Reading and Writing

, Volume 23, Issue 7, pp 853–888 | Cite as

Using eye and pen movements to trace the development of writing expertise: case studies of a 7th, 9th and 12th grader, graduate student, and professional writer

  • Denis AlamargotEmail author
  • Sylvie Plane
  • Eric Lambert
  • David Chesnet


This study was designed to enhance our understanding of the changing relationship between low- and high-level writing processes in the course of development. A dual description of writing processes was undertaken, based on (a) the respective time courses of these processes, as assessed by an analysis of eye and pen movements, and (b) the semantic characteristics of the writers’ scripts. To conduct a more fine-grained description of processing strategies, a “case study” approach was adopted, whereby a comprehensive range of measures was used to assess processes within five writers with different levels of expertise. The task was to continue writing a story based on excerpt from a source document (incipit). The main results showed two developmental patterns linked to expertise: (a) a gradual acceleration in low- and high-level processing (pauses, flow), associated with (b) changes in the way the previous text was (re)read.


Writing Development Expertise Eye movements Pauses Author 



The authors would like to thank Nadia Rodier (educator in “France Bloch Sarrazin” college) for her help in the experiment management, Marie-Françoise Crété for the editing and Elizabeth Portier for her translation of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Denis Alamargot
    • 1
    Email author
  • Sylvie Plane
    • 2
  • Eric Lambert
    • 1
  • David Chesnet
    • 3
  1. 1.Laboratory CeRCA, GDR 2657, CNRSUniversity of PoitiersPoitiersFrance
  2. 2.Laboratory MoDyCo, GDR 2657, CNRSUniversity of Paris-Sorbonne, IUFM de ParisParisFrance
  3. 3.MSHS, GDR 2657, CNRSUniversity of PoitiersPoitiersFrance

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