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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Word processors and the teaching of written composition : a study of high school English teachers’ attitudes, perceptions, and experiences Crescenzi, Patrizia


In 1989, Herrmann reported that the lack of computer use in schools is not because the schools are not purchasing computers, but because computers "...in classes, such as English, ... are not being used as effectively as they might be" (p. 112). Thus, this current thesis is a relational study that sought to understand how high school English teachers' attitudes towards, perceptions of, and experiences with computers affected their reported implementation of word processors in the teaching of written composition. The findings of this study were based on the results of 52 surveys completed by high school English teachers teaching in a large urban centre. The survey was a combination of multiple-choice, Likert-scale, and open-ended questions and the data were analysed to note relationships between and trends among variables. Ninety percent of the respondents reported spending no time teaching written composition with a word processor, and only 3% of the respondents said they felt confident in their ability to integrate computers into the teaching of written composition. Further data analysis indicated that these teachers exhibited varying and conflicting attitudes, perceptions, and experiences. Teachers' "Readiness to Implement" (i.e., their willingness to receive word processors in the classroom and some self-reports of present computer-related practices) produced the strongest correlation with "Current Practice" (e.g., teaching the writing process and using the word processor to teach pre-writing, drafting, revising, and editing), while "Attitude," "Perception," and "Professional Development Experience" showed limited and localized effects (correlating with some gender, age, or years of experience groups and not others). Consistent with the findings of previous studies, only negligible differences were noted between male and female respondents. However, the two respondents over the age of 60 scored higher (M =4.4) on the "Attitude" scale than their junior colleagues, and the one respondent with 0-1 year of experience scored lower (M = 2.0) than her colleagues with more English-Language Arts teaching experience. Respondents in this study reported a limited amount of access to computer labs and a weak infrastructure for supporting implementation.

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