The effect of writing modality on recollection in children and adolescents

  • Satu-Maarit Frangou Centre for Media Pedagogy, Faculty of Education, University of Lapland, Rovaniemi, Finland
  • Jan Wikgren Centre for Interdisciplinary Brain Research, Faculty of Education and Psychology, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland
  • Sara Sintonen Faculty of Education, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
  • Leila Kairaluoma Faculty of Education, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
  • Pekka Vasari Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Lapland, Rovaniemi, Finland
Keywords: handwriting, keyboarding, writing instruction, recollection


We set out to assess the extent to which writing modality affects recollection in children and adolescents. We examined 10- to 11-year-old children’s (N = 63) and 16-year-old adolescents’ (N = 43) handwriting, keyboarding with a laptop computer and keyboarding with a touchscreen tablet computer or mobile phone in a within-subjects experimental design. Participants were instructed to write down stories dictated to them in the three writing modalities. Recollection of the stories was assessed using free recall of details in the stories. The results indicate that the writing modality affects recollection, handwriting leading to better recollection. However, currently, digital writing tools are inundating classrooms and workplaces around the globe, making their competent use a necessity in today’s world. For example, in Finland, students are obligated to use a laptop in upper secondary education and in the national final examination. In light of the results, we highlight the importance of balancing the instruction and practice of different writing modalities. Given the limitations of this study, we suggest conducting a larger-scale study and further research on the educational and cognitive implications of using and learning to write using multiple writing modalities.


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How to Cite
Frangou S.-M., Wikgren J., Sintonen S., Kairaluoma L., & Vasari P. (2019). The effect of writing modality on recollection in children and adolescents. Research in Learning Technology, 27.
Original Research Articles