The writing performance of elementary students using a digital writing application

Sheila F. Baker (Department of Literacy, Library Science and Learning Technologies, University of Houston-Clear Lake, Houston, Texas, USA)
Renée E. Lastrapes (Department of Leadership and Policy Analysis, University of Houston-Clear Lake, Houston, Texas, USA)

Interactive Technology and Smart Education

ISSN: 1741-5659

Publication date: 20 May 2019



This paper aims to investigate elementary students’ writing experiences using a digital writing application and compares the results to the findings and recommendations of a national survey on instructional practices in writing.


Mixed methods were used to assess the quantity and quality of P-5 public school students’ writing over time. Teacher, librarian and student perceptions and experiences were examined and compared to the results and recommendations from a national survey on writing.


This paper provides empirical insights into the use of a digital writing application in writing instruction. Findings showed the use of a digital writing application: significantly increased the quantity and improved the quality of student writing; excited and motivated students to write; extended the learning day so more time was spent on writing; and supported students of special populations. Comparison to the recommendations of the national survey showed five of seven recommendations were not met in this study.

Research limitations/implications

Because of the chosen research approach, the research results may lack generalizability. Therefore, researchers are encouraged to conduct further investigations.

Practical implications

The paper includes implications for writing instruction using digital applications for teachers, librarians and educators in pre-service teacher and school librarian preparation programs.


Considering limited growth in national writing scores and the transition to online writing assessments by 2019, this paper addresses the need to integrate technology into writing instruction and offers practical strategies for doing so.



Baker, S. and Lastrapes, R. (2019), "The writing performance of elementary students using a digital writing application", Interactive Technology and Smart Education, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.

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