Keyboard kids losing art of handwriting – Technology – theage.com.au

16/11/2011 22:22

Keyboard kids losing art of handwriting – Technology – theage.com.au

It’s interesting that an educational system that is intent on training children from an early age to rely on computers and technology, then turns around and demands that they complete the all defining , make or break, flourish or be devastated, (Yes, you picked it, not a fan of the HSC) series of tests in hand writing.   D

The disjunction between the acquired skill of keyboarding and the need to handwrite exams has led some schools to incorporate handwriting lessons in years 11 and 12 as students find they have to relearn the art of using a pen and paper quickly – lost after years of using computers, laptops and mobiles.

The senior English teacher at Barker College, on the North Shore, Sue Marks, says she has had top students forced to do remedial courses to get their handwriting legible enough for HSC examiners to read.

One US study of students in years seven and eight suggested “state paper and pencil tests may be underestimating the abilities of millions of students annually”.

The 2000 study noted one principal’s fears that students who wrote regularly on computers lost penmanship skills that might lead to lower scores on a new state test.

But another, earlier US study noted an odd phenomenon: that exam markers seemed to have higher expectations from word-processed essays than for handwritten ones. The hypothesis was that examiners were more inclined to expect a fully polished product when it was word-processed, and tended to forget they were reading drafts written under time pressure.

In a separate study, when handwritten exam papers were transcribed into typed scripts and the papers remarked, they received significantly lower scores than the original.

…..”The process of writing – whether it be by hand, or on a computer keyboard – is closely connected with the process of thinking. Research points to the fact that thoughts are generated, not merely recorded, through the process of writing. So my fear, in relation to the rise of abbreviated forms adopted by many when emailing, text messaging and instant messaging, is that the capacity for deep thinking, fostered through writing, will be eroded ….said it was not that writing using these technologies was inherently detrimental to deep thought. “In my view, as society becomes more and more dependent upon technology, it will become increasingly important for clear and cohesive writing to be taught in schools.

“If this is not the case we run the risk of students’ writing – and thinking – reflecting their text-messaging practices and becoming little more than a series of truncated ideas. Many of today’s students are quite capable of sophisticated thought, but as grab-bites become the norm in modern communication technologies, it is vital that the skills involved in producing thoughtful, developed compositions, reflective of higher order thinking, are fostered in our schools.”

It is a view shared by Roslyn Arnold, honorary professor of education and social work at the University of Sydney, whose original PhD was on school children’s writing development. Professor Arnold argues that it is the act of writing that actually creates, not simply reflects, thought.

“Your hand starts to kill after a while in exams,” she says.

“I’m so used to writing in exams, but it would be good if something like that [computer-based exams] came up.”Some students have gone to the extent of attaching batteries to their pens, under the misguided belief the it would strengthen their wrists and allow them to write faster?

Tess Michaels