Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Ben Rafoth, Ed.D.

Second Advisor

Patrick Bizzaro, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Michael M. Williamson, Ph.D.


Developmental writers have long been viewed as marginalized, and one course delivery method which might disrupt this marginalization is computer-assisted personalized system of instruction (CAPSI), which has proven successful in many disciplines. However, research on CAPSI writing courses is minimal, and there have been no published articles about the success of CAPSI in developmental writing courses. Despite this gap, administrations across the U.S. have mandated the redesign of their developmental writing programs based upon the tenets of CAPSI course delivery. Situated within a critical theoretical framework, this dissertation seeks to determine the extent to which CAPSI developmental writing courses are successful by presenting case studies of CAPSI developmental writing programs at two Tennessee community colleges. Multiple data sources included interviews with program directors and instructors, artifacts documenting the programs' creation and outcomes, site visits, and personal narratives. Data was analyzed twice. A first analysis determined what four criteria are used to measure program success; a second analysis compared each program's results against these four criteria. The study concludes that CAPSI developmental writing courses are not successful and work to increase marginalization rather than lessening it. Calls for future research include studies on the effect of quality of teaching on program success, student access to and knowledge of computer technology, the effect of procrastination among developmental writers, the effect of reading and writing abilities, and others.