English Department: 1 st Year Interactive ‘Online Language and Essay Writing’ Programme

Lecturer and Project Coordinator, Fiona Moolla of the English Department created an ‘online language and essay writing Programme’ – for English 1st Year students. The purpose of the module is to enable students to:
– navigate relevant content;
– focus on basic skills for academic writing and effective language use; and
– engage in self-directed learning (in this case, online assessment tests).

The interactive online Language Programme is available to approximately 700 English 1st Yr students to test and develop their essay writing skills. To-date, more than half of the 1st Yr students have accessed and interacted with the various ‘content blocks’ (including, subject verb agreement, sentence structure, paragraph writing, etc.).

It should be noted that Fiona worked in collaboration with Language Specialists and the Instructional Designer (CIECT) -to develop the content and related assessment tasks; select appropriate eTools; and align accordingly. Furthermore, prior to the release of the environment, a critical test (trial) phase had to be conducted with the subject-matter expert, the Instructional Designer, and the student tutor.

Recent feedback from students have indicated the benefits of this Programme.  However, the lecturer will be able to deliberate on the impact once there is evidence of application within specific writing pieces.

NB: Recently, lecturers and tutors in the English Department have been referred to this initiative; especially regarding their students who are having challenges with academic, essay writing. Hence, this Programme may be extended to accommodate all undergraduate English students. This online Programme is available asynchronously (independently, at your own pace and time).  Students are also able to engage in a particular test (linked to a content block) as many times as required. The system automatically grades the test and provides online results.

Sim et al (2004) identify automated marking, reinforcement of the ability of students to study at their own pace, the ability to retake questions multiple times, and the receiving of rapid feedback as the core advantages of using multiple choice questions in computerised and online testing. Moreover, Jamieson (2005) argues that online language assessment allows for the construction of tests that are better tailored to the abilities of the students, thus giving more accurate measurement of their abilities. Furthermore, they can make testing a more interesting experience for the students. However, the vital importance of a pedagogically sound and theoretically informed instructional design is emphasised (Jamieson, 2005).

** Please view CIECT training and support interventions for 2015 at the following link: http://tinyurl.com/ozxg3oy
** Bookings should be done via the iEnabler platform, 2 days prior to the workshop.

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