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Title:The Computer as a Tool in Teaching Basic Writing to College Freshmen
Author(s):Svacina, Jean Marie
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Walker, Jerry L.
Department / Program:Education
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Speech Communication
Education, Technology of
Education, Curriculum and Instruction
Abstract:This study explores the effects of the computer on the writing skills of 93 college students enrolled in a special Rhetoric program; these students were basic writers in that they demonstrated serious problems with correctness and clarity of ideas. The purpose of this study was two-fold. First, a CAI component was designed and implemented into the existing curriculum which focused on improving grammar skills and some lower-order writing skills. Second, a formal evaluation of the CAI component was conducted in order to determine its effectiveness in improving certain skills. Three different groups of EOP Rhet 104 students participated in this study with the first group of 50 students belonging to the PLATO group; 33 students making up the Control group; and 10 students serving as the Microcomputer section. All groups followed basically the same course syllabus. The PLATO students also completed weekly lessons on PLATO; the Micro students did the majority of their writing on the microcomputer using word processing.
To examine the writing skills of these students, two methods of evaluation were used: impromptu essay writing and a multiple-choice exam. The impromptu essays were judged using holistic scoring and analytical scoring, which focused on elements presented in the PLATO lessons as well as areas deemed problematic for basic writers. A pencil and paper multiple choice exam was administered as a posttest. Finally, students attitudes toward the EOP instruction and computer use were measured using results from questionnaires and taped interviews. Instructors were also surveyed in regard to their opinions about teaching grammar.
Results from the evaluation showed that participation in the PLATO component had no effect on improved correctness in writing nor did it lead to better overall writing. Furthermore, no significant differences in writing skills were found among the groups. A majority of students in both the PLATO and Micro sections, however, cited the computer as being an effective tool for learning with 92% of the Micro students concluding that their writing skills had improved because of the computer though findings do not support this claim. The implications of these results to the teaching of basic writers are presented.
Issue Date:1988
Description:209 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1988.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8908860
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-15
Date Deposited:1988

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