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Prior technology exposure, keyboard/mouse activity, and writing achievement: Analysis of the 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress writing assessment

  • Author(s): Tate, Tamara Powell
  • Advisor(s): Warschauer, Mark
  • et al.
Abstract

Given the importance of digital writing in the workforce and in academia (DeVoss, Eidman-Aardahl, & Hicks, 2010), students need to be able to communicate in the normative modality (Bazerman, 2012; Leu et al., 2014). It is critical to expand our understanding about technology exposure and keyboard activity and their relations to writing skills. This 3-part dissertation brings together my work analyzing the first national digital writing assessment, the 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Using data from over 24,100 eighth grade students, I analyzed the teacher and student reports of prior technology use of various types, specific keyboard and mouse activity during the writing assessment, and the paths through which these factors may relate to writing achievement on the test.

Study one looked primarily at the relationship between teacher and student reports of prior technology use and student writing achievement. We showed that use of technology for school-related purposes predicted increased writing achievement. We also found that use of technology for personal purposes, writing emails, blogging, etc., did not predict improved (or reduced) writing achievement. Study two looked at the relationship between the actual keyboard and mouse activity of students during the assessment and their writing achievement. Not only were we able to show that students who write more (both words and keystrokes) predicted higher achievement outcomes, but for the first time we were able to gather descriptive information about how often students use editing tools (hardly at all) and begin to use datamining techniques like cluster analysis to look at whether students exhibited different patterns of keystroke and editing feature usage and how these patterns related to both writing achievement and prior use. In study three, we put the information from the prior studies together and modeled the relationship among all three of our variables of interest: prior technology exposure, keyboard and mouse activity during the assessment, and writing achievement scores. We found evidence that not only did prior technology exposure have the expected impact on students’ keyboarding activity during the writing assessment, but that it had an independent effect on writing achievement over and above the transcription-level keyboarding effect.

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