CEC Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

1999

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Graduate School of Computer and Information Sciences

Advisor

Steven R. Terrell

Committee Member

Laurie Dringus

Committee Member

Maxine S. Cohen

Abstract

Many teachers lament the fact that they often need to spend too much classroom time training students how to use a particular software program before their students can use it effectively as a tool to complete other course work. Also, after completing the training process, too many students still have not mastered the basics of how to use the program effectively. The purpose of this research was to increase understanding of how the use of cooperative groups during new software training affects both the mastery of the basics of program use, as well as the amount of time needed to learn the basics.

The students in the study were high school sophomores learning to use the dynamic geometry program, The Geometer's Sketchpad. These students were divided into three groups. Each student in the control group worked independently of one another through training materials at separate computers. The students in the other two groups worked through the training materials in cooperative pairs. In one experimental group, each pair shared a single computer and in the other experimental group each student of the cooperative pair had access to a separate computer. After completing the training sessions, each student in the study worked independently through an assessment activity.

The results of the research study indicated that the use of cooperative pairs while learning to use a new software program had a statistically significant effect on the amount of time needed by the students to learn the basics of using the software program. The research also revealed that the way in which the cooperative pairs shared computers made a difference. Students who went through the training process utilizing cooperative pairs with one computer per pair used significantly less time to complete the training tutorials than students who trained in cooperative pairs with a separate computer for each student. The study also indicates that the training method used, whether individual or some form of cooperative pairs, had little or no effect on the mastery of the basics of program use. The researcher mentions several limitations of the study which may have contributed to the similarity of results observed between training methods, including the lack of difficulty of the materials being learned, the validity of the post-assessment activities used, and the small sample sizes of the groups.

It is suggested that more research in the area of using cooperative pairs during the training process needs to be completed before schools drastically change their current training formats. The one noted exception to this is that schools that currently make use of cooperative pairs during the training process may find it advantageous to have the two students in each pair share a single computer. The suggestion is made that additional research should be carried out with larger sample sizes and should concentrate on two groups, a control group, with one computer per student working through the training materials independently, and an experimental group in which students work in cooperative pairs with a single computer for each pair.

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