, Volume 18, Issue 3-4, pp 215-224

Computers come of age in writing instruction

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During its first three years of use at CSU, thewriter's workbench system enjoyed such success with students, faculty, teaching assistants, and administrators that the project now includes the entire composition program—basic, college, and advanced writing, more than 4000 students per year. Faculty in the College of Business have adaptedworkbench for the needs of their students. Faculty in the Intensive English program have adapted it for international students learning English. As the result of a slight increase in tuition, the English Department's Center for Computer-Assisted Writing is now free to all composition students. As the project continues to expand, the laboratory will become a textual-analysis and writing center, soon CSU hopes, open at no charge to all students writing papers for any instructor on campus who agrees to spend lecture, office or grading time helping students with writing problems.

Programs for composition instruction like theworkbench now give writers new power to learn by bringing even the seemingly esoteric and difficult points of style and diction directly to bear on the writer's text. Our experience and that of students at CSU suggest that computers and software will improve the way we write, the way we learn to write, and the way we teach writing.

Patricia S. Gingrich, now a member of the Technical Staff, UNIX Systems Engineering, AT&T Bell Laboratories, Summit NJ, was a member of the Documentation Technologies Group at Piscataway NJ, and liaison between the Laboratories and the CSU Project in 1981–82.
Kathleen E. Kiefer, an associate professor of English at Colorado State University, is Director of Basic Writing at CSU, co-head of the CSU Project for Computer-Assisted Writing, author of Making Writing Work: Effective Paragraphsand Thinking, Reading, Writing,and co-editor of Computers and Composition,a newsletter.
Charles R. Smith, an associate professor of English at Colorado State University, is co-head of the CSU Project for Computer-Assisted Writing.