Incoming students at Seneca College and at most other community colleges in Ontario undergo a post-admission
English language skills assessment. The assessment is used to diagnose their writing needs and
to place them into a course appropriate to their level of proficiency.
Over the past five years, an increasing number of incoming students at Seneca have been placed into a developmental English course called EAC149 (in 2005, 38.0 per cent; in 2009, 43.4). EAC149 is a four-hourper- week, non-credit reading and writing course designed to prepare students for college-level English.
While developmental or remedial classes are not necessarily associated with lower academic success (Attewell, Lavin, Domina & Levey, 2006), our records indicate that a lower success rate in EAC149 puts students at a pronounced risk of not graduating from Seneca College. Effective methods to encourage successful completion of EAC149 may thus increase students’ chances of graduating from their programs.
This project assessed the impact of tablet technology and DyKnow interactive software on the development of
students’ writing skills in EAC149. Tablets enable individuals to use a pen-like instrument called a stylus to
take notes, record marginal comments and modify digital text in a manner similar to writing with a pen on
paper. DyKnow interactive software enables teachers to share and record digital content and collaborate with
students individually and collectively as a classroom session proceeds. With each tablet linked to DyKnow
interactive software, a teacher can display the work of individual students anonymously on a screen for
viewing by all class members and incorporate notations and marginal comments as they discuss the text.