History and reason for the site

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  This site has evolved from a doctoral research project investigating the design of a computer tool that would help children write more effective narratives, undertaken by Kate Holdich, supervised by Professor Paul Chung, Department of Computer Science, Loughborough University, U.K. It is provided here for the benefit of parents, teachers and children. If you have found it useful, please let us know.

Part of the research investigated models of writing. There is an enormous difference in the way mature and novice writers approach the task of narrative writing. Mature writers employ a range of literary techniques and revise their writing continually. Children have limited knowledge of narrative writing techniques and rarely revise. The research literature suggests that children will benefit from being guided through the process of reflecting about ideas, vocabulary and sentence constructions as they compose their narratives. In addition they require assistance with proof reading - identifying and correcting grammar weaknesses. Children also need to be made aware of the many features which contribute to the creation of successful stories, such as how to create an effective opening, or how to make characters seem realistic.
  HARRY's interactive story writing tutorial aims to guide children through the process of revision whilst explaining literary techniques as and when they are appropriate. HARRY's conversational approach was inspired by ELIZA, the first computer system able to 'hold a turn-taking conversation' with the user. ELIZA was named after Eliza Doolittle in the play 'Pygmalion' by G.B. Shaw, who learned to speak, but never became any smarter. HARRY is named after Eliza's teacher, who was more knowledgeable - and has evolved on this site into a writing wizard. The CHECK TEXT facility is a separate tool which indicates strengths and weaknesses in children's written grammar and style. In time, HARRY may be able to assess other important features of story writing such as imaginative plot, convincing characterisation, descriptive detail etc. For now, this task must be performed by a human!

Several refereed academic journal papers have been published relating to the HARRY writing tool and CHECKTEXT analysis tool.
The doctoral thesis, story composition and process analysis using a computer tool based system, is available in pdf form from core.ac.uk the open access academic repository based in the UK.

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