Web-Based Reading and Writing Instructional Tools: A Case Study of Student Perception and Satisfaction



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Background: Most textbook publishers now offer web-based instructional tools instead of a traditional, printed exercise book with their developmental reading and writing textbooks. This type of web-based reading and writing instructional tool is meant to offer individualized learning to students based on their skill level. Purpose: The purpose of this study is to discover the perceptions of Texas Success Initiative Assessment (TSIA) restricted students at a two-year, open-enrollment, technical college regarding the ease of use and usefulness of this type of web-based instructional. In addition, this study investigates the perceptions of instructors of underprepared college students about this type of instructional tool. Findings from this study gives college administrators a complete picture of the desirability of using web-based developmental reading and writing instructional tools in developmental reading and writing courses. Methods: During a sixteen-week semester, nine students and two instructors in an integrated reading and writing non-course based (NCBO) lab participated in one of four focus groups. Davis’ Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) was used for this study’s methodology because his 1989 set of statements is used to predict user acceptance of a technology in both the workforce and in education (Chutter, 2009). Focus group and individual interview questions were based on the set of TAM statements and include how easy students thought the tool is to use, how useful students thought it is. Individual interview questions of NCBO instructors focused on their awareness of what students think about this type of tool. Themes in the focus groups and the instructors’ interviews’ transcripts were mined for common themes after data collection. Results: This study found that students felt that a web-based reading and writing instructional tool required a large investment of their time, used difficult to understand language, and was repetitious. Instructors of these students felt that students did not like the tool, but that the tool did, despite its negative features, help students improve their overall writing, though there was very little improvement in reading. Students did not perceive a web-based reading and writing instructional tool as easy to use, and even though they did think that what they learned from the tool improved their writing, they did not see it as useful to their education. Conclusion: This study finds that even though students feel that they learned specific grammar skills, but not mention anything they learned about reading skills, from a web-based reading and writing instructional tool, overall, they do not like it because it is difficult to use. This type of tool needs to be calibrated to the skills level of the lowest TSI scores. Instructors that use this type of instructional tool can improve students’ perceptions of the ease of use and usefulness of this type of tool by using it to introduce topics, work through one or two lessons with students, and spend one-on-one time with students if they cannot complete an assignment.



Web-based instructional tools, Web-based, Instructional tools, Texas Success Initiative Assessment, TSIA, Non-course-based option, NCBO, Students, Instructors, Davis, Technology acceptance model, TAM, Ease of use, Usefulness, Open-enrollment, Technical college