Using Computers

Last Modified 3/20/96

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Categories of Software Used in Computer Assisted Instruction

  1. Drill and Practice--Repetitive practice on a particular discrete skill
  2. Tutorial--Computer instructs the student in some area of knowledge in somewhat the same way as a teacher in a one-to-one situation
  3. Simulation--Imitation of real or imaginary system based on a theory or model of that system
  4. Educational Games--Designed for fun; usually have a clear set of rules, some other method of keeping score, and a winner
  5. Productivity and Utilities--Help the teacher to be more efficient or effective as a professional educator; general or specialized programs designed to carry out specific functions

In general, research has not shown that the use of drill and practice or educational games has lead to achievement gains. There is some evidence that the use of simulations can lead to achievement gains, especially when it focuses on the development of critical thinking skills or some aspect of communication. There is also some evidence that the use of tutorials can have a positive impact on achievement; these findings will likely increase as the computers become more powerful and the software becomes more sophisticated. While the use of productivity tools and utilities are not generally designed to be used to increase academic achievement, their use has been found to increase interest in using computers. However, as is evidenced by the graph shown below, most teachers do not feel prepared to use computers for teaching purposes at the end of their undergraduate training.

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