Mixed reactions have since emerged in researches conducted to identify the effects of word processing programs and computer writing software on students’ writing capabilities. Some studies have shown positive effects towards the use of computer word processing programs. On the other hand, others have indicated barely minimal difference in cases where the programs or software are used by students (Swan 4). This paper will in effect establish if word processing programs and computer skill can either sharpen or even weaken college student’s writing skills.
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Today, computer word processing programs have eased the editing process of correcting spelling mistakes, grammatical mistakes and sentence punctuations. Some latest word processors are even able put in text citations on student research papers Similarly, computer writing software are able to correct the mistakes and check for plagiarism of researched work. The advantages that come with word processors and these computer writing software would therefore definitely outweigh the negative impacts on students’ writing capabilities.
Among the disadvantages of word processing programs and writing software that weaken students’ knowledge in writing are; first, the word processing increases the likelihood of certain spelling errors (Noel 106). Word processors causes unwanted modifications while spellchecking some errors leading to some misspelt words or confused words (Noel 106). In relation that, students often believe word processors are always correct in spelling hence leaning more erroneous spellings from them. This in turn leads to more students having a lot of spelling errors in their typed or written work.
Secondly, computers tempt to substitute a person’s writing for thinking. The whole essence of writing is to make sense to a particular audience with a particular intension (Grow 218). As Grow observes;
When they write with a computer, instead of rethinking their drafts for purpose, audience, content, strategy, and effectiveness, most untrained writers just keep editing the words they first wrote down (p.219).
This results college students handing in write-ups which do not make sense or with no proper flow of ideas.
Another disadvantage is that word processors in computers enhances more of collaborative writing (Grow 218). In a collaborative writing, different write may not have the same ideas about tone, punctuation or even rhythm of their sentences. In that case, a computer collaborative write up by college students often do not make much meaning due to variations on how different writers put down their point (Ling 25). The result is a write up with minimal flow of ideas from one writer to the other which limits students from expressing their writing skills in group work which require a collaborative writing.
One of the limiting factors about word processors is that it becomes very difficult for writers to get an overview of their work (Grow 220). This is because word processors barely display more than twenty four lines of words at an instant. This creates a no clear sense of directions hence writers end up with partially expressed ideas or recurrence of ideas.
While the use of word processors produces a well presented write ups, it limits the students’ ability to improve on their hand written work. The emergence of computer era has affected greatly students’ handwriting. Students today are used to typing their work on computers rather than putting them on pen and paper, the results is a poorly presented hand written work. (Ling 76). Hand writing is very important for student in putting across a hand written idea. Hence a write up not well written limits student writing capability.
On the other hand, the only mentionable disadvantage of computer writing softwares is that, existence of various softwares does not have a substandard grading system on students’ writing capability. The result to unbalance student self-evaluation. (Ling 76). Students often focus on the software evaluation for their writing forgetting that the software have their limitations as far as writing is concerned. The result is a student generation with minimal writing skills.
Using computers in class is beneficial since students who have mustered their computer keys are able to write their work pretty fast compared to a work which is being hand written by paper and pen (Hamel 1). The idea in this fact is buyable because in evaluating students writing skills, speed with accuracy is an element which is always considered. Thus a student is able to hand in a correct write up with minimal mistakes at a short time.
Another advantage about a computer is that each keystroke corresponds to a particular letter (Graham 6). Considering the fact that a computer displays letters dialed on the screen, it can therefore be credited with correct spellings of words. Therefore, a college student who definitely has undergone preliminary childhood education could easily notice a spelling mistake and correct it through a word program document. This is unlike the hand written job where one could easily do a lot of spelling mistakes. The result is improved writing skills due to mastery of good spellings (Ling 123).
Computer word processing guarantees student a write-up which is easy to revise, and add ideas or remove vague statements. (Graham 6). This often encourage writers to do more writing unlike hand written work where once a mistake is done then the whole document has to be rewritten. The ease with which writers can write different varieties of job with fewer discouragements improves writing skills.
Computer word processing improves students’ interactivity to the subject matter of the writing (Hamel 1). The fact that word processing program indicates when there is a problem with grammar, sentence structure and spelling mistakes by underlining where there is a problem, encourages the student to get more involved into the writing by doing his researches properly to avoid such mistakes. Mistakes corrected often stick in the mind of the student therefore improving his writing skills (Hamel 1).
Another benefit of word processing is an easy organization of work.(Hamel 1) Word processing software is connected to other electronic sources such as the grammar and plagiarism checkers which are online (Graham 7). The checkers dig deeper into the details of the work to include checks on flows of ideas in relation to other people’s work. The result is therefore a more organized work from students.
Relation to these, computer writing software have also greatly impacted on the way college students write today. According to Fang, a research conducted aimed to investigate the perception of a computer assisted writing program among EFL College learners indicated that;
Majority of students held favorable attitudes towards using MyAccess as a writing tool, but were less positive concerning its use as an essay grading tool. Evidence obtained from a multiple choice question in the survey showed that a majority of the students benefited by using the computer-mediated feedback to revise their essays. Moreover, interview data revealed that the computer-mediated feedback had a positive effect on writing skill development, particularly in suggesting changes for form rather than for content. Finally, eight of the nine interview participants suggested that MyAccess could be utilized in future writing (p.246).
From this research, it is clear that computer assisted programs have become more beneficial to learners writing development. Researchers currently emphasize the use of computer aided writing in learning of second language (Fang 247). This is because the editor function in this software improves vocabulary, word usage, sentences structuring and spelling (Fang 252). On the other hand, the tutor function on this program is as well useful correction of grammar (Fang 247). This is an indication that these softwares improve students writing capabilities.
Another advantage of this is that the automated grading system accompanied by this software helps students evaluate their writing development very easily on their own (Fang 252). The fact that a student can write and do self-evaluation by his score on writing, improves a student writing skills because he is able to constantly gauge his level of writing at any particular moment.
In summary, the advantages that come along with word processing program such as grammar correction, proper sentence structuring, and students’ interactivity among others outweigh the disadvantages that the program imposes on students’ writing development. On the other hand, writing software carries along more advantage of student self-evaluation that makes it more reliable on sharpening students’ writing capabilities.
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Grow, Gerald. How Computers Cause Bad Writing. (2005)Vol. 39, No. 2. 217-220. < http://www.longleaf.net/ggrow/computerbad.html>.
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