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Department of English
Weber State College
In the autumn quarter of 1983, the English Department at Weber State College, Ogden Utah, initiated computer-assisted writing instruction in its freshman composition classes in an attempt to help students improve their editing and revising skills and free instructors to spend more time on higher-level rhetorical concerns. Incorporated into the computer-assisted writing courses was the use of a computer lab consisting of twenty-six Convergent Technology microcomputers driven by two 40-megabyte Winchester disk drives. Currently the system is used essentially
how to use the word processor: Introduction and Basic Cursor Movements; Fixing Mistakes: Part I; Fixing Mistakes: Part II; Search and Replace; Using the Writing Aids Programs; and Formatting the Essay.
During Winter Quarter 1985, 736 students were enrolled in computer-assisted writing instruction, approximately 57 percent of all students enrolled in freshman English composition courses. Students welcome the Writing Aids programs in preparing their compositions and the opportunity afforded to become qualified users of a word processor in our technological society.
Plans with ALPS are now underway to update the Writing Aids programs, replace the present system with Apple "Macintosh" computers, and eventually add prewriting software. An additional computer writing center is being planned for use on the campus at large by students not necessarily enrolled in the freshman English program.
The English Department has initiated research to measure the effects of computer-assisted writing instruction, but the analysis of the data has not been completed.