Responding to free response examination questions: computer versus pen and paper

R MacCann*, B Eastment, S Pickering

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A two-part study, involving 14- to 15-year-old high school students, compared two modes of responding to free response examination questions: by computer and, the traditional way, by pen and paper. In Part 1, both the computer group (n = 57) and the pen and paper group (n = 5 2) were formed by random assignment, They answered three essay questions from a 19 9 7 external English test which were holistically marked. In Part 2, the computer group (n = 88) and the pen and paper group (n = 53) chose their preferred method of response. They answered two essay questions from a 1999 external English test, which were analytically marked using standards-referenced criteria. For four of the five questions, there were no significant differences between the pen and paper response marks and the computer response marks when presented in their original formats. When the pen and paper responses were word-processed, markers tended to award higher marks to the handwritten scripts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-188
Number of pages16
JournalBritish Journal of Educational Technology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2002
Externally publishedYes


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