From Keystrokes to Achievement Scores: The Main, Mediating, and Moderating Effects of Computer Use on Writing

Principal Investigator: Mark Warschauer
Co-Investigators: Jamal Abedi
Graduate Student Researcher: Tamara Tate 

Funding: Spencer Foundation

Duration: 2015-2016

Project Description

With most professional and academic writing now taking place via computer, and new standardized tests also transitioning from print to screen, it is important to better understand how technology use affects writing. A rich data set for investigating this is available from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) 2011 writing assessment, the first such assessment conducted on computers. NAEP recently released restricted data from this assessment, including detailed keystroke data on student use of the computer during the test, as well as teacher and student survey responses relating to prior use of computers for teaching, learning, and writing both in and out of school. 

Dr. Warschauer and his colleagues are analyzing these data for over 24,000 eighth-grade students who took this test, examining 

  1. the effect of prior computer use on writing achievement scores; 
  2. the effect of computer use during the assessment on writing achievement scores;
  3. the relationship between prior computer use and computer use during the assessment in impacting achievement scores; and
  4. whether any of these effects or relationships differ according to students’ demographic background.

The findings will inform policy and practice in educational technology, writing pedagogy, and student assessment.