Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Arts




Dr. Perry Klein


Writing is working memory intensive for all students, including English language learners (ELLs). Cognitive processes in writing such as transcription compete for limited resources in working memory (Bourdin & Fayol, 1994; Hayes, 2012). Previous research has shown that, when compared to handwriting, students who dictated produced better quality compositions (De La Paz & Graham, 1997; Higgins & Raskind, 1995; MacArthur & Cavalier, 2004). The goal of the present study was to investigate whether dictation would also facilitate better compositions in elementary ELL students. Using a within-subjects design, the effects of handwriting, dictation to a scribe, and dictation to a speech-to-text software were investigated on the persuasive writing of 16 elementary ELL students. Analyses of variance (ANOVAs) revealed that students had higher holistic text quality, better writing mechanics, more persuasive elements and lower cognitive load when in one or both of the dictation conditions when compared to the handwriting condition.