eds.), Writing on-line: Using computers in the teaching of writing. Upper Montclair, NJ: Boynton/Cook.

Woodruff, E., Lindsay, P., Bryson, M., & Joram, E. (1986). Some cognitive effects of word processors on enriched and average 8th grade writers. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, San Francisco, CA.

Woolley, W. C. (1985). The effects of word processing on the writing of selected fifth-grade students. (Doctoral Dissertation, The College of William and Mary in Virginia, 1985). Dissertation Abstracts International, 47. DA 8606988.

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Experimental Studies
Study Design Tools Context Variables Analysis Results Noteworthy
Sample Number Duration (wks) Word- Processing Package Computer Setting Description of Instruction # Instructors Composed at computers Attitudes Errors Quality Syntax Processes Revision # Words Time Cognitive dev. Assessment Revision Interview Syntactic Keystroke Surveys Protocols Journals Other Pos. attitudes Fewer errors Improved qual. Incrsd revision Incrsd fluency Incrsd length Incrsd time
Burnett (1984) Low achievers 1st-5th grades 10 8 Bank Street Writer 1982 Apple IIe Reading group in class Process- centered . Y X - X X - - - - - Holistic and analytical - X - - - - - - Y - Y - Y - - Experiment replicated nine tiems with different students.
Cirello (1986) 10th grade basic writers 30 20 Bank Street Writer (1982) Apple English class w/ comptuers Process w/ out peer rvw 1 Y - - X X - - X - - Holistic researcher's criteria - X - X - X - - - N/Y Y Y Y - Experimental group showed improved writing over control group on composition & report but not business letter.
Coulter (1986) College 1st year 62 16 . . Computer lab . 6 Y - - X - - X - X X Holistic Bridwell (1979) - - - - - - X - - N N - - - Small effect for growth in cognitive development for students at computers.
Kapian (1986) 5th graders 56 5 Select DEC Rainbow Classroom lab Conference process approach 2 Y - - X - - X X - - Holistic Faigley & Witte - - - - - - - - - Y N - Y - Exp. group wrtoer longer better pieces in a revision-centered environment with computers.
Posey (1986) College 1st-year basic writers 13 14 Bank Street Writer Apple Computer lab/ classroom Writing as process workshop 1+ Y X - X - X X - - - Holistic . X - - X - X - Y - N Y - - - Although students wrote more drafts w/ computers, quality of writing did not improve.
Sommers (1986) College students 79 16 Bank Street Writer and Applewriter Apple College writing classrooms Process- oriented 2 Y X - X - X X - X - Holistic Faigley & Witte - - - - - - - Y - Y Y - - Y Four students' writing was the focus of revision analysis.
Survey 31 N
Wetzel (1985) 3rd, 4th, & 5th graders 36 10 Bank Street Writer 1984 Apple Computer lab Following research scripts 8 Y - - X - - - - - - Holistic - - - - - - - - - - N - - - - Found significant positive correlation between students' typing speed and quality of writing.
Woodruff, Lindsay, Bryson, & Joram (1986) Average and enriched 8th graders 16 1 ICON driven word proc. ICON . - - Y X X X X X X X X X Holistic . X X - X X - X Y/N Y N/Y - - Y Y Study focuses on how students' cognitive ability affects use of word- processing programs.
Woolley (1985) 5th graders 120 2 Bank Street Writer Apple Classroom Process-oriented 2 Y - - X - - - - - - Holistic and analytical - - - - Y - - - - - N - - - - Students wrote at computers for 16 45-minute sessions in experimental group.
Survey Research
Selfe & Wahlstrom (1986) Instructors 11 - - - College computer writing lab - - - Examined the kinds of questions asked in a lab, as well as notions of privacy and etiquette - - X - - X - - - Questions among subjects largely focused on hardware and software. A majority regarded writing as "more public," not always desired. Computers in a college writing lab seem to increase the sharing of writing and information among subjects.
Students 16
. =Information not given X =examined - =not a concern of study Note: If a date doesn't appear after the Bank Street Writer, the researcher didn't specifiy whether it was the 1982 version, which requires students to exit the insert mode before they can edit, or the 1984 version which permits point-of-utterance revision.

TABLE 1: Experimental Studies and Survey Research

p. 26-27

Case Studies
Study Design Tools Context Analysis Themes
Sample Number Duration (wks) Word Processing Package Computer Setting # Instructors Description of Instruction Composed with Computers Written Product Interview Keystroke Assessment Surveys Revision Protocols Journals Observation Video/Audio Tapes
Finn (1985) 6th graders 8 36 Miliken Word Processing Program Apple IIe Classroom w/ computers 4 National writing project classes Y X X X - - Bridwell 1979 X X X X Children revised larger chunks of texts at computers. Pen and paper writers instead focused on surface features.
Beserra (1986) Basic writers 6 . DECtype Mainframe Private room for 2 handwritten. Lab for 2 others. 1 Process-centered Y X X X Holistic X X Retrospective X X X Wrote slightly longer, better essays w/ word processing programs & devoted more time to writing. They didn't demonstrate increased prewriting.
Nichols (1986) College basic writers 5 7-10 days Bank Street Writer 1982 Apple IIe Private room in library. Info not given on computers 1 During study, writers received no composition instruction Y X X - - - X X - - - Writers used system to do more of the same of what they were doing without word processing. Longer texts were produced with word processing.
Schipke (1986) Professional writers 2 12 hours over many mo Scripsit TRS80 Home - - Y X X - - - X X X X - Word-processing programs helped professional writers carry out their established practices and routines with greater efficiency.
OASYS 64 NBI Office
Dickinson (1986) 1st & 2nd graders 21 32 . Apple IIe Classroom w/ 1 computer 1 Process-centered Y - X - - - - - X X X Talk between students at computer more likely to focus on style and content than on production of acceptable handwritten texts, a common concern for these students without computers.
Reid (1985) 4th graders Class 4 28 Miliken's writing workshop Apple IIc & Apple IIe Classroom, hall, & lab 1 Two days of writing per week Y X X - - X - - - X X Computers seemed to act as a catalyst in transforming writing from a private to a public activity.

.=Information not given X=Examined -=not a concern of study

TABLE 2: Case studies and Ethnographies