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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Access, Digital Writing, and Achievement: The Data in Two Diverse School Districts

Published Web Location Commons 'BY-NC-ND' version 4.0 license

Students must compose texts using keyboards for college and career success. This study focuses on writing done in two school districts by students in Grades 4-11 on Google Docs to understand the relationships among digital device access, digital writing time, and standardized English language arts assessment scores. Our data cover three academic years: 2014-15, 2015-16, and 2016-17. We describe the amount of time spent writing in this mode and how it changed over grade levels and the relationship between Google Docs writing time and access to digital devices. Using fixed-effects regression, the amount of time spent writing digitally increased significantly during this time. Males and English learners spent fewer minutes writing in Google Docs compared to females and fluent English speakers. Students of color tended to spend more time writing in this mode than our White students. Device density (the number of school-provided digital devices per student) predicted the number of writing minutes in the first two, but not the third, years of our data. This study increases our foundational knowledge about the time spent by students on writing in this modality during a time in which these districts began to significantly adopt digital technology. 

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