By Jeff Grabill
It is commonplace to bemoan the poor writing skills of students today. Yes, there is no question that writing effectively is difficult. Yes, it is true that we don’t provide enough high quality writing instruction (writing is known as the “forgotten R”). And yes, the demands of a knowledge economy require excellent writing abilities. But the students we teach today write more than any generation in human history, and one reason for that is the pervasiveness of writing technologies in their lives.
My colleagues and I recently conducted a large survey study as part of our ongoing efforts to understand the writing lives of college students in order to better support student learning. We have identified writing practices (e.g., texting) and values associated with writing practices that have raised new questions about what students write, why they write, for whom, and using which technologies. The findings that have captured most people’s attention concern writing practices like texting and the importance of handheld devices like mobile phones as a writing platform.