The pen may be mightier than the keyboard

Silly headline, from a University of Washington press release.

Second, fourth and sixth grade children with and without handwriting disabilities were able to write more and faster when using a pen than a keyboard to compose essays, according to new research.

The study, headed by Virginia Berninger, a University of Washington professor of educational psychology who studies normal writing development and writing disabilities, looked at children’s ability to write the alphabet, sentences and essays using a pen and a keyboard.

“Children consistently did better writing with a pen when they wrote essays. They wrote more and they wrote faster.” said Berninger.

3 thoughts on “The pen may be mightier than the keyboard

  1. Being in the school systems as a substitute, I can almost promise you that by high school, penmanship is no longer graded in many classrooms. Having students hand-write essays is the worst thing you can make them do anymore! While it’s great that we have these different technologies, it’s becoming more apparent that basic writing and spelling skills are getting thrown to the wind! I love having my phone on me, at all times. I use it to talk to people as well as jot down random ideas, as was suggested to us in class, but I feel there is something to be said for the ability to write with a pen paper. After eight or more hours at my laptop, I crave the feeling of a book or a pen because I am truly tired of my computer. While I know this is not the case for most people, I think there’s something essential in hand writing an essay for class.

  2. I recall reading that the time that used to be saved for handwriting instruction is typically shared with keyboarding skills.
    I know that when my son (age 11) types, he used to get frustrated by the red lines from the spell-checker. When I turned it off, he was much more comfortable typing. Proofreading is a different skill, and it’s difficult to phase-shift between exploration and proofreading, even if you’re an experienced writer.
    This term I’ve repeatedly suggested that students try using the thumb keyboards on their phones for brainstorming; my theory is that whatever method helps them get the ideas out of their brain and into some record will help their writing process.

  3. I wonder if students are still graded on ‘penmanship’ — and if ‘key proficiency’ would be the analogue for today. I got poor grades for penmanship (and still do from my students!), so I made up for it in my typing skills. Now I use those skills for a living!

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