Effects of electronic outlining on students’ argumentative writing performance

  • Hein Broekkamp (Speaker)
  • Milou de Smet (Speaker)
  • Brand - Gruwel, S. (Speaker)
  • Paul Kirschner (Speaker)

    Activity: Talk or presentation typesTalk or presentation (not at a conference)Academic


    Writing is an important competence in a knowledge-driven society. Education therefore devotes much attention to its development. Students’ writing skills may be further increased when they make use of widely available word processors and profit from the tools incorporated in them that support writing. Seemingly important but underused are, for instance, tools for electronic outlining. These tools help students to develop a structured list of ideas, which they can use as a writing plan. The central aim of this study is to determine the effect of electronic outlining on the quality of students’ writing products and on students’ experienced cognitive load during the writing task. In addition it examined how students appropriate and appreciate the outline-tool and whether they need an explicit instruction in order to engage in planning. The writing products and self-report data from 34 ninth-grade students of a Dutch secondary school were analyzed. Students wrote two similar argumentative texts with or without an electronic outline-tool. Results indicate that without instruction, students devote almost no time to planning their texts. This is regrettable since results show that electronic outlining improves the quality of students’ argumentative texts. Furthermore, the cognitive load that students reported was lower for tasks that required the use of outline tools. Answers to a retrospective questionnaire showed that the short instruction on the outline-tool was sufficient for students to understand the working of the outline-tool and that most students experienced the outline-tool as beneficial to their writing. De Smet, M. J. R., Broekkamp, H., Brand-Gruwel, S., & Kirschner, P. A. (2011, August). Effects of electronic outlining on students’ argumentative writing performance. Presentation at EARLI, Exeter, UK.
    Period30 Aug 20113 Sept 2011
    Event title14th Biennial EARLI Conference for Research on Learning and Instruction: Education for a Global Networked Society
    Event typeConference
    Conference number14
    LocationExeter, United KingdomShow on map
    Degree of RecognitionInternational