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A Comparison between EFL Writing Errors in Computer-Based and Paper-Based Assignments

Paola Maria Caleffi


Advances in writing technologies have fostered the gradual move from Paper-Based (PB) to Computer-Based (CB) writing assessment in foreign language (FL) education. The trend was further boosted by the outburst of the Covid-19 pandemic, which led to drastic changes in teaching and assessment practices. In higher education (HE) contexts, writing assessment in English as a foreign language (EFL) is more and more often managed by means of online learning platforms, where students create and submit written assignments on the computer. This paper examines a sample of 100 EFL exam essays completed by 100 Italian university students. Half of the essays were computer-typed on Moodle from home during the Covid-19 lockdown, whereas the other half were handwritten on paper during a face-to-face exam session after the Covid-19 emergency. The study presented herein compares the amount and types of formal errors in the CB and PB written assignments respectively. The results of the comparison may be useful to suggest hypotheses on the impact that both writing modality and environment can have on the quality of EFL writing in assessment contexts.


computer-based writing; EFL writing errors; higher education; paper-based writing; writing assessment; writing technologies.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7358/lcm-2023-001-calp

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