Digitalk's appearance in middle and high school students' classroom writing: Perception versus reality

Saul A Wiener, Fordham University


Digitalk, the language of shortcuts associated with technologies like Short Message Services (SMS), has led many of its critics to characterize it as detrimental to standard written English, especially among adolescent students. Despite the findings of prior studies indicating that adolescents and college-level students do not perceive this as a problem, no studies have looked at middle and high school students' academic writing to prove or disprove this idea or to compare their perceptions and their teachers' perceptions of this problem. This study sought to fill this gap and to identify digitalk as either a confounding element in students' academic writing or as another code adolescents use to identify themselves and to switch to during their various writing tasks in a text-rich society. The elements of digitalk that critics have most frequently cited (acronyms, abbreviations, letter- and number-sound correspondence) did not appear in the collected student samples, despite teacher-participants' perceptions that student writing is riddled with them. Student-participants, however, indicated their awareness of code-switching between their in- and out-of-school discourses, although they also acknowledged a degree of automaticity as a confounding factor in their code-switching abilities.

Subject Area

Linguistics|Middle School education|Secondary education|Educational technology

Recommended Citation

Wiener, Saul A, "Digitalk's appearance in middle and high school students' classroom writing: Perception versus reality" (2014). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3628044.