School of Human and Academic Development
Technology-Based Accelerated Learning in Writing
Featured Teaching and Learning Practice
Doug Wilson and Deborah Davis redesigned two traditional developmental writing courses (DWRI 0091 and DWRI 0093) to provide an accelerated, student-centered experience that promotes active learning through interactive technology, individualized learning plans, and collaborative activities.
Developmental Writing students confront many obstacles to academic success. In traditional DWRI sections, considerable time is spent teaching and re-teaching basic skills and too many students repeat 0091 and 0093. Mr. Wilson’s and Ms. Davis’ project boosts student success and decreases the amount of time students spend in Developmental Writing by combining DWRI 091 and DWRI 0093 into two, “flex-term” courses each lasting eight weeks. Writing tutors from the Center for Tutoring and Learning Connections provide supplemental instruction and counselors provide student success topics and intervention. Software (Eduspace and Criterion) allows for differentiated instruction based on the needs of individual students while delivering automated and prompt feedback on student writings and assessment. The redesigned course also employs online tutoring from SMARTHINKING. Readiness for English 1301 is determined through the administration of the Accuplacer Test.
Mr. Wilson and Ms. Davis use a wide range of “brain-friendly” and learner-centered writing activities that foster collaboration, proficiency, and higher levels of thinking. “Brain-friendly” changes include changing the color of the classroom, instituting new fluorescent lighting in the space, and incorporating music. By shifting to technology, many basic instructional activities were individualized so that students and faculty alike can focus on the writing process and enhance the quality of the learning experience.
After two semesters, Mr. Wilson’s and Ms. Davis’ project has increased consistency among the sections using technology supported diagnostics, web lessons and other online supports; individualized programs for students learning through differentiated instruction; improved quality by increasing time on task; increased access by providing online options; provided more timely feedback for students; decreased faculty time spent developing and evaluating diagnostics,; decreased faculty time spent preparing and delivering lectures; increased time for one-on-one and small group peer activity; and outsourced evaluation of draft papers to Richland Writing Center and SMARTHINKING.The project, funded by a grant from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, also is supported by a team of Richland staff members including Martha Timberlake, Phyllis Cook, Judith Dumont, and an outside consultant from the University of North Texas.