Writing productivity of learning disabled students: the effects of using a word processing program

Sapona, Regina Helen, Department of Education, University of Virginia
Schiffman, Shirl S., Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Wallace, Gerald, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Hallahan, Daniel, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Ball, Donald, Department of Educational Studies, University of Virginia

Statement of the Problem:

The present study will examine the writing productivity who use a processing program to complete writing assignments. Because productivity and the generation of ideas is sometimes difficult for learning disabled students, the impact of the word processing program will be examined in terms of effects on discrete, measurable units of a writing sample.

This study will provide information for teachers as well as provide a basis for future research. The primary focus will be on the use of a word processing program as a writing tool for students. If the use of a computer yields increases in writing productivity for learning disabled students, this intervention (provision of a writing tool without specific modifications in the writing curriculum) could easily be implemented in the special education classroom. Another important outcome might be the increase in the amount of time spent on writing activities, particularly if this intervention required little teacher direction. However, if student writing productivity does not increase significantly, a stronger intervention might be necessary. For example, teachers might need to provide instruction on monitoring for errors or the revision process. Also, writing programs which provide structure in the form of prompts might be appropriate.

Finally, this study will not examine global changes in the quality of compositions resulting from the intervention. Such changes in quality are difficult to measure, often relying on holistic scoring of students' writing (Cooper, 1977). This typically involves the development of rating criteria, ranking student compositions, and specific training to obtain a high degree of reliability is needed. While this question warrants investigation, it is beyond the scope of this study. It should be noted, however, that measures of vocabulary diversity and freedom from spelling errors contributes to the greatest amount of variance in quality ratings of teachers (Grobe, 1981). Such measures will be obtained as part of this study. Specific measures such as length of sentences, number of words, and number of errors in capitalization will be used as primary measures of change in writing. Future investigations might focus on the examination of the qualitative changes in writing, or the instruction in monitoring writing for errors in syntax, organization, and content.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Learning disabled children, English language--Study and teaching (Elementary), English language--Study and teaching--Audio-visual aids
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