As outlined in Table 1, the four junior schools accounted for 94 students. There were 44 males and 50 females. The academic status of the students ranged from average to below average. The 49 senior school students whose academic standard was mainly above average comprised of 21 males and 28 females. Twenty-eight males and 19 females accounted for the 47 students from the two private schools. The academic ability of these students ranged from below to above average.
Eight of the thirteen student-teachers, who were pursuing the post-graduate Diploma in Education, and taught mathematics at grades 7 or 8, participated in the study at their respective schools. Four student-teachers worked with the experimental groups and the other four student-teachers taught the control groups. The teachers who worked with the experimental groups were purposefully selected because they had easy access to a computer at their schools and three of them had relevant computer skills. All the student-teachers completed a course in Mathematics Pedagogy and at least one semester of practicum.
Table 2: Teaching experience at present school
Table 2 shows that 50% and 25% of the teachers from the control group and experimental group respectively had more than two years teaching experience. In addition, 3 or 75% of the student-teachers from both the experimental group and control groups were full-time teachers.
As outlined in Table 3, four schools were used as the experimental group and another four parallel schools were used as the control group. Eight schools representing the three types of secondary schools were used in the study. These were; two pairs of junior, one pair of senior and one pair of private secondary schools. Discussion with officials from the Ministry of Education confirmed the equivalence of the parallel schools selected.
Table 3: Schools in the Pre-test Post-test Design
The selection of the control and the experimental schools was limited to the schools at which the student-teachers had practicum and the willingness of their school to participate in the study. Six Grade 7 and two Grade 8 classes were used in the study. Algebra was taught at the 4 junior schools, Geometry was taught at the two senior schools and Measurement at the 2 private schools.
Three instruments were used in this study: two cognitive tests, a classroom observation checklist, and an interview schedule. In keeping with the pre-test – post-test equivalent group design, four 20-item multiple choice tests were prepared by the student-teachers after consultation between teachers from parallel schools. One test was used as the pre-test and a parallel test was used as the post-test. The same structure and methodology were used to prepare the pre-test and the post-test. The test content reflected the schemes of work of the four parallel schools and the cognitive levels of questions were recall (5), comprehension (10) and problem solving (5). The research team reviewed the tests to ensure that they were unbiased, well written and related to the Mathematics curriculum.
The post-test served as both the post-test and re-test. The re-test was administered six weeks after the post-test to examine the students’ level of retention. It was believed that administering the same multiple choice test three rather than two times might have led to the contamination of the results. The STATA (9.2) statistical software was used to process a regression analysis on the true difference of both the post-test and re-test scores applying the robust standard error. The post-test minus the pre-test and the re-test minus the pre-test was used as the true difference. Fixed effect was used on schools to wipe out the differences in the levels of schools.
To address the fourth research question, “What are the factors affecting the implementation of the one-computer classroom?” An 8-item Classroom Observation Instrument was employed. The items focused on: (a) Planning: preparation and presentation; (b) Interaction: managing learning activities, and (c) Knowledge of subject matter. The participants were assessed on each item, reserving the highest scores for unusually effective performances. The scores were: Excellent (5), Good (4), Satisfactory (3), Unsatisfactory (2), and Poor (1). The mean score of the three Observations for each item was computed and treated as the participant’s regular practice in his or her classroom. The column on the Observation Form labeled Comments was used to record striking observations and highlights for the Feedback Conference with the student-teacher.
An interview schedule was prepared by the three researchers to address the fourth research question. It was administered at the end of the treatment to the four teachers who taught the experimental groups. The 10-item instrument was intended to capture those factors, within and outside the classroom, affecting the implementation of the one- computer classroom.
The student-teachers of the four control and experimental groups coordinated their work plan which reflected their scheme of work for 10 to 12 lessons. The three researchers guided the student-teachers through the planning, presentation and evaluation stages of their classroom practice via classroom visit, telephone conversation and e-mail.
All lessons were conducted as time-tabled by the participating school. The pedagogy employed by the four teachers of the experimental group was aided by the use of a television as a computer monitor. These teachers provided clear attractive power-point presentations with appropriate pictures and diagrams. Solutions to homework and class work were also projected on the monitor to maximize class time. Both the monitor and chalkboard were used as instructional tools. However, the control groups did not have access to the computer technology and employed the standard conventional mode of instruction.
The eight student-teachers from the eight participating schools worked in pairs (one control and one experimental) to map out the mathematics content for the project. The four sets of content guided the construction of the pre-test which was administered to the four pairs of control and experimental groups before the teaching commenced. The six student-teacher researchers from the public schools taught twelve mathematics lessons while the two from the private schools had ten lessons. Four sets of content [Table 3] were taught to the four pairs of parallel classes but the experimental group received instruction using computer technology.
The post-tests were administered within one week after the teaching sessions and re-administered six weeks later. The students were unaware that the same post-test would have been re-administered and no revision of the content was done by the teachers. The researchers acted as moderators for the pre-test, post-test and the re-test.
There was an initial visit to each of the eight schools to formalize the school’s participation with the project. Permission to conduct the research was granted by both the Ministry of Education and the Head teachers of participating schools. All the participants were willing to participate in the project. In addition, all the necessary hardware (video card), software and cables were supplied and installed at the four experimental schools. One of the schools used a laptop and the other three schools used desk top computers.
A supervisor was assigned to each student-teacher. The student-teachers were guided through the planning, presentation and evaluation stages by the three researchers. Each student-teacher had at least three school visits. During the classroom observations, factors affecting the implementation of one-computer technology in mathematics classroom were recorded.
In addition, after the teaching and testing period, a focus group interview on the factors influencing the implementation of one-computer technology in mathematics classroom was conducted with the four student-teachers who worked with the experimental groups.
FINDINGS AND ANALYSIS
Basically, the impact of computer aided instruction on students’ performance and factors affecting the implementation of one-computer technology in mathematics classroom were examined in this study. The first two questions addressed Differentials in Performance with and without the One-Computer Technology. The third question dealt with Differential Performances among Groups, Schools, and Gender and the fourth question focused on Affects on the One-Computer Classroom.
Differentials in Performance with and without the One-Computer Technology
The results of the regression model, presented in Table 4, addressed the research questions: (1) Is there any significant difference in performance between students who were exposed to computer-supported instruction and those who were exposed to the conventional mode of instruction? and (2) Is there any significant difference in performance of females and males who were exposed to computer aided instruction?
Table 4: Group and p-value
There was a significant difference in the students’ overall performance. In other words, the performance of the experimental group was significantly better than the control group with a p-value of 0.011 at the 5% conventional level. Instructional technology can enhance student performance. The high level of motivation generated by the computer via real-life images, attractive graphics and text resulted in effective learning.
However, the females recorded significant results at the conventional level of 5% but the result of their male counterparts was only significant at the 10% level. The visual simulation created by the computer probably had a greater impact on the females than males.
Differential Performances among Groups, Schools, and Gender
The third research question was “How does the performance of the students who were exposed to the computer technology compare with those who were exposed to the conventional mode of teaching in terms of: (a) groups, (b) type of schools and (c) gender?” The analysis that follows gives a description of students by whole group, schools, experimental and control groups and gender.
Table 5: Overall performance by group
Firstly, Table 5 shows the overall performance by group. The score in all categories recorded showed a relatively high degree of dispersion around the mean. The maximum gain over the pre-test ranged from 50% to 60% but the control group recorded the lowest range. Likewise, the control group recorded the lowest mean of the true difference at less than 60% retention rate when compared with a retention rate of more than 90% for the experimental group. The findings revealed that the computer-aided instruction did not only improve students’ performance but their level of retention of knowledge was higher.
Table 6: Overall performance by type of school
Secondly, Table 6 shows the overall performance by type of school. The senior schools showed a very high level of retention and a better spread of the scores. The junior schools recorded the lowest maximum gain at both the post-test and the re-test. Nevertheless, the junior schools recorded the highest mean of the true difference and the retention level of 72.2% was significantly better than the private schools, which was 41.17%. Students with relatively lower academic ability benefited the most in terms of gains in mathematics performance.
Table 7: Experimental (E) versus Control (C) by Type of School
In addition, as presented in Table 7, the senior school’s experimental group recorded the highest retention level and the best spread of scores but, unlike the junior and private schools, the control group performed better than the experimental group. The senior school control group probably did better than the experimental group because, unlike the experimental group, they were exposed to similar concepts in Geometry during their Technical Drawing classes during the conduct of the study. Reinforcement usually enhances learning.
The most striking result was that the junior school’s experimental group recorded the highest true difference mean for both the post-test and the re-test. This strongly indicates that the computer-aided instruction had a positive impact on student performance. In contrast, when compared with the experimental group, the control group recorded a true difference mean of only half that of the post-test and one-fifth of the re-test.
The private schools had students with the broadest range of academic ability. The mean true difference of both the post-test and re-test of the control group indicated that many students performed the same or worse than the pre-test. This unusual situation was probably due to the fact that the teachers did not capitalize on students high pre-test scores. These teachers were apparently overwhelmed by the students’ previous knowledge of area and perimeter and did little to encourage their students to think mathematically to extend their knowledge. Nonetheless, the experimental group had a higher true difference mean than the senior school but their level of retention was the lowest.
Table 8:Experimental (E) versus Control (C) by Gender
Finally, Table 8 shows the overall performance by gender. The females recorded a lesser maximum gain in performance but the highest retention level and true difference for both the post-test and re-test. Also, their spread of scores was more homogenous than the males. Further examination of the females’ experimental group revealed that the retention level of the female was 100% compared with 77.49% of the males. The impact of the one-computer classroom favoured the females much more than the males.
On the other hand, the poor performance of the females in the control group was similar to their male counterpart. The mean true difference for the female control group re-test was only about 30% of what experimented group recorded.
Affects on the One-Computer Classroom
Data to respond to the fourth research question “What are the factors affecting the implementation of the one-computer classroom?” was collected via classroom observations and teachers’ interview.
The four student-teachers who conducted the one-computer classroom reflected on their general experience and highlighted some factors that affected their one-computer classroom.
Seventy-five percent of the teachers believed that the computer aided instruction helped the majority of weak students improve their performance. All the teachers reported that their students were eager to learn, highly motivated and were actively involved during the lessons. Consequently, the retention of the content learned lasted longer.
All the student-teachers reported strong support from their Head Teachers but experienced non-cooperation from some members of the senior staff. The student-teachers linked the non-cooperation to lack of vision by members of the school boards in terms of technological innovations. They lamented on the need to train teachers to adopt the one-computer classroom.
Some physical problems were also identified. Two student-teachers expressed the need to have better seating arrangements to ensure that every student gets the best vantage point to view the television monitor. There was also the problem transporting the computer and television to the classroom, especially in multi-storey buildings, without the aid of a trolley.
Unlike the one-computer classroom which generated a high level of motivation, most of the lessons with the control groups lacked enthusiasm. Teachers were unable to generate and sustain students’ enthusiasm in the classroom although they were engaged in task related activities.
The teachers who worked with the experimental group showed stronger evidence of planning and preparation. The teachers in the one-computer classroom were free from excessive writing on chalkboard which resulted in more time for essential teachers’ activities such as monitoring students’ work and marking books.
The conduct of the one-computer classroom was not without problems. Teachers were uncomfortable with the time spent preparing the power point presentations. The lack of this type of teaching experience resulted in some teachers loading too much information on one slide and showing some discomfort in effectively managing the level of classroom discourse created by the students’ high level of motivation.
Computer technology is part of the educational landscape. The one-computer classroom offers a cost-effective way to accelerate high quality delivery of the mathematics curriculum especially to students with average and below average mathematical ability. The following recommendations should be considered in the implementation of the one-computer classroom.
Mathematics teachers need to find new ways of gaining students’ enthusiasm and their effectiveness in mathematics classrooms if they are to enhance students’ performance in mathematics. The results showed that computer supported instruction had a positive impact on student performance in mathematics. Using the one-computer technology in mathematics teaching helped teachers motivate most of their students to learn mathematics.
Mathematics should help children make sense of the world around them and find meaning in the physical world. Using computers have not only expanded the horizon of instruction in the classroom and helped students in becoming confident active real-world learners but it helped with the retention of concepts. We know that mathematics learning takes place in the mind. The longer the images stay in the mind the easier for the learner to process mathematical ideas.
Special attention should be given to the fact that females made more significant progress than the males following the computer-aided instructions and further research and investigation could look at why some students made extremely rapid progress while others did not.
Initially, some school administrators failed to see the need for their teachers to use technology in the classroom. Their confidence level towards the use of technology in the classroom increased with formal training. Nonetheless, teachers’ beliefs and values must be shaped if they are to adjust their instructional practices to include the use of computers as a cognitive tool.
Reflection on the fact that all the participants were post graduate students, we share the view that higher education can serve as a catalyst towards effective use of instructional technology (Mistretta, 2005). Computer technology is not only the fashion but we live in a highly developed technological environment and teachers will be forced at some point to utilize technology in the classroom. However, the technology cannot substitute poor quality teaching and lack of content knowledge. It only supplements what takes place in the classroom.
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