Date of Award

2000

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Education Honours

Faculty

Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Dr Tony Fetherston

Abstract

Writing is a "complex interplay of social, physical, and cognitive factors" (Daiute, 1985a, p.1) and an essential part of every young child's school life. However, "every school has at least a few children who can be classified as non-writers" (Aumack, 1985, p.46). Some children are often inhibited and "frustrated when they attempt to express themselves with pencil and paper'' (Aumack, 1985, p.46) and are put off by the thought of writing, erasing and rewriting, thus producing "children who do not want to write" (Aumack, 1985. p.46). In response to these statements, this qualitative study examined the effects of incorporating a word processor into a writing program. Seven students from a Year Three class participated in this study and were selected on the basis of convenience sampling from a split Year Three/Four class. The students undertook writing activities using both the word processor, and the more traditional method of pencil and paper, over the course of a six week period of investigation. The students were interviewed at the beginning and at the end of the investigation, using both conversational and standardised open-ended techniques, about their attitudes towards writing, attitudes towards the writing program currently employed in the classroom, and attitudes towards word processors. On going observations, anecdotal notes and tape recordings of conversations formed another gathering dimension. To assess the effects of incorporating a word processor in the writing program and on attitudes towards writing, the participating students' writing samples were evaluated using a standardised marking criteria (Tompkins, 1994) and the First Steps Writing Developmental Continuum ( 1994). The outcome of this study is a set of seven individual case studies describing the effects on seven Year Three students' writing when word processors were incorporated into their writing program. Some general themes that emerged are also included, such as the effect of being able to use pictures, the effect on keyboard skills, the effect on enjoyment and confidence and the effect on completion rates- did the students achieve more using the word processor?

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