The Effects of the Internet on Students' Essay Scores

Doan, Ngan Kim, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Hansen, Jane, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Ferree, Ruth M., Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Fan, Xitao, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Bloomfield, Aaron S., Department of Computer Science, University of Virginia

The Internet, and in particular the World Wide Web (WWW), has been promoted as a useful learning tool for schools, teachers, and students alike. While many articles exist to promote its pedagogical usages in the K-12 classroom, no empirical study currently exists to document its effects on students' essay writings. Via experimental group design, this study examined how the allowance of 30 minutes of search time on the Web affects upper elementary students' essay scores in their response to a standards-based writing prompt.

Essays were obtained from 49 fourthand fifth-grade students enrolled in an elementary school in Virginia. Students were placed by random assignment into three groups with the same writing prompts for all three groups. The three groups were: 1) the control group-students who received standard administration testing procedures in which they receive the writing prompt and a total of 90 minutes to plan and write, 2) students who received the writing prompt, 30 minutes to browse the Internet, and 60 minutes to write, and 3) students who received three 45-minute lessons on how to use the Internet. Then, on their test day, these students received the writing prompt, 30 minutes to browse the Internet, and 60 minutes to write.

Two preservice teachers from the local school of education scored the essays in four areas: composing, written expression, usage/mechanics, and the total essay score. Data analyses using ANOVA indicate that there was no statistical significance when students who used the Internet without instruction (Group II) were compared to the control group (Group I). Statistically significant results did appear when Group I was compared to Group III, the group that received instruction on using the Internet. Group III outperformed the control group in two areas: the total essay score (p=.053) and usage/mechanics (p=.028).

Using Cohen's dto calculate effect sizes for Total Essay Score, Group II obtained an effect size of .406, Group III obtained an effect size of .827, and Group W (both Groups II and III) obtained an effect size of .570 when compared to the control group. Effect sizes in the subcomponents of writing (composing, written expression, and usage/ mechanics) were also observed. These findings imply that students will produce a better essay when they use the Internet to search for information during the writing process. Implications for schools, teachers, students, and society are also discussed.

Note: Abstract extracted from PDF file via OCR.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Digitization of this thesis was made possible by a generous grant from the Jefferson Trust, 2015.

Thesis originally deposited on 2016-02-19 in version 1.28 of Libra. This thesis was migrated to Libra2 on 2017-03-23 16:37:49.

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