Date of Award

1996

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Education Honours

School

School of Education

Faculty

Faculty of Education

First Advisor

Dr Brian Moon

Abstract

The word processor would seem to have many positive applications to student writing in the English classroom. Writers working in the field (Chandler, 1987; Jenkins, 1989; Snyder, 1994) all agree that whether the technology is used as an editing aid to help poor hand writers and weak spellers get through the "grind" of writing, or as a dynamic tool which can be used as a new and exciting way of making meaning, its usefulness in subject English should not be overlooked. However, initial inquiries undertaken as part of this study, suggested that word processing technology had been largely ignored in West Australian government high schools. The aim of this Honours Thesis was to investigate the theoretical and practical issues that surround the use of word processors in secondary English classrooms. The goals of the research were: to establish a theoretically based rationale for the use of word processors in subject English; to assess the level of usage of the technology in West Australian secondary schools; and to consider the educational and social implications of this use or non-use. These research objectives have been met in two ways: through a critical discussion of the relevant literature on the subject, and through a survey of actual usage. The critical discussion draws upon current theoretical knowledge in the areas of writing pedagogy, literacy practices, and the discipline of English, to develop a rationale for the use of word processors. The survey of usage has provided information from 55 secondary schools (160 received questionnaires) throughout the state, with detailed observation and interviews carried out in two government and two non-government schools. This approach was employed to allow the large body of literature on word processors in English to be considered in the West Australian context. In summary, the study confirmed that word processor usage in West Australian English classrooms is minimal. The study also confirmed that there are systematic differences in the experiences of state and private schools in their use of word processors in English. The thesis provides those interested parties working in the area with a much needed overview of the extent to which word processors are being exploited in English in West Australian high schools.

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