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The effect of word-processing experience on editing while composing Pearce, Richard William


This study investigated the implications of using computers in the writing process. The purpose was to determine whether there was a difference between two groups in their editing and revising techniques and their attitude towards writing. It was hypothesized that students who had had three years experience with computer writing would use more sophisticated forms of editing and would feel more positive toward writing than those students who had only a single year of writing with the computer. Two groups of seventh-grade students were identified: the One-year Group consisted of students who had one year of keyboard training and one year of experience with a word processor; the Three-year Group consisted of students who had a minimum of three years of keyboard training and a minimum of three years experience with a word processor. The students had all attended schools within the same district for the past three years. A group of grade-six students were trained as observers. They were given two training sessions, first observing a videotape and then observing another student. About 150 students were trained and the best 60 were used to observe the grade sevens for the study. Each writing group spent one forty-minute period composing an essay on the computer while being observed by the grade-six students. The observers tallied the editing and revising actions that were employed by the two writing groups. The editing activities of the two groups were compared. The grade-seven students were also given a writing opinion survey. Both groups had a positive attitude but there was no significant difference in their attitude toward writing. Three levels of editing are normally discerned (Kurth and Stromberg, 1987; Hillocks, 1987): surface, lexical, and phrase/sentence. The One-year Group made significantly more typing corrections but there was no difference in overall surface editing. The Three-year group did significantly more lexical and phrase/sentence editing. In this way, students with more word-processing experience exhibit an editing style that is characteristic of better writers.

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