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The effectiveness of computer-assisted instruction and computer programming in elementary and secondary mathematics: A meta-analysis

Wen-Cheng Lee, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This study attempted to shed some light on effectiveness of computer-based mathematics instruction by using meta-analysis to integrate findings from varied studies. Seventy-two studies were collected from published studies, ERIC documents, and dissertations. Effectiveness was measured in terms of math achievement, problem-solving skills, and attitudes toward mathematics/instruction and computers. Overall results indicated that CAI/computer programming had a moderate positive effect on achievement, a slight positive effect on problem-solving skills and attitudes toward mathematics/instruction, and a great positive effect on attitudes toward computers for elementary and secondary students. Specific effects found were: (1) junior high students had higher average effect size in achievement than elementary and senior high students; (2) simulation/gaming CAI had higher effect size in achievement for higher grade students; (3) CAI was most effective for low-ability students' mathematics achievement; (4) students from average and high-income families had higher average effect sizes than students from low-income families; (5) male students learned more with computers than female students in terms of achievement; (6) CAI programs developed by experimenters or teachers had higher average effect size than programs which were commercially developed; (7) computers located in laboratories or in classrooms were equally effective in enhancing student achievement; (8) CAI was effective in improving achievement for both normal students and special students, such as remedial and learning-disadvantaged students; (9) CAI in algebra/arithmetic studying had higher average effect sizes than in geometry; (10) published studies yielded the largest effect size in achievement, and dissertations had the largest effect size in problem-solving skills; (11) Logo programming was more effective in enhancing problem-solving skills than BASIC; and (12) attitudes of male and low-ability students were most positive toward mathematics/instruction. In light of above positive findings of this meta-analysis, educators/teachers may be able to make sound decisions about implementation of CAI/computer programming in mathematics instruction.

Subject Area

Mathematics education|Educational software|Curricula|Teaching

Recommended Citation

Lee, Wen-Cheng, "The effectiveness of computer-assisted instruction and computer programming in elementary and secondary mathematics: A meta-analysis" (1990). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9022709.