The effect on retention of Computer Assisted Instruction in science education.
Article Type:
Sciences education (Research)
Computer-assisted instruction (Methods)
Computer-assisted instruction (Influence)
Academic achievement (Research)
Kara, Izzet
Pub Date:
Name: Journal of Instructional Psychology Publisher: George Uhlig Publisher Audience: Academic; Professional Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Education; Psychology and mental health Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2008 George Uhlig Publisher ISSN: 0094-1956
Date: Dec, 2008 Source Volume: 35 Source Issue: 4
Event Code: 310 Science & research
Geographic Scope: Turkey Geographic Code: 7TURK Turkey

Accession Number:
Full Text:
The aim of this research is to determine the retention effect of Computer Assisted Instruction (CAI) on students' academic achievement for teaching the Physics topics. The research includes the Force and Pressure units of 7th grade Science Lesson. In this research, 132 students were structured as both control and experiment groups. Traditional instruction (TI) method is used for control group while traditional instruction with teacher supervised CAI method is used for experiment group. Scientific subject test was applied as pre-test and post-test to both groups. 5 months latter, the Science Subject test was applied to both groups again. Significant differences between the Science Subject test scores of experiment and control group were found in favor of experiment group.

Keywords: Computer assisted instruction, Science Teaching, Retention


Instruction materials are among the assistant materials which teachers use them to make instruction more effective, lasting and enjoyable. Computers that are used as both a material and method and instructional materials are effective for making students concentrate on, understanding of, synthesizing and improving positive attitude towards the subject of the course. An instructional material makes the topic clearer and more lasting by making the topics that are abstract for students more concrete (Cepni et a1., 2004; Demirel, 2004). Therefore, the usage of visual instructional materials is so much important in the instruction of abstract concepts as being included in Science Lesson, understanding of the subject by students and improving positive attitude towards the course.

Nowadays, it is obvious that visual materials have been used in every field and technological devices, especially televisions and computers, have affected students. As a result of instructional materials that are supported by a variety of sound, image and animations are observed as more lasting, enjoyable and effective ones. Learning is resulted from seeing in %83, hearing in %11, smelling in %3,5, touching in %1,5 and tasting in % 1 (Demirel, 2004). Learning is resulted from seeing %75, hearing %13, smelling %6, touching %3 and tasting %3 (Kucukahmet,


There are experimental evidences that only oral explanation method doesn't work well. If principles of how students learn are taken into account, richness of the visual content makes instruction more lasting and effective (Mayer, 2003).

According to Cilenti and Kinder, in a fixed time, learning is gained by reading in %10, hearing in %20, seeing in %30, both seeing and hearing %50, telling %70 and doing and telling %90 (Simsek, 2002; Demirel, 2004; Yalin, 2006). This shows that visual materials supported by audio and animations are more effective on students' learning, perception and synthesizing

More sense organs deal with learning, faster and better instruction occurs. Instruction is so lasting. The best learning is doing and living oneself (Kucukahmet, 2001; Demirel, 2004).

For these reasons, we have to develop scientific lessons as the ones that are supported by visual and audio instructional materials to draw students' attention and so provide lasting learning, reflect science nature and accelerate learning.

The main purpose of the educational research is to find how to form a learning climate to provide lasting and upper level learning with a less expense and try in a shorter time (Yigit & Akdeniz; 2003). Using computers in classrooms is among the recent popular topics and ratio of Computer Assisted Instruction (CAI) and the use of computers in classroom are common and becoming widespread.

Lifestyles of people affect their learning styles and even determine how they learn and develop them. Therefore, provisions of educational and instructional materials having more visual content is necessary in order to teach to the person of this time who lives visually and are in the bombardment of visual knowledge (Cepni et al., 2004).

Today's students are maturing with visual devices like television, video, computer and Internet. It is not possible to draw these students' interest by using traditional methods that were used in the past. As a result of technological developments that appeared in the last quarter of the 20th century, a big difference occurred between the ways of introduction of knowledge at schools and the ways of getting knowledge in the society. Students get a lot of information by visually enriched resources like computers and television that are mostly used in our daily life. The way of gaining knowledge of students and so it becomes difficult to teach them with traditional methods (Cepni et al., 2004; London, 2005).

Nowadays it is clear that visual materials are used in every field and students are in the effect of technological devices like television and computer especially. As a result of supporting instructional materials with sound, image and animations, more lasting, more enjoyable and more effective instruction occurs (Demirel, 2004).

Little aged children are influenced more by visual stimulus than auditory ones (Halis, 2002). This situation makes it difficult to draw students' interest and to give them knowledge without using auditory and visual content at schools. CAI is a way to make instruction more interesting and to make knowledge more lasting.

A lot of researches were done on CAI in different countries including Turkey. These researches concluded in very different ways. Some researches found that CAI is beneficial for students' development (Cotton, 1991; Child, 1995; Brophy, 1999; Cekbas et al., 2003; Yenice, 2003; Carter, 2004; Moodly, 2004; Preciado, 2004; Brooks, 2005; Bryan, 2006; Cepni, 2006; Wilder, 2006; Liao, 2007). Some others could not find any significant difference between CAI and TI (Bayraktar, 2001; Alacapinar, 2003; Cetin, 2007).

Research findings have showed that the use of computers in science and math lessons as a tool towards application makes lessons more interesting and more encouraging. And so more complicated science concepts can be learnt in a more lasting and more effective way. Computers are used in a very different areas ranging from handwriting lesson to language development, from social sciences to science courses, from mathematics to preparing the students for life in education (Halis, 2002).

Especially, if it is taken in to account that primary school students have difficulties in learning of abstract concepts, educational technologies among which especially computers plays an important role in concretizing these concepts and presenting lively and being understood of them by observations (Akpinar et al., 2005).

Developments in technology bring new educational and instructional opportunities together. At the present time, people are not investigating the question of whether computers are effective in educational and instructional activities but they are investigating how to use them more effectively (Kara & Yakar, 2008). Some researches results showed that imaginary classes are %20 or %30 more effective than traditional classes (Schutte, 1996; Kahraman, 2007).

She & Lee (2008) investigated the effects of a scientific concept construction and reconstruction (SCCR), related to a "combustion" topic for sixth grade students' conceptual change and scientific reasoning. They found that the experimental group students significantly outperformed the conventional group students on both post- and retention-of Combustion Achievement Test (CAT), and Combustion Dependent Reasoning Test (CDRT) scores. They concluded that students' conceptual change their scientific reasoning ability could be promoted through an SCCR digital learning program.

Dinov, et. al., (2008) presented the results of the effectiveness of using Statistics Online Computational Resource (SOCR) tools at two different course intensity levels on three outcome measures: exam scores, student satisfaction and choice of technology to complete assignments. Learning styles assessment was completed at baseline. They used three very different designs for three different undergraduate classes. Each course included a treatment group, using the SOCR resources, and a control group, using classical instruction techniques. Their findings include marginal effects of the SOCR treatment per individual classes; however, pooling the results across all courses and sections, SOCR effects on the treatment groups were exceptionally robust and significant.

Delialioglu & Yildirim (2008) investigated the effectiveness of the hybrid instruction in regard to students' achievement, knowledge retention, attitudes towards the subject, and course satisfaction in comparison to traditional classroom instruction with model for learning and teaching activities (MOLTA). They concluded that there is no significant difference between the hybrid course and the traditional course in students' achievement, knowledge retention, satisfaction, and attitude.

Segers & Verhoeven (2005) examined the long-term effects of a computer intervention for the development of phonological awareness in Dutch kindergartners. Native Dutch and immigrant children worked with the software 15 min/week during one school year. Following a pretest--interim tests--post-test--retention test design, the effects on rhyming, phonemic segmentation, auditory blending, and grapheme knowledge were assessed. The result showed significant immediate effects on rhyming and grapheme knowledge. The time spent on the computer games also correlated with the learning gains for the experimental group. In the first grade, retention effects were demonstrated after 4 months of formal reading education.

CAI is the use of computers in educational and instructional activities (Brophy, 1999). The mostly known function of science instruction is to provide them with learning of these concepts well and so to make them be aware of how to use these concepts in their daily life (Cepni et. al., 2006).

The best example of integrity of science and technology is CAI. In CAI, computers, which are described as the most effective communication and individual instruction means of time, are used in order to keep up with technology and standards of time (Yenice, 2003).

From these perspectives, the purpose of this research is to point out whether students' academic achievement will continue when a teacher studies force and pressure topics that are among physics topics of 7th grade science lesson controlled CAI.

Materials and Method

In this research, a science subject test of force and pressure topics was applied to 7th grade students as a pre-test, a post-test and a retention test after 5 months. This research is an experimental and quantitative study of real test model of controlled pre-test and post-test model. In this research, there are two groups as experiment having the lessons with CAI and control group having the lessons with TI.

The population of this study was all 7th grade elementary school students in City of Denizli in 2007 academic year. The Cluster Sampling method was used as a sampling procedure because the unit chosen was not an individual but a group of individuals who were naturally together (Ary, Jacobs & Razavieh, 1996). Therefore, Ataturk Elementary School was randomly selected as a sample and 132 students and 6 teachers were included in this study. Since teachers' experiences and knowledge about computer literacy are equal, 6 CAI classes were chosen randomly.

In order to prevent the researcher's prejudice, the science teachers themselves study science lessons. Another assumption here is the effect on students' achievement because of teachers' characteristics isn't big enough to affect our study. A 25-question subject test about force and pressure units with reliability of ct = 0.85 was developed in order to measure academic achievement. This developed science subject test was applied as a pre-test, a post-test and a retention test to both groups.

In this study, 3 programs that were prepared for CAI were used. These are "Mobides CAI systems", "Vitamin Educational Program" and "Educational Program" developed with MS-frontpage program.

Information about students' personality and family is investigated in order to balance the students' groups. After this balancing, paired and unpaired t-tests were measured in order to see whether there is a difference between students' groups who had been defined as experiment and control groups before. For all statistical analysis, 0.05 significance level was used.

Result and Discussions

Participants in this study consisted of 58 (%49) female and 57 (%51) male students. Control group was composed of 34 (%49) female students and 34 (%51) male students whereas experiment group was composed of 23 (%49) female students and 24 (%51) male students.

Independent sample t-test results demonstrated that there is no statistically significant difference between experiment and control groups' students' pre-test results (t = 1.76; p > 0.05). Mean and standard deviation scores of the groups and t-test results are given in Table 1 in details.

According to these results, it can be said that the knowledge levels of experiment and control groups' students were at the same level at the beginning of the course.

According to post-test results that were gained after the application of the course, a statistically meaningful difference was found between experiment and control groups' posttest scores (t = 6.36; p < 0.05). As shown in Table 2, when we look at the groups' mean scores in order to understand that whose side this difference is in favor of, post-test scores of experiment group students are determined as higher than post-test scores of control group students. That means, there is determined a significantly meaningful difference for the achievement levels at the end of the course in favor of experiment group students.

Retention test was applied 5 months later than post-test application in order to see the retention effect of carried out education on experiment and control groups on students' achievement. As a result of retention test application, independent-samples t-test was used in order to see whether there was a statistically meaningful difference between both groups' scores. Results were summarized in Table 3.


According to information given in Table 3, a statistically meaningful difference was found between the retention results of experiment and control groups (t = 6.86; p < 0.05). Both groups' mean scores in order to understand that whose side this difference is in favor of, retention test scores of experiment group students are determined as higher than retention test scores of control group students. That means, retention level of the achievement test of the course for experiment group students is determined as higher than retention level of the achievement test of the course for control group students. This result shows that CAI not only provides better learning but also helps longer retention of gained properties.

Figure 1 shows that experiment group's gain level is higher than control group's one. This situation is seen as continuing at retention test after 5 months.

If we look retention test into account, experiment group students have lost less knowledge than control group student according to post-test results. That means, CAI show retention effect. Although change is little for both groups, retention scores of CAI are closer than the ones of IT. It results in that CAI is more effective in lasting achievement. There is a positive effect of educational technology on learning, without any doubt (Mihalca and Miclea, 2003).

Results of this research determined that there is a significantly meaningful difference between pre-test and post-test scores at Science Achievement test of both experiment and control groups. This shows that not only TI but also CAI are effective on students' academic achievement. A main effect of CAI on retention: participants learning with animated pictures remembered more elements than participants learning with static graphics. A positive effect of dynamic presentation appeared.

Another result of this research is that while there was not any significantly meaningful difference on both groups' pre-test scores, there found a difference at post-test scores in favor of experiment group. According to this result, CAI is more effective than TI on students' academic achievement. If we compare the groups' mean scores, the difference between gain levels increased almost nearly two times highly in favor of experiment group.

CAI will be effective in getting rid of misconceptions completely with the help of technological course materials that are prepared well in terms of pedagogical and science content aspects. According to Ivowi (1984), the main causes of the misconceptions in students can be traced to teachers and some available textbooks.

Instructional program is the most effective factor of CAI in increase of retention level. Preparation of instructional program must be a fact of teamwork. Only a single researcher can develop a program oneself but this program will be lack of some properties. If we think about human's mental properties, it should be thought that researcher prepares a program according to his or her own mental power. One of he most effective and the most interesting CAI programs is simulations. With the use of not only laboratories but also course-aimed simulations, more economic and more effective application can be achieved. It should be taken care of appropriateness to students, curriculum, visual properties and motivation characteristic of the CAI programs.


The work was supported by 2007, FBE018, BAP, Pamukkale University.


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Izzet Kara, Faculty of Education, Pamukkale University, 20070 Denizli, Turkey.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Izzet Kara at ikara@pau.
Table 1
Pre-test scores of Science Achievement Test

Groups       N    Mean    Standard Deviation    t      p

Experiment   47   5.55           3.05          1.76   0.08
Control      85   4.63           2.54          1.76   0.08

Table 2
Post-test scores of Science Achievement Test

Groups       N    Mean    Standard Deviation    t      p

Experiment   47   15.38          3.77          6.36    0
Control      85   10.93          3.64          6.36    0

Table 3
Retention Scores of Science Achievement Test

Groups       N    Mean    Standard Deviation    t      p

Experiment   47   14.13          3.81          6.86    0
Control      85    8.9           4.15          6.86    0
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