Academic journal article Planning and Changing

The Impact of Computer Assisted Instruction on Seventh-Grade Students' Mathematics Achievement

Academic journal article Planning and Changing

The Impact of Computer Assisted Instruction on Seventh-Grade Students' Mathematics Achievement

Article excerpt


The perceived problem of low mathematics achievement is a concern to education leaders at all levels of PK-16 education. Reflecting this problem, the Third International Mathematics and Science Study-Repeat (TIMSS-R) showed the weaknesses of mathematics in the U.S. compared to other industrialized countries when eighth grade U.S. students performed lower than those from 14 of the 38 participating nations (NCES, 2000). In addition, 15-year-olds from the U.S. ranked between 16th and 23rd out of 31 countries that participated in the 2000 administration of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) (OECD, 2004). On the national level, the 2005 administration of the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) mathematics test indicated only 36% of Grade 4 students scored "at or above proficient" and only 30% of Grade 8 students scored "at or above proficient" (NCES, 2005). These results raise concerns about the mathematics learning of U.S. middle school students.

Education leaders search for interventions to address issues related to improving mathematics achievement. This article presents findings from a middle school mathematics intervention implemented to improve students' mathematics performance. The purpose of this empirical study was to determine if there was a measurable difference in achievement on the mathematics section of the TerraNova Full Battery standardized test by a sample of seventh-grade students whose teachers taught them to use mathematics websites and presentation software as tools to practice basic mathematics skills (e.g., recall, comprehension, and application; Bloom, 1956) related to their curriculum compared to students whose teachers did not teach the use of such tools.

Literature Review

Computer Assisted Instruction (CAI) provides one possible avenue for education leaders to overcome or address the problem of low achievement in mathematics. The following review of literature presents an overview of the influence and impact of CAI on mathematics achievement based on empirical studies and meta-analyses conducted during the past 20 years.

Positive Results of Computer Assisted Instruction

A number of studies have suggested that the computer provides an effective vehicle for improving student achievement (Bahr & Rieth, 1989; Bangert-Drowns, 1985; Capper & Copple, 1985). Hawley, Fletcher, and Piele (1986) observed that the overall mathematics achievement of third and fifth grade students who used CAI was higher than their peers who did not use computers to practice mathematics. Bahr and Rieth (1989) identified CAI as a factor for improved mathematics achievement of disabled junior- and senior-high students. Additional meta-analyses conducted during the 1990s found positive influences for some aspects of CAI, such as drill and practice of mathematical processes (Christmann & Badgett, 1997; Sivin-Kachala, 1998). Waxman, Connell, and Gray (2002) conducted a metaanalysis of 13 quantitative CAI studies published in peer-reviewed journals between 1997-2002 and found a positive average effect size (d) (Cohen, 1988) for CAI of .42. Social scientists consider an effect size of .2 small, while sizes in the range of .2 < d < .8 are considered moderate, and those greater than .8 are considered large. Traynor (2003) found CAI improved mathematics achievement of regular education, special education, and limited English proficient middle school students (n = 161) on mathematics pretest-posttest when compared to traditional, teacher-directed practice techniques. The students he studied comprised intact groups based on the ways that the middle school scheduled students into exploratory classes.

Mixed Results of Computer Assisted Instruction

While some studies during the past 20 years have suggested positive results from CAI, other studies have raised questions about its efficacy. The results of CAI remain mixed. …

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