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Article Critique #1 1

Article Critique of

“The Effects of of Incorporating a Word Processor Into a Year Three Writing

Program”

Rita Santillan

University of British Columbia

ETEC 500

June 2010
Article Critique #1 2

The article covers the result of a research into the use of a word processor in writing

in year three class. The main goal of the study is to find whether the attitudes of year

threee students improve with regard to writing when using a word processor versus a

traditional paper and pen.

Natalie Beck and Tony Fetherston are the authors of The Effects of Incorporating a

Word Processor Into a Year Three Writing Program. They are associated with Edith

Cowan University in Australia. They did not report the exact time of the study, but they

published the article in 2003 in the Information Technology in Childhood Education

Annual.

The authors had three objectives which included research of the attitudes (1)

towards writing, and the current writing program (2) towards writing in relation to using

a word processor and writing, (3) and whether students’ writing changed when word

processors were used.

In order to effectuate the study the researchers selected a population of seven

participants from a split year three/four class from a school in Australia. The students’

tasks were to write two hand written and two word processed stories, as well answered

open-ended questions regarding to their beliefs and feelings on their writing assignment.

While the researchers used a combination of interviews and observation before, during

and after the study concluded to collect data and construct individual case studies.

Researches evaluated the students’ writing with the assistance of the classroom

teacher using the First Steps Writing Development Continuum, and the Standarized

marking criteria by Tompkins, which included ideas, organization, styles, and mechanics.

After analyzing all collected data, they concluded that students produced better writing
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using the word processor than paper and pencil method.

The First Steps Writing Developmental Continuum was a measurement tool that

was supposed to effectively place students into a phase of development. However, they

placed wrongly all students at the same level at the beginning of the study. Was this

issue a result of a method, missaplication of the measure of the effect of the word

processor in the writing process?

The evaluation of the writing pieces resulted in biased or conflicting results.

Besides, the lack of information on the checklist, there were several mistakes on the

research method, which included the incongruence of the story starter in the hand writing

section compared to the word processing phase, and the writing strategy. The researchers

encouraged the word processor phase with the use of the software program Story Book

Weaver Deluxe that allowed the inclusion of images and sound. Conversely, they did not

encourage the hand writing phase, students received a blank piece with the expectation of

being creatives. To this respect, it is not clear if the researchers were measuring the effect

of just a word processor or a multimedia engine on writing.

The researchers followed the steps of typical educational research. However, the

study of seven students taking in a convenience sample for forty five minutes over six

weeks is a very short period of time that does not result in any valid conclusions.

Furthermore, the small sample size, the sampling type and short period of observation

prevent the credibility of the study. I think students indeed enjoyed and produced better

pieces of writing using the word processor than the traditional paper and pen; however,

but I do not consider this as a fact that emerges from the research.
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Reference:

Beck, N., & Fetherston, T, (2003). The effects of incorporating a word processor into a

year three writing program. Information. Information Technology in Childhood

Education Annual, 139-161.