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Students' Views on Writing and Technology: Gender, Race, and Class

Susan Elizabeth Kirtley, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This dissertation investigates how students perceive of new writing technologies and the culture associated with them, especially as these technologies are being incorporated into composition classrooms. In order to assess technology and create pedagogical practices that facilitate the writing development of students, composition scholars need to explore the attitudes of students entering into computerized writing environments. This study solicits the input of students in order to assess their understandings of computer technologies and computer culture, and the impact these technologies have on their experience in writing classrooms. This provides a sense of their perspectives on questions of technology and therefore begins to present a fuller picture of the context within which we teach. The study also creates a model for research that involves students actively in the research process. In order to encourage the input of students, the project was composed of several parts including a survey of eight first-year composition courses and follow-up discussions with each of these classes. However, the bulk of the data comes from eleven students who participated in a specially designed course entitled “Writing and Technology” that invited students to participate in the research process. The results demonstrate that teachers need to be aware of students' various skill levels with computers and teach accordingly. Furthermore, the study indicates that economic class plays a large role in determining a student's competency and perspective on computers. Finally, the project suggests that students hold various opinions on technology and how gender, race, and class might mark it. It is important to bring issues relating to technology and computer culture to the forefront when we teach, rather than letting computers remain “invisible” and therefore neutral objects.

Subject Area

Rhetoric|Educational technology

Recommended Citation

Kirtley, Susan Elizabeth, "Students' Views on Writing and Technology: Gender, Race, and Class" (2002). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3056250.