Friday, October 22, 2010

MSU researcher studies student writing behaviors

A study of first-year college students at seven post-secondary institutions across the U.S. shows that these students most frequently write text messages and email. No surprise, right? However, many of the results of Jeff Grabill's 2010 study are surprising: how much students value certain types of writing, what they write for personal fulfillment, and whether digital genres are as popular with this population as most believe them to be. Grabill states in his online white paper, "These findings [...] shed light on the writing practices and values of contemporary college students. In particular, these findings point to the pervasiveness of writing in the lives of our participants and the importance of hand-held devices like mobile phones as a writing platform." Grabill and his study group also point out differences across institution types including Associate's Universities, Master's Universities, and Research Universities.

Grabill's study does not seem to include the writing behaviors of adult and non-traditional first-year students. More data is needed on adult and non-traditional students, especially with regard to writing genres, use of digital media, and variance across institutions and geographical locations. Would we find that adult students have similar behaviors as the traditional first-year students?

For more on Grabill's study, see http://wide.msu.edu/special/writinglives/.

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