Building on past results establishing a benefit for using handwriting when entering mathematics on the computer, we hypothesize that handwriting as an input modality may be able to provide significant advantages over typing in the mathematics learning domain. We report the results of a study in which middle and high school students used a software tutor for algebra equation solving with either typing or handwriting as the input modality. We found that handwriting resulted in similar learning gains in much less time than typing. We also found students seem to experience a higher degree of transfer in handwriting than in typing based on performance during training. This implies that students could achieve farther goals in an intelligent tutoring system curriculum when they use handwriting interfaces vs. typing. Both of these results encourage future exploration of the use of handwriting interfaces for mathematic instruction online.
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