Power Learning: Using Computers as Teaching Machines

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Working Paper

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Abstract or Description

We conducted a study in which students learned part of their computer programming material using the traditional lecture, book and assignments, while others had the additional benefit of a computer tutorial that was responsible for teaching a small segment of the course material. Operational definitions for teaching machines, computerized teaching machines and power learning are provided. This study identifies student attitudes towards a tightly-structured computer-assisted instructional program. The computer was responsible for teaching and seamlessly incorporating practice into the session. In the study some students received traditional training (lecture, book, and assignments), while other students received the additional use of a computerized teaching machine in the teaching-learning of the C programming language. For students using the teaching machine, the computer constantly engaged students in reinforcing and interactive activities. Each student worked at their own pace, and at a time that best suited them. The computerized teaching machine spent more time on the subject matter than could be afforded during class time, and gave each student individualized attention. All students were then given an aggressive problem to solve based on their newly acquired knowledge. Student attitudes revealed an intense desire to include the teaching machine into the course structure and rated the teaching machine as useful as lecture and much more effective then the textbook.