Roblyer, M., & Doering, A. (2010, July 20). The Impact of Word Processing in Education. Retrieved December 5, 2014, from http://www.education.com/reference/article/impact-word-processing-education/
In the article, The Impact of Word Processing in Education, M.D. Roblyer, A. H. Doering argue that even though word processing by students is controversial, its use is growing.
Roblyer and Doering acknowledge that “...word processing has become the most commonly used software in education.” They bullet list the benefits of using word processors including student modification of teacher-created materials instead of creating new documents, and ease of modifications to a document over a typewriter; enhanced document appearance, including use of templates; ease of sharing documents for grading and collaboration with other students.
However, they state that the findings seem to be mixed whether word processing is a benefit or not. They cites finding from three reviews from Bangert-Drowns, 1993; Hawisher, 1989; Snyder, 1993. Based on the findings, it seems that writing only improves on a word processor if good writing instruction is present, and students have the time to learn good word processing skills. Yet, in another cited report from Goldberg, Russell, and Cook (2003) found that studies from 1992 to 2002 show a “stronger relationship between computers and quality of writing than previous such analyses had.” Students seem to revise more as they write with a word processor than they did handwriting or when using a typewriter. Findings show that students also seemed to give and receive feedback with peers and the teacher earlier in the writing process.
Roblyer and Doering explain that educators disagree in many areas in regards to starting students on word processing, on whether keyboarding skills should be taught, and whether word processing leads to a degradation of handwriting.
Evaluating writing on tests seemed to bring forth other concerns. “Roblyer (1997) reviewed research that found that students' word-processed compositions tend to receive lower grades than handwritten ones do.” Roblyer and Doering comment that considerations are needed to ensure evaluators are properly trained, so they do not fault written work that has been done on a word processor.
Roblyer and Doering end by saying that regardless of the mixed findings, word processor use is growing in schools.
I am surprised to find that there were any controversies in regards to the use of word processing. It seems like a no-brainer to me that word processing can only help the writing process. The ability to manipulate the words on the page is a huge benefit to my writing. I used to cut sentences from my typed pages and spread them on the floor in order to arrange them and see what worked best. Now, I cut and paste. Perhaps it is the appearance of on the word processor that allows students to think that their writing is correct. Maybe they think that if it looks nice, it must be well-written. There is no substitution for good writing instruction. Using a word processor becomes just another piece of technology. We are not teaching the use of the tool; we are teaching the subject and using the tool to augment it.