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A survey of 2,462 Advanced Placement (AP) and National Writing Project (NWP) teachers finds that digital technologies are shaping student writing in myriad ways and have also become helpful tools for teaching writing to middle and high school students.
Survey findings are complemented by insights from a series of online and in-person focus groups with middle and high school teachers and students in grades 9-12, conducted between November, 2011 and February, 2012.
This particular sample is quite diverse geographically, by subject matter taught, and by school size and community characteristics.
Moreover, 56% say digital tools make their students more likely to write well because they can revise their work easily.
While they see writing forms and styles expanding in the digital world, AP and NWP teachers continue to place tremendous value on “formal writing” and try to use digital tools to impart fundamental writing skills they feel students need.
At the same time, these findings are especially powerful given that these teachers’ observations and judgments emerge from some of the nation’s most advanced classrooms.
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In addition to the survey, Pew Internet conducted a series of online and offline focus groups with middle and high school teachers and some of their students and their voices are included in this report.In focus groups, these AP and NWP teachers shared some concerns and challenges they face teaching writing in today’s digital environment.Among them are: Asked to assess their students’ performance on nine specific writing skills, AP and NWP tended to rate their students “good” or “fair” as opposed to “excellent” or “very good.” Students were given the best ratings on their ability to “effectively organize and structure writing assignments” with 24% of teachers describing their students as “excellent” or “very good” in this area.Other teachers say they feel students do more active thinking, synthesizing, and editing when writing by hand, and writing by hand discourages any temptation to copy and paste others’ work. Virgin Islands, conducted between March 7 and April 23, 2012.These are among the main findings of an online survey of a non-probability sample of 2,462 middle and high school teachers currently teaching in the U. Some 1,750 of the teachers are drawn from a sample of advanced placement (AP) high school teachers, while the remaining 712 are from a sample of National Writing Project teachers.Students received similar ratings on their ability to “understand and consider multiple viewpoints on a particular topic or issue.” But ratings were less positive for synthesizing material into a cohesive piece of work, using appropriate tone and style, and constructing a strong argument.These AP and NWP teachers gave students the lowest ratings when it comes to “navigating issues of fair use and copyright in composition” and “reading and digesting long or complicated texts.” On both measures, more than two-thirds of these teachers rated students “fair” or “poor.” In addition to giving students low ratings on their understanding of fair use and copyright, a majority of AP and NWP teachers also say students are not performing well when it comes to “appropriately citing and/or referencing content” in their work.At the same time, they describe the unique challenges of teaching writing in the digital age, including the “creep” of informal style into formal writing assignments and the need to better educate students about issues such as plagiarism and fair use.Overall, these AP and NWP teachers see digital technologies benefitting student writing in several ways: The combined effect of these impacts, according to this group of AP and NWP teachers, is a greater investment among students in what they write and greater engagement in the writing process.In addition, 41% of AP and NWP teachers have students write weekly journal entries, and 78% had their students create a multimedia or mixed media piece in the academic year prior to the survey.Alongside the use of digital tools to promote better writing, almost all AP and NWP teachers surveyed say they encourage their students to do at least some writing by hand.