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Desktop vs Laptop

In: Computers and Technology

Submitted By dlyons79
Words 7410
Pages 30
International Journal of Testing, 13: 105–122, 2013
Copyright ⃝ 2013 Educational Testing Service
ISSN: 1530-5058 print / 1532-7574 online
DOI: 10.1080/15305058.2012.690012

Writing Essays on a Laptop or a Desktop
Computer: Does It Matter?
Guangming Ling and Brent Bridgeman
Educational Testing Service
To explore the potential effect of computer type on the Test of English as a Foreign
Language–Internet-Based Test (TOEFL iBT) Writing Test, a sample of 444 international students was used. The students were randomly assigned to either a laptop or a desktop computer to write two TOEFL iBT practice essays in a simulated testing environment, followed by a survey of computer experience. The survey results suggested that the participants had extensive experience using computers, had more experience with laptops than with desktops, and preferred using the laptop computers to the desktop computers. The computer type (laptop or desktop computer) was found to have a negligible effect on essay performance (essay score, essay length, and writing speed). However, other factors, including gender, regional background, daily experience with laptop or desktop computers, preference for a particular pointing device, and previous TOEFL experience, were found to be significantly related to essay performance but did not interact with computer type.
Keywords: computer type effects, desktop, e-rater, essay length, essay score, laptop, writing speed

When large-scale computer-based testing began in the early 1990s, testing centers were equipped with standard desktop computers. At the time, this was the computer type most familiar to students. Testing on what were then relatively rare, laptop computers appeared to be acceptable for multiple-choice questions, but resulted in degraded performance on essay questions (Powers & Potenza, 1996). In the past decade, laptop computers have...

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