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Relationships between self-regulation, social skills and writing achievement in digital schools


Students’ social and emotional development matters to their educational success. Ubiquitous digital use in schooling creates new contexts for development, raising the question of the nature of the relationships under these new conditions. Ratings of 9 to 13 year old students’ (n = 296) social skills and self-regulation and their writing achievement were examined in schools with 1:1 devices and ubiquitous access and use of digital tools in school and out of school. After controlling for demographic and school level variables two significant relationships emerged. Higher ratings of inhibitory control and cognitive empathy were associated with higher achievement in writing. The former replicates previous research and the latter provides evidence for a specific relationship between writing and social skills. Both extend what has been found in other academic areas to writing and to wide spread digital usage in schools.

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We are grateful for the time given and access provided to the research team by the early and late adopting school students, teachers, principals, families and whānau.


The New Zealand Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment Health and Society—Targeted Research Grant: UOAX1412.

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Correspondence to Stuart McNaughton.

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We declare that none of the authors has a conflict of interest with the data or research reported.

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This research was approved by The University of Auckland Human Participants Ethics Committee (UAHPEC Ref: 013,280) and all requirements were adhered to.

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McNaughton, S., Rosedale, N., Zhu, T. et al. Relationships between self-regulation, social skills and writing achievement in digital schools. Read Writ 35, 1201–1219 (2022).

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  • Writing
  • Achievement
  • Self-regulation
  • Social skills
  • Digital instruction