I tend to think of the academic study of writing– as in “composition and rhetoric” in general terms– as a largely North American phenomenon. Sure, they do some of this stuff in Australia too, but the vast majority of people in the field I am in are in the U.S., and the idea of studying writing pedagogy and process is (sorry for the pun here) largely foreign to academics overseas.
Well, that perspective has always been wrong in different ways, and now there is a new journal to prove my wrongness: The Journal of Writing Research has published its first issue. It looks both potentially interesting and kind of weird, which, truth be told, is essentially my somewhat ignorant view of all things European. Take for example this abstract for one of this first issue, “The internal structure of university students’ keyboard skills” by Joachim Grabowski:
Nowadays, university students do not necessarily acquire their typing skills through
systematic touch-typing training, like professional typists. How, then, are the resulting typing skills of university students structured? To reveal the composition of today’s typical typing skills, 32 university students were asked to perform three writing tasks: copying from memory, copying from text, and generating from memory. Variables of keyboard operation that presumably reflect typing abilities and strategies were recorded with ScriptLog, a keystroke logging software; these variables include typing speed, keyboard efficiency, and keyboard activity beyond keypresses that become visible in the final text. Factor analyses reveal three components of typing behavior per task. The clearest interpretations of these components concern keyboard activity/efficiency and typing speed. Across tasks, typing speed is the strongest individually stable facet of keyboard operation. In summary, university students’ keyboard behavior is a multi-faceted skill rather than the mere mastery of a touch-typing method.
See what I mean?