The effects of computer-assisted instruction on the writing performance and writing anxiety of community college developmental students

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Higher Education

First Committee Member

Gilbert Cuevas - Committee Chair


Researchers have only begun to ascertain the effects of computer aids on the behaviors and attitudes of writing students, particularly those in developmental college classrooms. Studies suggest that the most positive effects of computer-assisted composition instruction (CAI) involve students' greater collaboration in writing tasks and improvement of attitudes toward writing. Findings regarding the effect of CAI on revision, fluency, writing anxiety, and gains in writing quality have been contradictory. This study set out to investigate whether the writing performance and writing anxiety of developmental community college students could be significantly affected by the use of computers in a networked environment.The CAI and the comparison groups were administered pretest essays and the Writing Apprehension Test by Daly and Miller (1974). After a semester of process-based writing instruction utilizing the same materials and syllabus, both groups produced paper-and-pencil posttest essays and took the Writing Apprehension Test again. In addition, handwritten posttest essays by the CAI group were compared to posttest essays produced by the same group on the computer.A statistical analysis of holistic scores revealed no significant differences between the CAI and comparison groups in writing performance, and no significant differences in the overall performance of the CAI group when writing on the computer as opposed to using paper and pencil. Analytical scores revealed that the content of the computer essays produced by the CAI group was rated significantly higher than the content of paper-and-pencil essays produced by the same group. Analysis of grammar and spelling, diction, organization and sentence structure did not yield significant differences between the handwritten and computer essays. The CAI group' s writing anxiety became significantly lower than that of the comparison group. Observations by the researcher indicated positive student retention and attitudes toward the computer, and limitations in the study due to lack of technological training and resources. Developmental students did not seem overwhelmed by the new technology or unable to benefit from it, as demonstrated by the significantly reduced writing anxiety of the CAI group, and the significantly higher rated content of the computer essays. These results, though limited in generalizability, warrant further experimentation with developmental writing instruction that integrates computer networks.


Education, Community College; Education, Language and Literature; Education, Technology of; Education, Curriculum and Instruction

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