Computer Assisted Instruction (CAI) Research Validity
Internal, External and Construct Validity
Computer Assisted Instruction (CAI) has been utilized with success in students with or without learning disabilities and it is mainly attributed due to increased time concentrated on reading materials or exercises on the computer. It offers productive practice and time management and is an effective tool to used as a supplement to providing drills (Williams, Wright, Callaghan, & Coughlan, 2002). Some of the advantages that the CAI provides inside the classroom include one-on-one exercise with minimal supervisory time involving the teacher. In many cases, instant feedback to students allows mistakes to be rectified immediately. Certain programs offer features that monitor speed and accuracy of answers and the regularity of instruction for subject mastery (Wong, 2008).
Internal Validity Threats
In a research study done by Coleman-Martin, Heller, Cihak, & Irvine (2005), a slower acquisition rate score was recorded when a different Windows version (i.e., XP versus Windows 98) was used during one of the test sessions. The variation of the platform caused the PowerPoint slide presentation to run slower than the prior sessions that resulted to disrupting its timing and consistency. Computer skills, familiarity with the software programs, and prior knowledge in the question format (i.e., multiple choice) are factors to consider that might have influence the rate at which the students learned words identification (Coleman-Martin, et al., 2005, p. 90).
Similarly, according to research study conducted by Fuchs, L., Fuchs, D., Hamlet, C., Powell, S., Capizzi, A., & Seethaler, P. (2006) on the effects of CAI on number combination skill in at-risk first graders, their procedures did not take into consideration the keyboarding skills of at-risk first graders and the possibility that errors related to the learners’ typing skills reduced the effectiveness of the CAI.
External Threats to Validity
According to Savage, R., Deault, L., Abrami, P., & Hipps, G. (2009), one limitation found on their research regarding a randomized controlled trial study of the ABRACADABRA reading intervention was that students with inferior literacy and associated skills during pretest were more likely not to show up for testing at follow-up. The researchers believed that this is an issue of experimental mortality insinuating that the postponement of posttest outcomes are almost certainly less generalizable to typical reader samples than the more immediate posttest statistics ( Savage, et al., 2009, p. 602).
Threats to Construct Validity
Bannert (2000) and Van Gog (2005) research study suggested that giving the students control over portions of their instruction allow them to better negotiate the cognitive challenges placed on them as students. They further noted that learner-control participants performed better on a test of transfer than the participants who received no control. Van Gog (2005) hypothesized that over time, improved performance would be visible during training situations along with the capability of the learner to assess and rectify future problematic situations when learners are progressively awarded with more control over their instruction as their skill level intensified.
In contrast, Eom and Reiser (2000) revealed that junior high students who were given the opportunity to control their instruction displayed considerably worse performance than those who were not allowed to control their instruction. The same results were reported by several researchers (Farrell and Moore, 2000 and Swaak and de Jong, 2001) who stated that providing students control over their instruction concludes in trivial or insignificant advancement. It may be a case of poor construct definition where a construct may have been mislabeled or defined at a wrong level either too general or too specific. In this case, it is possible that establishing the types of control given to the students will be a crucial factor.
Impact of Validity Issues
Several validity issues could affect the envisioned research regarding the effectiveness of the type of CAI programs that are currently used as a remediation tool for at-risk students. One limitation is the inclination for technology difficulties because technology can be unpredictable. In accomplishing particular learning objectives, the learning tool such as the software programs used in conjunction with the CAI should be developmentally appropriate.
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