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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A study of computer-assisted instructional strategies and learner characteristics Kaufman, David M.


This study was undertaken to investigate the use of computer-assisted instruction as an instructional laboratory. The concept of an instructional logic was defined as an algorithm followed by the computer program for each instructional unit. This step-by-step logic was repeated for each instructional unit but with different content. This procedure permitted the controlled manipulation of the variable of correctional feedback. Three forms of correctional feedback were defined by varying the information content of the feedback. These were response-sensitive correctional feedback, response-insensitive correctional feedback and no correctional feedback (only that the answer was incorrect). The interaction of correctional feedback with selected learner characteristics was examined as well, These learner traits were mathematical ability, prerequisite knowledge and state anxiety. The effect of correctional feedback and its interaction with these variables was examined. Subjects of the study were a representative sample of sixty-three preservice elementary school teachers from five sections of a mathematics course given in a large education faculty. These subjects were randomly assigned to the three treatment conditions, although they selected the CAI experimental periods in which they would participate. The test of mathematical ability used was the Cooperative Sequential Test of Educational Progress, Mathematics Form 2A (STEP). The state anxiety instrument used was the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) and the five item short form used by O'Neil (1972) was administered twice. The eighteen item posttest was constructed by the experimenter and the measure of prerequisite knowledge used was a nine item prelesson with a possible mark of 0, 1 or 2 on each item. The mathematics lesson was a topic in introductory calculus dealing with the concept of derivative. The topic was treated from a physical point of view, using concepts of distance, speed and time to illustrate the mathematical concepts. The main objectives were to show that the derivative is a limit and to show how to use this limit definition to calculate the derivative of a function at a point. The CAI lesson was programmed using an author language developed by the experimenter as a vehicle for implementing the instructional logic and varying the correctional feedback. The language is limited in use but has the advantage of requiring essentially no computer experience of an instructional designer. The main limitation of the language as implemented at the University of British Columbia is the cost, which limited the sample size in this experiment. The results of the study were generally in the expected direction but the effects were not as pronounced as had been hypothesized. The most important finding was the significant difference in proportion of errors on the main lesson between the response-insensitive (T₂) and no correctional feedback (T₃) groups. The importance of this finding was then increased by the significant relationship found between immediate learning and proportion of errors with the effect of learner traits and treatment effects statistically removed. The most effective variable in predicting performance in the experiment was mathematical ability and its effect was statistically controlled when testing the effect of the other variables. prerequisite knowledge was also important in predicting performance and was statistically controlled as well. State anxiety was significant in predicting proportion of errors but not response latency. However, significant treatment-by-A-State interactions were observed for posttest and for response latency. The three treatment groups differed in the expected direction on most of the important variables but the differences were not statistically significant. In particular, the A-State levels for the three groups were ordered as expected, but the differences were not large enough to cause the hypothesized interactions. The results of the study partially supported the hypothesis of the important role of correctional feedback in instruction and its interaction with individual traits of the learner. Finally, the variable of state anxiety was examined and it was found that higher levels of state anxiety led to longer response latencies. Also, state anxiety increased when no correctional feedback was provided to the students as well as when the content became more difficult. This finding confirmed the expected relationship between state anxiety and task difficulty.

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