Behaviors, Attitudes, and Outcomes: A Study of Word Processing and Writing Quality Among Experienced Word-Processing Students

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This article reports on the relationships among computer experience, attitudes, writing behaviors, and writing quality for advanced undergraduate students who have owned Macintosh computers for at least 3 years. Students who routinely use the Macintosh use it aggressively, have positive attitudes about using it, and believe that it improves their writing. Attitudes toward writing with the Macintosh correlate with students' outcomes on two controlled writing tasks: one using the Macintosh and one using traditional writing methods. Students who like the Macintosh tend to do well on in-class writing assignments using either method; those who do not tend to do poorly using either method. These findings suggest that writing attitudes and practices are fairly well ingrained for the less competent writers, and that they need to become comfortable with the computer to experience the improved attitudes that the computer users report. If less competent writers have a more positive experience toward writing, they are likely to write more, and this, in itself, might be the most direct path to improved quality.