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To fit in with the time constraints of the study and the desired cognitive load, the article was shortened and divided into four sections theoretical background, methods, results, discussion. Each section was reduced to around words. Abstract, keywords, and title were omitted.

Handwriting vs typing: is the pen still mightier than the keyboard?

In the deliberate practice phase, the participants used prompt cards according to their treatment, each reflecting a different strategy: 1 text structure knowledge application strategy, 2 text summarization strategy, and 3 self-monitoring strategy. In all learning journals, the peer model explained how she coped with the challenge of writing her Bachelor thesis.

More precisely, she described what she wanted to do, how she did it, which conclusions she reached, and which tricks she learned. Finally, for each strategy, she offered the following prompts for mastering the writing strategy:.

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The learning journal text structure knowledge application strategy focused on the use of text structure knowledge: 1 How is an empirical article structured? Furthermore, conventions of language use in empirical articles and abstracts were described. The learning journal text summarization strategy focused on selecting and assigning text information: 1 What is the main proposition of the text?

The learning journal self-monitoring strategy focused on checking the writing process: 1 Did I select and assign all relevant information corresponding to the text structure? In order to measure how the participants fulfill the requirements of academic writing competence, we developed an academic writing skills test corresponding to the task analysis presented in the theoretical background.

We developed 19 items according to the main aspects of academic writing skills. As mentioned in the theoretical background, academic writing skills comprise, among other things, text structure knowledge factual knowledge , application of text structure knowledge, and reduction of text content with respect to completeness and correctness both procedural knowledge. The items were assigned to one of three subscales which cover three aspects of academic writing: 1 text structure knowledge as factual knowledge 5 items , 2 application of text structure knowledge six items , and 3 reduction of text content with respect to completeness and correctness as procedural knowledge eight items.

To test their text structure knowledge, the participants were asked, for example, to correctly arrange text section titles of an empirical article, i. To test their skill in the application of text structure knowledge, they were asked to assign typical phrases to text sections such as methods or discussion, and to give reasons for their decision. To test their skill in reducing text content with respect to correctness and completeness, they were asked, for instance, to name four keywords to adequately express the message of a text.


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We subsequently revised the items taking into account the criticisms expressed by the pilot study participants in the interview after the pilot study. Disagreement was resolved by discussion in all cases. Two experienced researchers who have published and reviewed over many years assigned the 19 items to one of the three contexts text structure knowledge, application of text structure knowledge, and reduction of text content with respect to completeness and correctness.

The writing quality was measured three times during the writing process. The first measurement time point was the summarization of the text sections of the presented empirical article, the second was the revision of the summarized text, and the third was the finalization of the intended abstract of the presented text sections of the original empirical article.

Two project research assistants who were familiar with the affordances of academic writing received about 4 h of training on the quality rating scale. Training included practicing making the respective judgment and discussing six cases. To calculate the interrater reliability, 20 abstracts were selected. The pretest of academic writing skills consisted of 10 items assessing text structure knowledge, application of text structure knowledge, and reduction of text content with respect to correctness and completeness.

As all participants were undergraduates in psychology, mainly freshmen, they had no experience with academic writing. For this reason, we refrained from assessing writing quality as a baseline value. The posttest of academic writing skills consisted of two parts: The first comprised all 19 items which capture text structure knowledge, application of text structure knowledge, and reduction of text content with respect to correctness and completeness as subscales.

All items were evaluated as right or wrong. All subscales were equally weighted. The second part consisted of the writing quality of the written abstract. Both parts were equally weighted. We used the Questionnaire on Current Motivation Vollmeyer and Rheinberg, to measure how motivated the participants are to develop their academic writing competence.

We deleted one item of the subscale anxiety, which did not seem to be appropriate to the research content of our study. From the subscales interest and anxiety, one item in each was reformulated to better match the sample and the research content of our study. The participants were asked to estimate their current motivation in relation to their academic writing development.

They rated each written description on a 7-point scale from 1 not true to 7 true. The scale was administered before the modeling phase. We followed the guide for constructing self-efficacy scales Bandura, to construct a self-efficacy scale focusing on academic writing.

In this regard, we took into account the main aspects of our intervention, i. We used this scale to check the responsiveness to the treatment. For all statistical analyses, an alpha level of 0. Table 2 shows the means and standard deviations for the pretest and posttest in each condition. The short scales used in the pretest also revealed no significant differences between conditions. The average pretest percentage in the three conditions ranged from With respect to the subscales of the pretest, the average scores ranged from These results indicate that the participants had only sparse knowledge about text structure and its application, but quite good knowledge regarding text summarization.

In hypothesis 1, we assumed that additional training of a self-monitoring strategy fosters the acquisition of academic writing skills more than additional training of a summarization strategy or no additional training. We furthermore assumed that the third variables, i. This result indicates that combined training of cognitive and metacognitive strategies, in the present case the application of text structure knowledge strategy and self-monitoring strategy, is more effective for the acquisition of academic writing skills than training of only single or two combined cognitive strategies.

In hypothesis 2, we assumed that additional training of a self-monitoring strategy fosters the text quality more than additional training of a summarization strategy or no additional training. This result indicates that combined training of cognitive and metacognitive strategies, in the present case the application of text structure knowledge strategy and self-monitoring strategy, is more effective for the abstract quality than training of only single or two combined cognitive strategies.

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Furthermore, the results underline the influence of text revising for improving text quality. Academic writing is a challenging task — not only for beginners. In this experimental study, we investigated the effectiveness of the combined training of a cognitive writing strategy and a metacognitive writing strategy, against combined training with two cognitive writing strategies and training of cognitive writing strategy alone on the acquisition of academic writing skills and on abstract quality.

To this aim, in the training interventions, we combined a basic cognitive writing strategy concerning text structure with either a cognitive writing strategy on summarization or a metacognitive writing strategy on self-monitoring. Concerning the acquisition of academic writing skills , we found that learners do not benefit more from training with two strategies than from training with one strategy.

However, it is not a trivial finding. Although one might assume that two strategies would be more beneficial than one, research on the role of working memory in writing development McCutchen, ; Paz, ; Kellogg et al. It is rather the case that the training which combined the cognitive strategy with a metacognitive strategy was most effective for the acquisition of academic writing skills.

This result is in line with previous research Veenman and Beishuizen, Concerning the writing quality , we found that the group which received additional training on self-monitoring the writing process outperformed the group which received additional training on summarization and the group which did not receive any additional training. We additionally found that the revision process supported with the self-monitoring strategy improved writing quality. The process of revising and evaluating the text written so far was found to be a promising means to enhance text quality Van den Bergh et al.

In a recent review of research on writing revision MacArthur could define revision as a problem solving process for detecting discrepancies between actual and intended level of text quality and the consideration of alternatives. The self-monitoring strategy training that we implemented in this study drew attention on these differences as it focused on preparation of the writing process and generating the text in a recursive manner.

With prompt cards we supported the detection of the problems which arise while writing and invited for problem correction. Problem detection and problem correction are subprocesses of the revision process Hayes, Hence, this finding confirms that revision is important for improving writing quality. For both research questions we found that learners benefit from the combination of cognitive and metacognitive strategies.

Cognitive and metacognitive processes are involved in the writing process Hayes and Flower, ; Hayes, : self-monitoring controls planning, translating, and reviewing the writing process. As metacognitive strategies and cognitive strategies alternate Pintrich et al. Furthermore, the use of metacognitive strategies facilitates the adaptation of cognitive writing strategies in order to deal with writing deficits Boekaerts, Thus, the combination of the two seems to be effective in fostering the academic writing. We could confirm this assumption with our findings concerning both acquisition of writing skills and writing quality.

In general, our results confirm that psychology undergraduates are in need of support in academic writing. First, they need to be prepared to know and apply the text structure of the most important genre in their community, the empirical article. Second, they need to learn, apply, and broaden metacognitive strategies in order to master academic demands in writing. With respect to these two concerns, training of text structure knowledge application in combination with self-monitoring of the writing process showed significant effects in our short-time intervention.

From these findings, it can be derived that success would be much greater if such training were to be implemented in the curriculum. Self-regulated strategy development offers a collection of best teaching practices for teachers to support their students effectively. It provides supportive instruction on how to start writing and how to master each writing step. These practices have been tested in primary and high schools Graham et al. MacArthur et al. With their results — positive effects on writing quality and length of persuasive essays, positive effects on self-efficacy and motivation — they were able to confirm the effectiveness of SRSD also at the college level.

Taking together the findings from MacArthur et al. It might be assumed that if writing courses were offered, students would feel encouraged to develop their writing skills, and would need to keep trying to do so if such courses were mandatory. In higher education, self-regulation is becoming increasingly crucial for study success. E-learning can provide the opportunity to work on a learning program in an independent and self-regulated manner; therefore, it seems an appropriate means with which to offer writing courses for students in higher education.

We hope that our research provides a promising step toward a computer-based approach to writing intervention in higher education. Our research is limited by several aspects. As writing is a complex process, training can only apply single aspects at a time. Although we investigated promising strategies for writing development in higher education, there are further possible strategies, such as sentence-combining strategies see Kellogg and Whiteford, Furthermore, the instruments developed for this study need further refinement.

Another limitation is that we did not control the use of the prompt cards. Finally, as the participants were primarily female psychology undergraduates, the generalizability of the results to other groups is limited. Further research into the promising idea of combining text structure knowledge application strategies and self-monitoring strategies is needed.

Collaboration with peer students is recommended for improving writing skills Zimmerman and Kitsantas, ; Kellogg and Whiteford, ; Schriver, for multiple reasons: As negotiating, questioning, and explaining to learners help them to develop awareness of how to use their strategies effectively, collaboration can support learners in dealing critically with the challenges of the writing task Englert et al. Joint regulation between peers can help to reduce the cognitive load of processing, as the load is shared Topping and Ehly, ; Kirschner et al.

Collaboration can positively affect the revision of text products Van Steendam et al. Future research should implement this type of training in the curriculum. In a longitudinal study, the writing training can be used to help students to consolidate their writing knowledge and use of writing strategies.

Furthermore, a longitudinal study employing repeated writing practice with feedback for revision would also support the acquisition of writing skills, thus fostering writing quality. Over time, students can then elaborate their skills and gain a deeper understanding of which skills should be used, when, and why. Finally, future research should include participants who are more heterogeneous with respect to gender and writing expertise.

All recommendations for future research should consider an e-learning approach. We were able to show that the writing training interventions applied in our study were effective, even though we provided only a small amount of time. Our findings confirm the importance of applying metacognitive strategies in higher education Flavell, ; Glaser, ; Veenman and Beishuizen, In addition, our findings suggest that combining the cognitive strategy of text structure knowledge application with the metacognitive strategy of self-monitoring supports the development of academic writing in higher education.

We believe that our study contributes to the understanding of how combined strategies can work for novice academic writers. The author confirms being the sole contributor of this work and approved it for publication. The author declares that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.

I especially thank Eva Ryschka for assisting in conducting this study. Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. Google Scholar. Adams, P. The accelerated learning program: throwing open the gates. Basic Writ. Bandura, A. Self-Efficacy: The Exercise of Control. New York: Freeman. Pajares and T. Bereiter, C. The Psychology of Written Composition. Boekaerts, M. Self-regulated learning: where we are today. Braaksma, M.

Observational learning and the effects of model-observer similarity. What observational learning in writing courses entails: a multiple case study. L1 Educ. Literature 6, 31— Brown, A. Macrorules for summarizing texts: the development of expertise. Bryson, M. Fostering reflectivity in the argumentive thinking of students with different learning histories.

Butler, D. Feedback and self-regulated learning: a theoretical synthesis. Chang, K. The effect of concept mapping to enhance text comprehension and summarization. Cho, K. Self-monitoring support for learning to write. Commenting on writing typology and perceived helpfulness of comments from novice peer reviewers and subject matter experts.

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    Outline History Subfields. Psychology portal. Topics Brain regions Clinical neuropsychology Cognitive neuropsychology Cognitive neuroscience Dementia Human brain Neuroanatomy Neurophysiology Neuropsychological assessment Neuropsychological rehabilitation Traumatic brain injury. People Alan Baddeley Arthur L. Of course, everyone needs to be able to write without computers, but longhand printing generally works fine […] Print is clearer and easier to read than script. Some states, such as Indiana, have decided to go on teaching cursive writing in school. Without this skill, they assert, young Americans will no longer be able to read birthday cards from their grandparents, comments by teachers on their assignments or the original, handwritten text of the constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

    This minor revolution is causing quite a stir but it is by no means the first of its kind. Ever since writing was most likely first invented, in Mesopotamia in about BC, it has been through plenty of technological upheavals. The tools and media used for writing have changed many times: from Sumerian tablets to the Phoenician alphabet of the first millennium BC; from the invention of paper in China about 1, years later to the first codex, with its handwritten sheets bound together to make a book; from the invention of printing in the 15th century to the appearance of ballpoint pens in the s.

    So at first sight the battle between keyboards and pens might seem to be no more than the latest twist in a very long story, yet another new tool that we will end up getting used to. What really matters is not how we produce a text but its quality, we are often told. When we are reading, few of us wonder whether a text was written by hand or word-processed. But experts on writing do not agree: pens and keyboards bring into play very different cognitive processes.

    Operating a keyboard is not the same at all: all you have to do is press the right key. It is easy enough for children to learn very fast, but above all the movement is exactly the same whatever the letter. Furthermore pens and keyboards use very different media.

    Paper allows much greater graphic freedom: you can write on either side, keep to set margins or not, superimpose lines or distort them. There is nothing to make you follow a set pattern. It has three dimensions too, so it can be folded, cut out, stapled or glued. An electronic text does not leave the same mark as its handwritten counterpart either. Words crossed out or corrected, bits scribbled in the margin and later additions are there for good, leaving a visual and tactile record of your work and its creative stages.

    But does all this really change our relation to reading and writing? The advocates of digital documents are convinced it makes no difference. It allows us to go faster, not because we want everything faster in our hyped-up age, but for the opposite reason: we want more time to think.