Testing Writing on Computers

Michael Russell, Walt Haney


Computer use has grown rapidly during the past decade. Within the educational community, interest in authentic assessment has also increased. To enhance the authenticity of tests of writing, as well as of other knowledge and skills, some assessments require students to respond in written form via paper-and-pencil. However, as increasing numbers of students grow accustomed to writing on computers, these assessments may yield underestimates of students' writing abilities. This article presents the findings of a small study examining the effect that mode of administration -- computer versus paper-and-pencil -- has on middle school students' performance on multiple-choice and written test questions. Findings show that, though multiple-choice test results do not differ much by mode of administration, for students accustomed to writing on computer, responses written on computer are substantially higher than those written by hand (effect size of 0.9 and relative success rates of 67% versus 30%). Implications are discussed in terms of both future research and test validity.


Computer Assisted Testing; Essay Tests; Middle School Students; Middle Schools; Multiple Choice Tests; Performance Factors; Test Format; Test Results; Testing Problems

Full Text:


DOI: https://doi.org/10.14507/epaa.v5n3.1997

Article Metrics

Metrics Loading ...

Metrics powered by PLOS ALM

Copyright (c) 2019 Michael Russell, Walt Haney


Contact EPAA//AAPE at Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College