A comparison of two computer-aided instruction methods with traditional instruction in freshmen college mathematics classes
Computer Aided Instruction (CAI) has vast possibilities that are just beginning to emerge as the medium is being utilized by more and more institutions nationwide. The new educational software industries have the potential to meet the educational needs of a large and increasingly diverse student population. The purpose of the present study is to compare achievement among remedial college algebra students in classes where predominantly computer-aided instruction was used to that of students in classes using traditional lecture instruction. The researcher aimed to identify key aspects that may translate into student success and achievement in remedial college algebra classes. Theoretically, CAI should enhance learning according to well-known principles of behaviorism and constructivism. In reality, studies of learning outcomes using CAI report mixed results about whether the use of CAI actually provides educational benefit beyond that of traditional instruction. This study was comparative study using an ex-post-facto design. Class sections were randomly assigned to instructional methods. Students, although not randomly assigned to sections, were blind to instructional methods when registered for classes. The study evaluated student performance using scores on individual semester tests, a comprehensive final exam, and overall course grade. Regardless of whether achievement is measured in terms of single semester test, comprehensive final exam, course average, or test performance across the semester the results presented here indicate that students perform better in traditional classes than in CAI classes regardless of the CAI curriculum used. Moreover, despite instructional method, students perform better on tests at earlier and later points in the semester than in the middle. Comparison of the two CAI curricula used in this study indicated that student test performance is better for students using Thinkwell CAI than those receiving the MyMathLab CAI curriculum. These results have implications for math educators considering how best to use CAI to teach remedial college algebra.