Revision history analytics in service of analyzing the writing process

Awardees: Daniel Seaton, Selen Turkay, and Andrew Ang (CADM-VPAL)

Summary: Awardees analyzed revision patterns in student writing, how they relate to activities within specific passages of a written text, and how revision-history analytics can play a role in supporting teaching and improvement in writing skills.

Daniel Seaton, Selen Turkay, and Andrew Ang of the Vice Provost for Advances in Learning (VPAL) Research Group employed computer-aided writing tools to leverage data about letter-to-letter revision history of writers. They analyzed writing throughout the editing process as a means to improve student learning in writing. The program the team designed, “Itero,” allows character-by-character revision history from the initial creation of a document. Additional features include tracking the revisions of each individual contributor on collaborative writing projects, replay, and visualizations of revisions throughout the history of a single document from inception.

The team plans to conduct testing in Fall 2017 both in Harvard writing-intensive classes and using Amazon Mechanical Turk to measure participants’ self-regulation and writing self-efficacy, as well as to determine their writing strategies and collect qualitative self-report data on their experience. Other questions the team will seek to answer are: How does watching their own writing process influence students’ understanding of the writing process and their own habits? How does watching the writing of peers or experts impact students’ own writing?