# Using Microcomputer-Assisted Mathematics Instruction to Develop Computer Literacy

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<ul><li><p>119</p><p>Using Microcomputer-AssistedMathematics Instruction toDevelop Computer Literacy</p><p>Kathleen J. SteeleMichael T. BattistaGerald H. Krockover</p><p>By 1985 it is estimated that schoolswill have purchased over one millionmicrocomputers. How should thesemachines be utilized in instruction?Currently, educators are pursuingtwo distinct lines of inquiry. First,there has been a renewed interest inthe use of computer-assisted instruc-tion (CAI), especially at the ele-mentary school level. According toZinn, even though CAI has beenutilized in education for manyyears, the use of CAI did not gain afoothold in the elementary schoolsuntil the introduction of the micro-computer in the late 1970s.2 Second,there have been numerous calls forthe development of the computer lit-eracy of all students. Indeed, theNational Council of Supervisors ofMathematics has included computerliteracy as one of its ten areas ofbasic skills.3 Thus it would seemthat there are two major questionsthat educators must attempt to an-</p><p>School Science and MathematicsVolume 84 (2) February 1984</p></li><li><p>120 Microcomputer-Assisted Mathematics</p><p>swer about the use of microcomputers in schools: How effective is mi-crocomputer-assisted instruction in promoting learning, and how can thecomputer literacy of students be developed? A research study that weconducted with fifth grade students suggests possible solutions to bothquestions.4 This article will describe possible implications of this researchfor teachers and administrators interested in developing computer liter-acy in their students.Moursund has defined computer literacy as knowledge of the non-</p><p>technical and low-technical aspects of the capabilities and limitations ofcomputers, and of the social, vocational, and educational implications ofcomputer use.5 Johnson, Anderson, Hansen, and Klassen have devel-oped a similar definition of computer literacy along with an evaluationinstrument based upon this definition. Their instrument, the MinnesotaComputer Literacy and Awareness Assessment, includes both affectiveand cognitive objectives.6 The affective objectives relate to the degree ofpleasure related to computers, level of stress attributed to computers,level of confidence exhibited in working with computers, and attitudetoward the use of computers in schools. The cognitive objectives relate toa basic understanding of the major components of a computer (hard-ware), basic understanding of storage systems for programs and data(software), ability of students to follow, modify, correct, and develop al-gorithms (programming), basic knowledge of how computers are used insociety, and possible positive and negative effects of computer use.</p><p>ProblemDickerson and Pritchard contend that computer literacy can be de-veloped by using microcomputers in the schools in conjunction withclassroom instruction.7 In order to examine the effect of using a micro-computer in conjunction with classroom mathematics instruction, a ninemonth study utilizing 87 fifth-grade students from a small midwesterncommunity was conducted. The questions that were asked as part of thisstudy were:</p><p>1) What will be the effect of computer-assisted mathematics instruction upon the com-puter literacy of fifth grade students using a microcomputer?</p><p>2) Does the effect of computer-assisted mathematics instruction upon computer lit-eracy depend on the intellectual ability of the students?</p><p>3) Is computer-assisted mathematics drill and practice superior to individualized non-computer-assisted drill and practice?</p><p>ProceduresStudents from the CAI and control groups were classified into intellec-tual ability levels using the California Short-Form Test of Mental Matur-</p><p>School Science and MathematicsVolume 84 (2) February 1984</p></li><li><p>Microcomputer-Assisted Mathematics 121</p><p>ity.8 Computer literacy was measured by the Minnesota Computer Lit-eracy and Awareness Assessment.9 Mathematics achievement in the areasof computation, concepts, and problem solving was measured by theMathematical Section of the Metropolitan Achievement Test, Form F.10The CAI group used Math Sequences, a commercially available</p><p>computer-assisted drill and practice series designed for microcomputeruse.11 It is based upon research and computer-assisted instructional pro-grams designed by Patrick Suppes and others at Stanford University.The students were scheduled to work with the microcomputer for 10 min-utes, two times a week for one school year (nine months). This 10 minuteperiod was dedicated to drill and practice, and was in addition to thedaily scheduled mathematics period guided by the teacher.The Math Sequence program included problems in the areas of addi-</p><p>tion, subtraction, multiplication, division, laws of arithmetic, negativenumbers, fractions, decimals, and percents. Problems were presented invertical, horizontal and missing number formats. There was an averageof 50 different problem levels for each sequence. The number of prob-lems given at each problem level increased as difficulty increased. Eachstudent started at the first level of difficulty and proceeded at his or herown pace to levels of higher difficulty.To use the mathematical program, students called up assigned prob-</p><p>lem levels by entering their names and a secret password into the micro-computer. One problem at a time appeared on the screen. The studententered an answer to the problem, and immediate feedback was receivedfor each correct or incorrect response.</p><p>Progress for each student was constantly monitored by the microcom-puter. At each problem level a minimum number of correctly completedproblems was required. The number of required problems differed foreach problem level, with higher levels requiring a greater number ofproblems. When a student completed the minimum number of problemsat assigned problem level with an overall score of 70% or higher, the stu-dent advanced to the next problem level. If the student missed threeproblems in a row or if the students score fell below 30% after the mini-mum number of problems had been solved, the microcomputer programlowered the student one problem level. If the students overall score wasbetween 30% and 70%, the microcomputer program continued to gener-ate problems at the students assigned level.When the answer was correct, the student was given a positive state-</p><p>ment of reinforcement. Examples of positive affirmationswere: ^Yeah!" "You Did It!" "Wow!" and "Great!" If the answer</p><p>School Science and MathematicsVolume 84 (2) February 1984</p></li><li><p>122 Microcomputer-Assisted Mathematics</p><p>was incorrect, the student was given a negative statement. Examples ofnegative expressions were: "Boo!" "Try Again!" and "No!" The stu-dent was then given the same problem. If the question was correctly an-swered on the second try, the student received a positive symbol. If thequestion was answered incorrectly the second time, the correct answerappeared and flashed on the visual display unit.The control group used the Singer Individualized Mathematics Drill</p><p>and Practice Kit at the intermediate difficulty level.12 This program wasdeveloped at Stanford University by Patrick Suppes and Max Jerman,based on their research on computer-assisted mathematics programs.The students were scheduled to work with the individualized kit for 10minutes, two times a week, for one school year (nine months). This 10minute period was dedicated to drill and practice and was in addition tothe daily scheduled mathematics period guided by the teacher.The Singer Individualized Mathematics Drill and Practice Kit included</p><p>problems in the areas of addition, subtraction, multiplication, division,laws of arithmetic, negative numbers, fractions, decimals, ratio and per-cent, and units of measures. The topics of ratio, percent and units ofmeasure were not used in order to keep the mathematical subject matterparallel to the CAI program. Problems were presented in vertical, hori-zontal, and missing number formats.To get started in the drill and practice kit, each student took a pretest</p><p>to determine the level of difficulty needed for practice. The pretest scorefor each student was entered on a student profile card. This card wasused to show the students level and progress on individual mathematicsblocks. Each block consisted of five practice lessons at five levels of diffi-culty. The first two levels consisted of problems which were below gradelevel. The next level contained problems of average difficulty. The finaltwo levels presented challenging problems for students who were work-ing above grade level. The student worked the card assigned and immedi-ately checked the answers which were located on the back of the card.The next assignment was given to the student according to the number ofcorrect problems. The student proceeded through five cards consisting of20 problems each, then took a post-test which was checked by theteacher. The score was recorded on the students profile card. Each stu-dent then received remediation from the teacher on an individualizedbasis or proceeded to the next block.</p><p>ConclusionsIn summary, the following conclusions were warranted:</p><p>School Science and MathematicsVolume 84 (2) February 1984</p></li><li><p>Microcomputer-Assisted Mathematics 123</p><p>1) The computation scores of the CAI group improved significantly more than those ofthe control group, but there were no differences between the groups on gains in con-cept or problem solving scores.</p><p>2) The CAI group showed a significantly greater gain than the control group in boththe affective and cognitive domains of computer literacy. It appeared that interact-ing with a microcomputer for drill and practice in mathematics increased studentsknowledge about computers even though no explicit discussion of computer topicswas given by the teachers. Perhaps students exposure to computers and their result-ing positive attitudes made them more aware of computer-related information andmore receptive to learning about computers.</p><p>3) The differences between the CAI and control groups on gains in computer literacyscores were evident for all three levels of intellectual abilitylow, middle, and high.However, the difference was greatest at the high level, with the high level of the CAIgroup showing the largest pre to post-test gain and the high level of the controlgroup showing the only pre to post-test decline in computer literacy. Thus there wassome indication that high ability students who are not exposed to computer technol-ogy might exhibit some decline in attitude towards computers.</p><p>RecommendationsBased upon the results of our study, there are several recommendationsthat can be made for educators interested in developing computer literatestudents.</p><p>1) The use of computer-assisted drill and practice in mathematics instruction can pro-vide an excellent vehicle for developing computer literacy.</p><p>2) Long periods of time with a microcomputer are not necessary to begin to developcomputer literacy; ten minutes per day, two days per week for the school year canserve as an excellent beginning.</p><p>3) High ability students who are not involved with microcomputers are having theirgreat potential neglected.</p><p>4) Microcomputers can have a significant positive impact upon low ability students.These students also need to become involved with microcomputers.</p><p>5) Microcomputer-assisted mathematics instruction can improve or maintain studentmathematics achievement while also developing their computer literacy.13</p><p>Teachers and administrators must continue to implement computereducation programs in their schools. This study indicates that using com-puter-assisted drill and practice programs in mathematics instruction isone way to begin developing the basic computer literacy of elementaryschool students. Future studies should focus on additional ways to fur-ther enhance the development of computer literate students.References1. Gleason, G. T. Microcomputers in Education: The State of the Art. Educational</p><p>Technology, 1981,27,7-18.2. Zinn, K. L. Computers in Science Teaching: Today and Tomorrow. What Research</p><p>Says to the Science Teacher. 1979,2, 101-117.3. National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics. Position Statements on Basic Skills.</p><p>Mathematics Teacher, 1978, 77, 147-152.</p><p>School Science and MathematicsVolume 84 (2) February 1984</p></li><li><p>124 Microcomputer-Assisted Mathematics</p><p>4. Steele, K. S. The Effect of Computer-assisted Mathematical Instruction upon theComputer Literacy of Fifth-grade Students Using a Microcomputer. Unpublisheddoctoral dissertation. West Lafayette, Indiana: Purdue University, 1981.</p><p>5. Moursund, D. What Is Computer Literacy? Oregon Council/or Computer Education,1975,2,2.</p><p>6. Johnson, D. C., R. E. Anderson, T. P. Hansen, and D. L. Klassen. Computer Lit-eracyWhat Is It? Mathematics Teacher, 1980, 73. 91-96.</p><p>7. Dickerson, L. and W. H. Pritchard, Jr. Microcomputers and Education: Planning forthe Coming Revolution in the Classroom. Educational Technology, 1981, 27, 7-12.</p><p>8. Sullivan, E. T., W. W. dark, and E. W. Tiegs. California Short-Form Test of MentalMaturity. Monterey, California: California Test Bureau, 1963.</p><p>9. Anderson, R. E., T. P. Hansen, D. C. Johnson, and D. L. Klassen. Minnesota Com-puter Literacy and Awareness Assessment, Form 8. St. Paul, Minnesota: Special Proj-ects, Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium, 1979.</p><p>10. Durost, W. N., H. H. Bixler, J. W. Wrightstone, G. A. Prescott, and I. H. Balow.Metropolitan Achievement Tests, Form F. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc., 1971.</p><p>11. Milliken Publishing Company. Math Sequences. St. Louis, Missouri: WICAT, 1980.12. Suppes, P., and M. Jerman. Individualized Mathematics Drill and Practice Kit. New</p><p>York: L. W. Singer, 1969.13. Burns, P. K. and W. C. Bozeman. Computer-assisted Instruction and Mathematics</p><p>Achievement: Is There a Relationship? Educational Technology, 1981, 27, 32-29.</p><p>Kathleen J. Steele Michael T. BattistaCrawfordsville Community Kent State University</p><p>School Corporation Kent, OhioCrawfordsville, IndianaGerald H. KrockoverPurdue UniversityWest Lafayette, Indiana 47907</p><p>SPOTLIGHT ON SCIENCE, MATHAND EDUCATION</p><p>The spotlight focused on science, mathematics and education as congressionalstaff buckled down to the new technological issues lacing the United States. Over20 bills relating to science, mathematics and education were introduced in Con-gress before the 1982 recess ranging from grant programs to student loan pro-grams. Fellowships, research support, teacher-training programs, and grants toelementary and secondary schools to upgrade and expand math and science pro-grams were introduced as legislative initiatives.</p><p>School Science and MathematicsVolume 84 (2) February 1984</p></li></ul>

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