Digital writing and diversity: The effects of school laptop programs on literacy processes and outcomes

Binbin Zheng*, Mark Warschauer, George Farkas

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Over the last decade, the number of one-to-one laptop programs in U.S. schools has steadily increased. Though technology advocates believe that such programs can assist student writing, there has been little systematic evidence for this claim, and even less focused on technology use by at-risk learners. This study examined the effect of daily access to laptops on the writing outcomes and processes of 2,158 upper elementary students in two school districts, and the effect among diverse students. In a California district, students showed improved English language arts achievement in both a partial laptop program year and a full laptop program year. In a Colorado district, overall writing test score gains were not statistically significant; however in both districts, at-risk student groups (i.e., Hispanics and low-income learners) showed significant gains. In addition, survey results, interviews, and observations indicate that at-risk learners used the laptops more frequently than their counterparts at school for a variety of learning purposes. This study suggests that well-planned use of laptops and digital media can help diverse learners improve their literacy processes and outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)267-299
Number of pages33
JournalJournal of Educational Computing Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2013
Externally publishedYes


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