Computer-based education: a comparison of implementations and study of personality variables



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Texas Tech University


While it is clear that the computer is a viable tool for current and future educators, many questions surround its use. Will computer-based education be implemented in the best possible way, and what is this way? Two terms which must be distinguished are computer-assisted instruction (CAI) where the computer assumes an instructional role, and computer-managed instruction (CMI) with the primary function of a management information system. This study has two primary purposes. First, it involved a comparison of four implementations of CMI: CAI self-paced, CAI instructor-paced, Non-CAI self-paced, and Non-CAI instructor-paced. All conditions involved an introductory college-level psychology course. Measures of student performance and attitudes were obtained. Second, it involved an attempt to identify individual difference variables that would predict performance across or within each of these conditions. During the first two weeks of the semester, all students were given the Eysanck Personality Inventory, the Rotter Locus of Control Orientation Scale, the Computer Attitude Scale, and the Leisure Preference Scale, and completed a demographic questionnaire. Smaller numbers of students completed the Nelson-Denny vocabulary test and attitude questionnaires. Student attitudes toward the course were measured at midterm and at the end of the semester. Results of this study suggest that relationships between individual difference variables and performance within and across sections are scant. The exception being the Nelson-Denny vocabulary test, which correlated highly with measures of class performance, particularly in the Non-CAI self-paced condition. Second, it appeared that the addition of CAI to a computer-managed course resulted in performance decrements and less positive attitudes toward the course, particularly when measured at the end of the semester. Finally, the present study suggests that a self-paced computer-managed format can result in student performance and attitudes which are comparable to those found when an instructor-paced format is used.