skip to main content skip to footer

Will They Think Less of My Handwritten Essay If Others Word Process Theirs? Effects on Essay Scores of Intermingling Handwritten and Word-Processed Essays

Farnum, Marisa; Fowles, Mary E.; Powers, Donald E.; Ramsey, Paul
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Report
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Essay Tests, Grading, Handwriting, Praxis Series, Scoring, Test Reliability, Word Processing


A study was undertaken to determine the effects on essay scores of intermingling handwritten and word-processed versions of student essays. A sample of examinees, each of whom had produced both a handwritten and a word-processed essay, was drawn from a larger sample of students who had participated in a pilot study of item types being considered for the new academic skills assessments of The Praxis Series: Professional Assessments for Beginning Teachers. Students' original handwritten essays were converted to word-processed versions, and their original word-processed essays were converted to hand- written versions. In a preliminary study, handwritten and word-processed essays were then intermingled and rescored. Analyses revealed higher average scores for essays scored in the handwritten mode than for essays scored as word-processed, regardless of the mode in which essays were originally produced. Several hypotheses were advanced to explain the discrepancies between scores on handwritten and word- processed essays. The training of essay readers was subsequently modified on the basis of these hypotheses, and the experiment was repeated using the modified training with a new set of readers. The results of this second study showed an average reduction of about 25% in the discrepancy between essays read in the handwritten and word- processed modes, compared with the results of the initial study. The effects computed in the second experiment were small by most standards, and predicted to have very little if any impact on certification decisions. Nonetheless, a recommendation is made not only to adopt the modified training but also to monitor this effect throughout the operational scoring sessions. (20pp.)

Read More