The effectiveness of computer based learning
Is the innovation of educational computing likely to be effective in facilitating the development of children's minds? The research reported in this thesis approached the question by investigating two issues related to the introduction of classroom computers. Firstly, is the educational environment receptive to the new technology, and secondly, can computer-based learning make significant changes in the development of children's cognitive ability? The study of attitudes to educational computing was conducted using questionnaire techniques over a three year period, sampling more than 300 teachers and teachers-in-training. There were two main goals: to measure and compare the attitudes of serving teachers and teachers-in-training, and to identify factors influencing the development of these attitudes. Four main attitudinal groups were identified by a cluster analysis, with more positive than negative statements being made, in general. Positive attitudes revolved around the potential of the computer to promote more child-centred learning, and around its usefulness across a wide spectrum of the curriculum. The investigations of the role of the computer in developing children's minds, conducted using experimental and case study techniques, also had two main strands. A series of experiments determined the children's knowledge of the ways in which data can be organised, a pre-requisite for the use of classroom databases. The experiments suggested that junior school children should be able to use two-dimensional data structures even though they might have difficulty in constructing them. The second strand in these investigations was to observe the effects of the use of computer databases upon classificatory ability, Using pre-test post-test comparisons children were found to benefit from the use of proprietary software in that their logical thought improved. The detailed observation of eighteen case studies confirmed the usefulness of data-bases in the development of children's thinking. The study by using a number of research techniques has demonstrated that the educational community is prepared to accept the innovation of classroom computers, and that significant cognitive gains will accrue by doing so.