An exploratory study of the relationship between learner control patterns and course completion in computer assisted instruction

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


The study was designed to discover how conununity college students used the available learner control features of the TICCIT computer assisted instruction system, and to determine whether those students who completed all the course requirements of two TICCIT delivered courses within an eleven week academic term used different strategies to work through the instructional materials than those students who did not complete the courses. One hundred and forty eight students who enrolled in a developmental level Algebra I course and freshman level· English grammar course participated in the study. Sixty-seven students met the criteria for course completion; 81 were non-completers. A log tape record was kept of the keypresses made by the subjects as they progressed through the topics of the lesson selected for the study. The sequences of keypresses resulted in the classification of nine different strategy patterns which were analyzed by means of chi-square contingency tables.

The findings were that community college students made use of the learner control options presented to them by TICCIT to develop learning strategies. While"successful patterns" were identified in the statistical analyses, these were actually used by an equal proportion of completing and non-completing students-and could not be considered as paths to success for future TICCIT students. No evidence was found that students used a pattern consistently throughout a lesson. There was significant evidence that pattern choice was influenced by the subject matter studied and, specifically, by the topic of the segment. Students in the English course used more patterns which included EXAMPLES, whereas the students in the math course favored the RULE/PRACTICE combination. With regard to timely completion, however, the. RULE/PRACTICE pattern was a successful option for both math and English course completers. The use of PRACTICE without reference to RULES or EXAMPLES was detrimental to the timely completion of math coursework, but beneficial in the case of the English course.