Berninger, V. W., Abbott, R. D., Augsburger, A., & Garcia, N. (2009). Comparison of pen and keyboard transcription modes in children with and without learning disabilities . Learning Disability Quarterly , 32 (3), 123–141. https://journals.sagepub.com/home/ldq
The impact of writing with a pen versus a keyboard on students’ performance on three writing tasks (letters, sentences, and essays) was examined.
Students with learning disabilities in handwriting and spelling and students without disabilities participated over the course of four years. All participants attended school in a large urban school district in the Northwest (U.S.). A total of 119 students participated in the first cohort of this study, and 106 students participated in the second cohort.
Students completed a writing task in which they formed each letter of the alphabet as quickly as possible, both by pen and keyboard. Participants then wrote a sentence and an essay about a particular topic, first by pen and then by keyboard. Both the speed and accuracy of all students on these writing tasks were examined.
Students with learning disabilities and students without learning disabilities did not differ in their total time producing letters by pen or keyboard. Both groups of students took more time to write sentences and essays when using a keyboard compared to using a pen. In addition to length of time, students in grades 4 and 6 wrote more complete sentences when writing with a pen than when writing with a keyboard. Researchers suggested that the use of a computer for writing assignments may not always be a sufficient accommodation for students with learning disabilities, despite the frequency of this accommodation.