Sample Thesis: Computer Assisted Instruction (CAI)

 

Abstract

Computer Assisted Instruction has significantly improved the learning capabilities of the learning-disabled students. The recent researches have demonstrated its success in attracting students with learning disability to keep their focus on studies and improving comprehension and memorizing skills of lessons and stories. However, there is little research on the impact of CAI on learning-disabled students’ skill acquisition. To fill this gap, this study intends to conduct an experimental research by arranging two groups of students, the one will receive CAI while the other will receive the traditional instruction for learning. The purpose of this study is to investigate the impact of CAI on the skill acquisition of the LD students.

CHAPTER 1

Introduction

Computer Assisted Instruction (CAI) is a powerful tool to improve the learning capacity of students with learning disabilities. According to Lewis and Doorlag (1999), CAI is an adaptive technology that can enable students with severe learning disabilities to become active learners. Because computer assisted instruction has been positively related to increase achievement of low ability students (Edwards, Norton, Taylor, Weiss, and Dusseldorp, 1975), many special educators have incorporated it into their instructional programs. CAI has been reported to particularly well suited for the instruction of students with learning problems (Hallworth and Drebner, 1980; Sandals, 1975; Turlington, 1980). CAI incorporated several features instruction of learning disabled (LD) students; features such as the computer’s unique capability for individualization, interactive learning, feedback, motivation, and repetition.

It is generally recognized under most conceptions of learning disabilities that there is a variety of reasons why children may have difficulty leaning in school (Senf, 1976). Additionally, there are significant individual differences in learning rates and in levels of knowledge and understanding among students in general (Suppes, 1968). CAI offers the capability of providing individually tailored instructional programs, designed to meet each student’s special needs. The flexibility of CAI allows instruction to be easily adapted to the ever-changing needs of the learner. Also, with CAI individualization, all students are permitted to learn at the same high degree of achievement regardless of the time period involved (mastery learning).

Learning disabilities are problems that affect the brain’s ability to input, process, analyze and store information (Antonious & Souvignier, 2007). Due to these problems, LD students have been described as “passive learners” (Torgesen, 1980) who do not perform well in school because they fail to adapt to tasks through the use efficient and organized strategies. Likewise, their work and study habits are often disorganized. The one-on-one interactive nature of the computer medium involves the students as an active participant. An ongoing dialogue between the student and computer program structured, the computer presenting information in an organized way and teaching the student to respond within the program’s parameters. Students can actively control their progress through presented information, the sequence of material, and the timing of presentation.

Little research has been conducted, however, to document the effect on the achievement or attitude of learning disabled students.

Theoretical Framework

 

CAI is an effective technology to boost skill acquisition among all type of learners (Gadzella, 1982). If designed and implemented properly, CAI can narrow the gap between students with learning disabilities and fast learners (Hall, Hughes & Filbert, 2000). The skill acquisition capabilities of a student can be increased with timely and appropriately implementation of CAI based teaching methods.

Since many learning disabled students have deficits in mathematics, computer assisted instruction would seem to be a promising method of instruction and remediation. The computer can provide endless drill and practice, immediate feedback, and reinforcement. Computer-assisted instruction also provides the motivation often lacking in other, more traditional forms of instruction.

 

Statement of the Problem

Recent researches have shown the positive effects of CAI on the learning acquisitions of the LD students (Hertzke 1989). However, these researches have studied the population from different aspects and their results also vary significantly. The major focus of these studies has been to demonstrate the effectiveness of CAI on the learning capabilities of LD students. Little research has been conducted, however, to document the impact of CAI on learning-disabled students’ skill acquisition. The use of CAI by the LD students can impact their learning in different ways. It helps them concentrate on a single task and through promptly providing feedback, motivate them to put extra efforts to advance in their learning. Further, the CAI provides assistance at individual level, thus it helps the students keep their track of learning giving them a person feeling and offer them challenges to move forward. Computer assisted instruction is self paced and provides immediate feedback to the use as to whether or not the response is correct or incorrect. Students using computer assisted instruction feel there is more privacy; they feel they learn better through the computer system. All these incentives of CAI, ultimately result in improve and enhanced learning acquisition of the LD students.

Though the previous researches have studied the impact of CAI on students with disability, no research has been conducted to investigate in what ways the use of CAI can improve and enhance the learning-disabled students’ skill acquisition.

 

Hypothesis. The learning-disabled students who are given CAI will show significantly higher skill acquisition scores than learning-disabled students who are not given CAI.

 

Purpose for the Study

Recent statistics show that, nearly four million school-age children and teens have learning disabilities, and at least 39% of them have a type of disorder that makes it difficult to focus (Traynor, 2003). The purpose of this study is to investigate the impact of CAI on learning-disabled students’ skill acquisition.

“Read More: Use of Artificial Intelligence

Significance of the Study

 

Much research has been conducted in the field of computer assisted instruction and in the field of learning disabilities. These studies, however, have been conceived and conducted independently of one another. Little research attention has been focused on specific the impact of CAI on learning-disabled students’ skill acquisition.

This study, on the other hand, focuses attention on skill acquisition by the disabled students through the use of CAI. For this purpose, the researcher will study the impact of CAI on learning-disabled students’ skill acquisition by selecting two groups of study population, the one that receives computer assisted instruction and the other that does not receive the computer assisted instruction. It is believed and the previous studies have shown that the use of CAI has positive effect on the leaning process of students with disability. This study would be unique in that it would investigate how the use of CAI can improve the skill acquisition of the students with learning disability. Further, the findings of this study would contribute significantly to encourage and introduce the use of CAI as a medium of instruction for the LD students, especially in the absence of previous research in the field of learning acquisition through the use of CAI. Thus, the significance of the study is to examine the effects of CAI system on learning-disabled students’ skill acquisition.

Definition of Terms

 

Computer Assisted Instruction (CAI)

“The software designed to teach toward a curricular goal, to provide instruction and practice toward the achievement of an immediate learning objective” (Hall, Hughes & Filbert, 2000, p. 173). In this study, the computer program QuickReads serves as the CAI that will be used for the controlled group of this study.

Teacher Assisted Instruction (TAI)

A program of instructional material presented by means of a teacher or an assigned faculty (Fung Chi-yuen, 2000)

Learning Disabilities (LD)

Learning disabilities are problems that affect the brain’s ability to receive process, analyze, or store information. These problems can make it difficult for a student to learn as quickly as someone who is not affected by learning disabilities (Twyman & Tindal, 2006).

Skill acquisition (SA)

Skill acquisition is the process of achieving skill in a subject or work through the methods like instructor imitation, trial an error and constant practice. The stages of skill acquisition are novice, advanced beginner, competence, proficient, expert, mastery (Hubert, 2005).

Limitations, Delimitations and Assumptions

Limitations of the Study

Begin typing this part here. Add paragraphs as needed to complete this part of the introduction.

Delimitations of the Study

As this study is an experimental one and will observe two groups of students over a certain period of time, there are some limitations anticipated in this regard. First of all, it would be difficult to find a proper school where experimentation can be made free of any external influences. Secondly, as the syllabus of institutions varies considerably, the learning outcome may also be different to some extent. Thirdly, the study findings may not be generalized into other learning-disabled students groups because the types of learning disabilities are vary. Another possible limitation may be in the recruitment of enough number of students for this study.

Delimitation of the study

            The study must be strictly confined a classroom based study. The process of learning and skill acquisition can be identified in every sphere of life like, an office, and industry, a hospital etc. Delimiting the study to a classroom reduces the complexity of designing a CAI based system.

Reducing the study to students reduces the quantity load and quality load to a certain extent. Since teen age students are expected to show greater signs of learning disability compared to early school students, the domain can be further delimited to teen aged students.

The subject area of CAI based study has to be confined to a single subject as it reduces the complexity of the CAI system design and implementation. The skill area may also be delimited as to reducing or writing, which would reduce the skill level analytical load of the study.

Assumptions of the Study

The study based on effectiveness of CAI system in assisting students with LD has been frequently researched. The added criterion of skill acquisition is a less researched area. This makes the study more unique. The study assumes that CAI significantly improves and enhances the skill acquisition of the LD students. This assumption is based on the previous studies conducted to investigate the impact of CAI on the learning capabilities of the students with learning disabilities. The previous studies have proved that CAI significantly improves the learning skills of students who otherwise are unable to learn at the pace compared with the normal students.

Summary

 

CAI based system is a tool that can be well devised to serve as an aid in teaching all types of learners. As previous research shows, CAI is a very good motivation method for students with learning disabilities. Recent studies in the area of CAI have also revealed the rate of skill acquisition has been greatly enhanced. In general, it is found that the adoption of CAI based system in tandem with the TAI based system increases the learning and skill acquisition capacities of students with LD. This study would investigate the impact of CAI on learning-disabled students’ skill acquisition and contribute significantly to the existing knowledge for improving the CAI tools, syllabus and curriculum.

CHAPTER 2

Review of the Literature

There is a scarcity of literature pertaining to learning disabilities (Johnson, 1979). Houck, Todd, Barnes, and Eglehard (1980) attributed the lack of attention to a seemingly lower incidence of math difficulties compared to reading difficulties. Also, there seems to be reduced societal pressure for success in this skill area as compared to the demand for success in reading (Houck, et. al., 1980).

To understand the problems that many learning disabled students have with skill acquisition, it is important to understand the general characteristics of the child with a learning disability. Geren (1979) described this child as having a short attention span and having problems collecting, sorting, and expressing information. Their behavior may be characterized by distractibility, inability to sustain, breaks in continuity of thought, poor organization, poor feedback, and poor memory (Lehtinen, 1978). These children often have difficulty in selecting and extracting significant details and lack flexibility or imagination. Cruikshank, Bentzen, Ratsburg, and Tannhauser (1961) found similar characteristics in what they termed the “brain-injured child”. These children have often had few opportunities for success and are often disorganized in their learning (Cruikshank, et. at., 1961).

 

Computer Assisted Instruction

The use of computer assisted instruction, or CAI, is rapidly increasing. In a review of the research, Edwards, Norton, Taylor, Weiss and Van Dusseldorf (1975) cited several studies which indicate that the use of computer assisted instruction in conjunction with traditional methods of instruction to be significantly more effective in increasing achievement than traditional teaching alone. Computer assisted instruction has also been found to be more effective with low ability students than with middle or high ability students. Crawford’s (1970) study of seventh grade underachieving, disadvantaged students (N=36) indicted that those subjects using computer assisted drill and practice along with traditional instruction showed significant pre-/post-test gains over those students receiving only traditional instruction. A study of 56 learning-disabled elementary students (Watkins and Web, 1981) provided similar results. Experimental subjects received ten minutes of individualized computer assisted math instruction while control subjects received ten minutes of traditional instruction each day for fie months. These subjects had significantly greater post-test scores than the control group, as measured by the California Achievement Test.

An important reason behind the importance and necessity of the CAI is that teachers do not have much time to concentrate on individual students as compared to the capability of computers to be reserved for every student. That is why teachers of students with learning disabilities in reading continually look for additional strategies and procedures to obtain success in decoding and comprehension skills (Hall, Hughes & Filbert, 2000). CAI helps the teachers in providing them more instructional time and practice for those who most desperately need to learn reading skills. The necessity for CAI is also evident from the teacher shortages, school financial limitations, and time factors all of which impact the ability to provide optimal services to each LD student in reading. According to Hall et. at., (2000) one potential solution to provide additional instruction and needed practice comes through computer technology. Since the last two decades much research and program development has been witnessed in the specific instruction and practice of reading skills using computers. In particular, many educators and researchers enlist the technology of computer assisted instruction (CAI) (Rieth & Semmel, 1991).The result of these technological developments is that these may help needed instruction and practice for students with learning disabilities.

The modern computers with well developed software have become a potential supplement for classroom teachers when providing instruction concurrent with practice in specific reading skills and strategies. There are a number of computer software programs that have been developed specifically for students with reading difficulties (Hall, Hughes & Filbert, 2000)

As stated previously, the amount of research in special education and computer based instruction is limited. Research to the present has shown that with the use of immediate feedback (Tait, Hartley, and Anderson, 1973), the possibilities of individualizing instruction, ad the positive effect on motivation (Joiner, Sedlak, Silverstein, and Vensel, 1980), computer assisted instruction can be effective for training learning disabled students. Martin (1973) and Suppes (1972) found that drill and practice programs were more effective with low ability students than with average high ability students. Kearsley (1977) also found computer assisted instruction to be “most effective used for student populations which are economically/intellectually/physically underprivileged or handicapped” (p. 12). Kearsley also stated that computer assisted instruction may not be appropriate for highly motivated, achievement-oriented students.

Carman & Kosberg (1982) studied emotionally disturbed students (N=12), age 7 to 14 years. Measuring attention to task behavior indicated that subjects received computer assisted instruction paid significantly focused attention significantly better than did those receiving traditional instruction.

Berthold and Sachs (1974) conducted similar research with minimally brain damaged subjects, ages 7 to 11 years. This study attempted to measure attention and performance following treatment. Performance of subjects receiving computer assisted instruction alone was inferior to traditional instruction alone and traditional instruction combined with computer assisted instruction. There was no significant different between traditional instruction and traditional instruction combined with computer assisted instruction. There were no significant differences in attention for the three groups.

Triiletti, Firth, and Armstrong (1984) conducted research with elementary learning disabled students (N=21) comparing computer assisted instruction with math instruction in a resource room. The subjects receiving computer assisted instruction (n=12) received 40 minutes of math instruction. This included drill and practice, tutorial, assessment, or word problems on deficient skills. The remaining subjects received 40 minutes of math instruction from the resource room teacher (n=9). Assessment of achievement gains was made by use of the key Math Diagnostic Arithmetic Test. Data from a mid-year assessment (4 months) indicated that the computer assisted instruction group learned almost twice the number of new math skills as the resource room group. Data from the full year assessment (9 months) revealed that achievement gains for the computer assisted instruction group were significantly higher than the resource room group.

McDermott and Watkins (1983) also conducted research with elementary learning disabled students (N=205). The subjects were assigned to either computer assisted mathematics instruction, computer assisted spelling instruction, or to a traditional instruction control group and received instruction for 9 months. Achievement gains were measured by use of the Wide Range Achievement Test. A repeated measures analysis of covariance revealed no significant differences among the three groups. McDermott and Watkins stated that, although the study revealed no significant differences, “it is possible that combination of computerized and conventional remedial instruction may work as well with problem learners and that success will vary as a function of the severity of the learning disorders and differential style of learning.” (p. 86). McDermott and Watkins also suggest that computerized instruction may be most beneficial for those students that have

 

CHAPTER 3

 

Methodology

 

The purpose of this study is to determine if the use of Computer-Assisted Instruction (CAI) will improve reading comprehension scores in high school learning disabled students. The study will use the QuickReads programs to determine if using a program with stories to be read quickly and immediately answer questions help students improve their reading comprehension skills. This study will also look at the high stakes test scores for the students to determine if the reading comprehension portion of the high stakes test score was increased. This section will discuss the process that will be used, the people to be studied, the instruments used, the collection of data, and how the data will be analyzed.

Design

This study will be experimental study with the one group receiving CAI being compared to a group without CAI in reading comprehension.  The mean score will be taken for each reading comprehension test for each group and compared throughout the year to determine if CAI program helped students increase their reading comprehension level. The results would be compared at the end of the semester to analyze and offer findings. One of the strengths of this study will be ability to control the student’s use of the QuickReads program, which is the independent variable of this study. The dependent variables will be the students’ reading comprehension scores.

Design’s Weakness

The design’s weakness of this experimental study is its limitation to use the specific software, limited number of participants, and the selection of a particular school. It is a commonly known fact that software used in computers vary to a great extent. Attention and attraction of the students under experiment will solely depend upon the quality of the software used in this study. So, there is possibilities of new software development at alter stage which may attract student differently. Thus, the results using a particular kind of software cannot be generalized independently.

The number of the participants also may have different results. The previous studies as discussed in the review of the literature show variation of results according to the number of participants. Such is the case with the selection of a school. The environment also impacts the learning process of students and the results would be limited accordingly.

 

Threats to Validity and Reliability

As discussed previously, this study would conduct research in a particular school, observing certain number of selected student. The study is intended to investigate the learning process of the learning disabled students over a period of 9 months. This is fairly a long time to observe the learning process. However, during such a long time, many external factors like changes in domestic conditions of the participants, physical fitness, and their personal interest in the experiment may impact the whole process. Also, the reliability of the research can be threatened by

 

Participants

The target population will be Xth grade high school students at Alfred M. Barbe High School. Student will have varying academic abilities, different races, and socioeconomic status. You need to explain how vary they are. Describe their defining characteristics in detail. The study participants are similar to the target population in most ways. The estimated number of participants will be seventy-two. This number of students represents both those who will be using the QuickReads program as well as those who will not be using the program. This number of students should be sufficient to provide information to determine any affect QuickReads has on the students’ reading comprehension ability.

Sampling strategy. This study will use random sampling. Two separate classrooms each with six separate classes.  The teachers will be provided a questionnaire (appendix x) to answer at random period so as the progress may be noted at random intervals. It would help the researcher to assess if the CAI is really improving the learning skills of the LD students. Similarly, the students will also be served with a questionnaire (Appendix x) to answer eight question about their use of the QuickRead program in order to assess if students are at ease using the software and the quality and impact of the CAI to improve their learning skills.

The students in the experimental group will be tested using the QuickReads program for 9 months. The students in the control group will be given a traditional instruction. Due to the nature of the study most if not all students should be participating so there should be no sampling errors.

Ethical standards. To comply with the National Research Act of 1974, a proposal will be sent to the Institutional Review Board (IRB) of Northwestern State University for approval.  Once approval is obtained the school and teacher will be contacted for approval and potential participants will be given the informed consent that explains the rights in a research study (see Appendix #).  The informed consent will ensure that participants are entering the study of their own free will and their parents have agreed to allow them to participate.  Scores will not be made public but a copy of the findings will be made available to the teacher, principal, and school system.

 

Instrumentation

Periodically the students and teacher will be given a questionnaire on their use of the QuickReads program (see Appendix #). The students will answer eight questions about their use of the QuickReads program several times throughout 9 months experimental period

In this section, you need to explain in detail what the “questionnaire” is.

    1. Description of Instrument: Explain why the selected instrument is appropriate for your study. Include sample items from the instrument in the form of direct quotations. Explain how the instrument is administered and scored.

 

 

 

Data Collection Procedures

The study will be conducted in A. M. Barbe High School. Contacting the principal of the school and finding out the procedure to complete the study in the study skills classroom will be the first step in the study.

The learner completes the lessons in the QuickReads at his own pace. There are four to five parts to each in each of the three seconds a student will complete. First, the student receives a preview on the story from the teacher and new words are defined. Second, the student practice listens to the story and identifies any unknown words. Next, the student reads the story for himself and takes a brief quiz on the content. If the student misses questions on the quiz, he is taken back to the content related to the missed questions for a brief review.

After permission is granted the classroom teachers will be contacted with the proposed study. Teachers in the classes studied will be instructed on what role they will play throughout the year. The teachers are currently using the QuickReads program so software training will not be an issue. Each student will be given an informed consent form (Appendix X) and assent form (Appendix X) outlining the program that will be offered. Student whose parents agree to have their children participate in the program by signing and returning the informed consent will participate in the program. If a student does not return an informed consent they will not participate in the study. Support will be provided for the teachers and students if there are any problems. Data from the QuickReads program will be stored on the server for the classroom network. The students will be given random numbers to ensure the results will be anonymous.

 

Treatment of the Data

The random data collected at random intervals will be imported into the program SPSS. As this software can excellently analyze the statistical data, the researcher intends to use it for generating the outputs and results. T-test type of data analysis will be made in order to compare the post-test scores from the experimental group and the control group. From the results,  it would be discussed if the use of CAI can improve the skill acquisition of the learning-disabled students.

The mean of the participants and non-participants will be kept in this file as well. This will test the hypothesis of time spent on this software will improve the ability of students comprehend what has been read. An assumption for this study will be that all students entering the high school grades will have at least a first grade reading level. Possible limitations include teacher or student indifference and poor implementation.

Summary

In this chapter, the methodological approach of this study has been outlined. This study intends to investigate the impact of CAI on the learning-disabled students’ skill acquisition. The previous researches have shown positive effects of the CAI on the learning capabilities of LD students. However, there is little research on the skill acquisition of the learning-disabled students. In order to investigate skill acquisition through the use of CAI, the researchers will arrange two experimental groups of learning-disabled students, the one which will use CAI, and the other that will received the traditional instruction. This research will continue for a specific period of 9 months and during the period random samples will be collected through the questionnaire. These samples will be imported into SPSS for t-test analysis and the results will be discussed at the end of this study.

 

Dissertation Master