Students do worse on online writing test

Oregon middle school students earn lower writing scores when they take the test online instead on paper, AP reports, even though “the tests used the same prompts and were identical.”

Students said they had trouble proofreading on the screen; they’re used to printing out a draft to proofread it.  In addition, students are used to using programs that check their spelling and grammar.  “They’ve never used (a computer) that didn’t have that,” said Mark Molner, who teaches writing at Bend High. Students also said they slow down and write more thoughtfully on paper.

Molner thinks that while spell-check may make some students less inclined to proofread, it is a tool that is here to stay.

“It is going to exist on every computer they’re going to use,” he said. “People make the same argument about calculators and computation errors.

Instant messaging and texting are eroding basic skills, complains Bend High writing teacher Nikki Baird. She’s forced to reteach capitalization and punctuation skills that should have been learned in elementary school. In class, her students write with paper and pencil, just like in the old days.

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  1. I’ve gotten students, over the past few years, who are – honestly – functionally illiterate. The grammar and spelling are so bad, that I can’t make out what they have written. Even if I get a translation of the words, the word order and structure are so deficient, it doesn’t make sense.

    I was in a workshop where writing across the curriculum was taught. One of the strategies that was taught was to have the students read their in-progress work aloud to a partner. When they hear what they have written, many of them become aware that what they wrote down doesn’t make any sense.

  2. I hate hate hate writing with paper and pencil! Writing with a pencil physically hurts, as well as being so darned slow! That’s why I grew up never doing rough drafts–my first draft was always turned in because there was no way in Hell that I was going through that torture again.

    I adore the age of the word processor. I can edit my thoughts, rearrange whole paragraphs, and see my words in print, whether on the screen or on paper, during the process.

    I hated using a pencil (or ballpoint) so much that I started using a fountain pen in high school, including for math assignments. Still slow, but at least it doesn’t physically hurt the same way that pencils and ballpoint pens do.

  3. Different strokes for different folks. I often compose things on actual paper, and my edits often create a palimpsest of arrows, lines, insertions, and annotations. But that’s just how I need to write some times.


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