© A. Etges/Mercator-Institut


Implementation of digital writing tools in subject-matter instruction in secondary education

The German government as well as the federal states established the programme DigitalPakt Schule (Digital Pact for Schools) to support schools by investing in digital infrastructure and increasingly supplying them with mobile devices. However, the results of the international assessment I-CILS and the national study Schule digital – Der Länderindikator show that Germany’s use of digital technologies in education is somewhat cautious. This also applies to the use of digital media and the potential they offer for both reading and writing, as well as for learning how to read and write (digital) texts. So far, only a few research results are available regarding the use and the effects of digital writing tools in the classroom.

The research project EdToolS thus aims to find out how learning environments should be designed in order to use the potential of digital media for the development of writing skills and the writing process itself. The project focuses on the learning environment while pupils perform epistemic writing in subject-matter classes in the early years of secondary education.

The researchers involved investigate which digital tools (such as spelling and grammar checks, dictionaries of synonyms, and the read-aloud function in word processing programmes) could be used efficiently to produce factual texts on tablet devices. Moreover, the project aims to find out how pupils are affected by the tools being part of a comprehensive learning environment designed according to the didactics of writing.
To this end, a controlled interventional study with a pre-/post-test design is conducted that also takes into consideration the processing of subject-related knowledge and the role of general language competence, writing fluency and multilingualism of the pupils.

The study’s results contribute to developing didactically meaningful uses of digital writing tools to support pupils in their writing development and their content learning.

The project team is currently designing the intervention material and test instruments. These include a training course in reading and writing strategy, a training course in the use of digital tools, writing assignments and a questionnaire. In spring 2021, the pilot stage will begin at a school in the Cologne region, Germany.

At a glance


The project aims to investigate the implementation of digital writing tools in subject-matter instruction. Empirically based results should help pupils to use these tools effectively to produce texts.

Funded by

Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), funding programme Gestaltung von Bildungsprozessen unter den Bedingungen des digitalen Wandels (Digitalisierung II) (Design of educational processes under the conditions of digital transformation)


May 2020 - April 2023

Project management

Prof. Dr. Michael Becker-Mrotzek

Dr. Till Woerfel

Project team

Zoé Dede
Alexa Martin (research assistant)
Viktoria Michels