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ETEC 500 - Article Critique #1

ETEC 500 - Article Critique #1

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Published by Camille Maydonik

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Published by: Camille Maydonik on Jul 16, 2010
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Running Head: INCORPORATING A WORD PROCESSOR 1Article Critique #1:The Effects of Incorporating a Word Processor Into a Year Three Writing Program Natalie Beck and Tony FetherstonCamille Maydonik 36428084ETEC 500 Research Methodologies in EducationInstructor: Dr. Clifford Falk University of British ColumbiaJune 13, 2010
INCORPORATING A WORD PROCESSOR 2Beck and Fetherston’s (2003) ethnographic, qualitative research study attempts todetermine if the use of word processing can assist the writing process with youngchildren, specifically seven Year Three students in Australia. Beck and Fetherston(2003) state that, “Learning to write in the primary classroom is essential if youngchildren are to become literate members of society” (p.140) and this argument forms the basis for the three research questions they investigate (p.144):1.
What attitudes do seven Year Three students possess in terms of writing and the writing program currently in place in their classroom?2.
What attitudes do seven Year Three students possess in relation to theuse of word processors and writing?3.
How is students’ writing development affected when word processorsare used?The study took place over a period of six weeks and the students, who wereselected through convenience sampling, were observed each morning participating in pencil and paper writing activities as well as using the word processor, more specifically,
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software. Beck and Fetherston (2003) completed a casestudy for each student in their study using interviews and observations as their mainresearch methodology.Beck and Fetherston (2003) conclude that their study proves that the use of word processing improves students’ writing overall and benefits their overall creativity andmotivation during writing activities. They report their results by answering the threeguiding research questions and present findings related to other results such as the effectof prior computing experience, keyboard skills, the use of pictures for writing, changes in
INCORPORATING A WORD PROCESSOR 3attitudes, completion rates, effect on enjoyment and confidence, effects on mechanics,neatness, creativity, time management, the software package and gender differences.Beck and Fetherston’s (2003) research is carried out according to acceptableresearch methods, presents a logical argument and is well organized, clear, and easy toread. However, there are some discrepancies. The most important term in their article is“word processor” and unfortunately they do not define it clearly and, furthermore,consider a software package to function in the same way. In addition, they use the termsinterchangeably, which has the potential to be confusing for their audience.While reading the article, a number of questions came to mind regardingsufficient evidence for Beck and Fetherston’s arguments and findings. First of all, because the group of students they observed was so small, I do not believe that their findings could be correlated to other similar groups of students in the western world.Secondly, I presume that the audience of their article would be other primary yearsteachers, such as myself. However, they do not present and refute opposing points of view, which had me wondering if there was an ulterior motive to the purpose of their study. These questions aside, this article helped me to understand the subject, studentsusing computers for writing.In conclusion, I believe that this article has the potential to be an importantcontribution to the field of primary years education. Beck and Fetherston’s (2003)statement, “A word processor, if implemented into the curriculum should not be usedmerely in isolation to perform unrelated tasks, or used as a reward tool” (p. 141) evokes aresponse from me in that technology, and word processors in this case, hold the potentialto be integrated into instruction in order to personalize student learning.

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