Effects of electronic outlining on students’ argumentative writing performance

Milou De Smet, Hein Broekkamp, Saskia Brand-Gruwel, Paul A. Kirschner

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    This study examined the effect of electronic outlining on the quality of students’ writing products and how outlining affects perceived mental effort during the writing task. Additionally, it was studied how students appropriate and appreciate an outline tool and whether they need explicit instruction in order to engage in planning. To answer these questions, the writing products and self-report data from 34 tenth-grade students of a Dutch pre-university school were analyzed. Students wrote two similar argumentative texts with or without an outline tool. Results show that electronic outlining improves the quality of students’ argumentative texts and decreases mental effort. Answers to a retrospective questionnaire showed that a short instruction on the outline tool was sufficient for students to understand its working and that most students experienced the tool as beneficial. Finally, results indicate that without specific instruction on text planning, students hardly devote any time to this important aspect of writing.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)557-574
    Number of pages18
    JournalJournal of Computer Assisted Learning
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2011


    • Electronic outlining
    • outline tool
    • argumentative text
    • writing
    • text structure
    • mental effort,
    • writing process
    • writing performance


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