Comparing handwriting vs. smartphone tapping speed
One key factor that is often overlooked when designing writing tasks is the composition medium. Precursor research has suggested that Japanese EFL students write significantly less when composing on smartphones as opposed to on paper (p < .001, d = .54). The current study sought to follow up on those findings by investigating the hypothesis that input speed/proficiency was a possible factor in the lower production rate on mobile devices. Paper- and smartphone-based transcription speeds of either Japanese or English text were analyzed for N = 144 Japanese university students. Results indicated that when transcribing in their L1, participants showed some variation but were generally faster on smartphone (n = 74, p < .001, d = .66). However, when transcribing English, 100% of participants were slower on their phones than on paper, with group means significantly different to a very large effect size (n = 70, p < .001, d = 2.4). Many participants were also observed physically and verbally indicating exhaustion after transcribing the L2 on their phones. It appears that smartphone input in English required a higher level of exertion/cognitive resources than handwriting does, though this did not seem to be a factor in the participants’ native language. This study contributes the first known empirical analysis of writing vs. tapping speed among language learners to the field of mobile-assisted language learning (MALL). Attendees will hear discussion of pedagogical implications, as well as strategies and apps which may be useful in increasing students’ tapping acuity.