First Advisor

Judith Edwards-Allen

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Public School Administration and Supervision


Educational Leadership and Policy




Computers and children, Word processing in education, English language -- Writing -- Computer-assisted instruction



Physical Description

4, xiv, 326 leaves 28 cm.


Many young children appear to take delight in manipulating common elements of their environment, e.g., sticks, stones, and mud. Our ancestors also used these and other elements in order to play, explore,, and eventually create written language. In a print-laden society, young children are budding literates. Within a few years their abilities and skills evolve to the level it has taken the human species thousands of years to reach. Associated with the evolution of written language is related technology. Humans have evolved from cave art and literacy to computer art and literacy. Again, what has taken thousands of years to evolve for the species takes only a few years for today's children. Within the past ten years computers have become common literacy implements in American schools. An understanding of childrens' use of this machine is important to educators in general and educational leaders in particular. The purpose of this study was to investigate kindergarten students' use of a word processor: What developmental sequences related to print literacy reveal themselves as kindergarten children use a word processor? In what ways are these sequences the same or different than those identified by researchers studying young children's use of pencil and paper? What time commitments do children make at each stage of these developmental sequences? How do the physical attributes of the computer environment, screen color for example, influence children's behavior associated with word processing? A review of literature incorporated readings associated with research in human evolution of print literacy, literacy of technology, language and cognition plus recent research on writing and computers. A research design incorporating qualitative methods was created. Six subjects, representing a variety of backgrounds in a kindergarten class of 26 full day students, were observed for 20 weeks. For one hour each day, this kindergarten class attended a writing lab which contained eight learning centers. One of the learning centers consisted of six word processors networked to two printers. In addition to collecting student documents, both in paper and electronic form. subjects' behaviors were observed and recorded. Observational recordings were analyzed, collapsed into manageable data and re-analyzed. Subjects' evolution of writing was similar to children using pencil and paper. In addition, subject's literacy of technology evolved. Each subject displayed individual episodes of development and incorporated less mature behaviors with more mature behaviors as they evolved along their print literacy and literacy of technology continuums. It was observed that subjects intertwined print and technological behaviors and skills as they wrote with a word processor. Time relationships associated with the development of writing and environmental aspects of the word processor center did not appear important. Information Age etiquette evolved as students controlled their writing, a computer system. and worked with others. The inherent publicness of monitors contributed to meta-linguistics, sharing knowledge about technology, and problem solving among students. Young children are capable of writing with and manipulating a word processor. They are also capable of trying to solve problems of written language and computers. Educators will find that young children quickly learn Information Age tool etiquette.


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