Using a computer-adapted, conceptually based history text to increase comprehension and problem-solving skills of students with disabilities

Jul 2, 2013, 12:58 PM
Twyman, T., & Tindal, G. (2006). Using a computer-adapted, conceptually based history text to increase comprehension and problem-solving skills of students with disabilities. Journal of Special Education Technology, 21(2), 5-16.

Characteristics

  • Twenty-four 11th and 12th grade students with learning disabilities in reading and writing from two self-contained social studies classes participated in the study.
  • The goal of the current study was to evaluate whether using a web-based instructional program increased the content knowledge and problem-solving skills of social studies students with learning disabilities in the areas of reading and writing.
  • The web-based program used by participants in the treatment group was a conceptually organized, computer-adapted text (http:brt.uoregon.edu/cyberschool/ history).
  • The web-based chapter began with a title page where students could click on one of several links in order to (1) read an overview of the chapter, (2) see a list of relevant concepts, (3) read or listen to a simplified version of the text, (3) look at a graphic organizer of the concepts, or (3) take a problem-solving assessment.

Setting

  • Both the treatment and control group instruction took place within the students’ self-contained social studies classes.

Method

  • Participants in the treatment group received 2 weeks of instruction using the web-based chapter, while participants in the control group received instruction using their district’s regular textbook for the World History class.
  • A vocabulary matching probe, concept maze task, and extended-response essay were administered to all participants before and after the intervention.
  • Students in the treatment group were introduced to the purpose of computer-based instruction (CBI), discussed concepts and definitions related to the Industrial Revolution, brainstormed examples of important ideas and separated them into categories, used computer lab days to cover various sections of the chapter, and then used non-computer lab days to reinforce the material covered in the web-based chapter.
  • Students in the control group still received instruction on CBI, but learned about the Industrial Revolution using their normal textbook rather than using the web-based chapter.

Results

  • While there was no statistically significant difference in general comprehension, participants in the treatment group performed significantly better on the extended-response essay than their control group peers.
  • In addition, a post-intervention interview with the teacher demonstrated that she believed students in the treatment group were more engaged in lessons and more apt to participate than students who used the traditional textbook.
  • The findings provide some evidence for both the social acceptability of using computer-based instruction with students with learning disabilities and the increase in problem-solving skills that students may acquire as a result of the instruction format.
Categories:
  • Social Studies
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