Academic journal article Journal of College Reading and Learning

Using WebCT as a Supplemental Tool to Enhance Critical Thinking and Engagement among Developmental Reading Students

Academic journal article Journal of College Reading and Learning

Using WebCT as a Supplemental Tool to Enhance Critical Thinking and Engagement among Developmental Reading Students

Article excerpt

The motivation behind conducting this research lies within the need to examine further effects of online learning for developmental reading students. To date, only a few researchers have conducted studies in which they have investigated developmental reading and online learning despite the rapid implementation of online learning opportunites in many colleges and universities. This dearth of research studies is mainly due to the lack of controlled studies in community college developmental education programs. Until studies are conducted, developmental education programs are adopting promising instruction by other community colleges and universities that have found them to be successful (Perin, 2005). Implementation preceding research could come at a costly price to developmental reading students in terms of learning and developmental education as a whole if the needed research is not conducted.

Developmental Education and Distance Education

The National Association for Developmental Education (NADE) provides a current definition of developmental education, a field that has dramatically changed over the last 10 years:

Developmental education is a field of practice and research within higher education with a theoretical foundation in developmental psychology and learning theory. It promotes the cognitive and affective growth of all postsecondary learners, at all levels of the learning continuum. Developmental education is sensitive and responsive to individual differences and special needs among learners. Developmental education programs and services commonly address academic preparedness, diagnostic assessment and placement, development of general and discipline-specific learning strategies, and affective barriers to learning. (NADE, 2007, "Definition of Developmental Education," p. 1)

Concomitant with this definition, Boylan (2002) suggested that colleges should give developmental students a variety of course experiences and not limit their learning to one mode of delivery. Other researchers have expanded this suggestion with the contention that students today must have computer knowledge to succeed in college and beyond. Leu, Kinzer, Coiro, and Commack (2004) stressed the importance in our global economy of equipping students with "new literacies" that support social communication and use of communication technologies where possessing these skills in our world today are vital. Leu et al. defined new literacies as

the skills, strategies, and dispositions necessary to successfully use and adapt to the rapidly changing information and communication technologies and contexts that continuously emerge in our world and influence all areas of our personal and professional lives. These new literacies allow us to use the Internet and other ICTs to identify important questions, locate information, critically evaluate the usefulness of that information, synthesize information to answer those questions, and then communicate the answers to others. (Leu, et al., 2004)

The communicative, social nature of online learning allows students to utilize and enhance these important skills.

According to a 2000-2001 report by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES, 2003), 13% of all institutions offered developmental courses through distance education. The following is a breakdown of institutions offering developmental education through distance education: 25% of public 2-year colleges, 8% of public 4-year institutions, and 4% of private 4-year institutions.

Between 1995 and 2000, statistics indicated a substantial increase of distance education use in developmental education in all institutions (from 3% to 13%). Also, during this time period the proportion of public 2-year colleges offering remedial courses through distance education increased from 6% to 25%, and the proportion of public 4-year institutions increased from 4% to 8%.

In Fall 2000, 64% of the institutions overall used Internet courses using asynchronous communication as a primary mode of delivery for remedial instruction. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.