An analysis of the orthographic errors found in university students’ asynchronous digital writing

  • Esteban Vázquez-CanoEmail author
  • Ana Isabel Holgueras González
  • José Manuel Sáez-López


This article presents an analysis of the orthographic errors found in university students’ asynchronous digital writing. A university and a society belonging to the twenty-first century require students and professionals who can use their language correctly in any context, device and mode of communication. The research was based on a sample of 1237 digital interactions in discussion forums and emails between students of the National University of Distance Learning on subjects related to academic work. We applied a descriptive quantitative methodology by means of a statistical and lexicometric analysis of the written texts and multiple regression analysis, related to four independent variables: gender, studies, interlocutor (professor/student), and digital device (fixed, mobiles) and three orthographic sub-levels (punctuation, accentuation and spelling). The results show that there is considerable room for improvement in the orthography of university students’ asynchronous digital writing. A total of 71.3% of errors were not conditioned by independent variables but by ignorance of the orthographic rules or incorrect use of the language.


Digital writing Lexicometry Orthographic errors European Higher Education Area Computer mediated communication 



This research forms part of the work carried out by the Alfamed group (EuroAmerican Interuniversity Network for Research on Media Competences for Citizens), with the support of the Coordinated I+D+I Project called “Citizens’ Media Competences in emerging digital media (smartphones and tablets): innovative practices and educommunication strategies in multiple contexts” (EDU2015-64015-C3-1-R) (MINECO/FEDER), and of the “Media Education Network” of the State Program for the Promotion of Excellence in Scientific-Technical Research, the State Subprogram for Knowledge Generation (EDU2016-81772-REDT), financed by FEDER (European Regional Development Fund) and Spain’s Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Didactics and School Organization, Faculty of EducationUniversidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED)MadridSpain

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