Write between the lines: Electronic outlining and the organization of text ideas

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

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    Abstract

    Writing is an important, complex skill which could be enhanced through the effective use of writing tools that are incorporated in word processors. The main objective of this study was to examine the effect of (repeated) electronic outlining on the quality of students’ writing products and perceived mental effort. The study also investigated how students appropriate and appreciate the outline tool. Data were collected from 58 ninth-grade students who wrote two argumentative texts about a topic they had previously discussed during several class sessions, meaning that ideas were generated and clustered beforehand. Students’ writing products were scored for Total Text Structure, Structure Presentation, and Hierarchical Elaboration of Arguments. Results reveal that first-time tool-use had no significant effect on students’ writing products and perceived mental effort. However, repeated use positively affected Structure Presentation and led to decreased perceived mental effort, but no significant effect was found on Total Text Structure and Hierarchical Elaboration of Arguments. Answers to a retrospective questionnaire showed that students quickly appropriated the tool with tool appreciation increasing with repeated use. This study suggests that in order to profit from electronic outlining, it is important to practice using the outline tool and to use it for complex tasks, requiring idea generation and organization.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2107-2116
    Number of pages10
    JournalComputers in Human Behavior
    Volume28
    Issue number6
    Early online date11 Jul 2012
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2012

    Keywords

    • Electronic outlining
    • Outline tool
    • Argumentative writing
    • Text organization
    • Student writing
    • Writing Process

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