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Journal of Technology Education, v24 n1 p54-72 Fall 2012

This manuscript addresses a problem teachers of computer software applications face today: What is an effective method for teaching new computer software? Technology and engineering teachers, specifically those with communications and other related courses that involve computer software applications, face this problem when teaching computer software designed to assist in graphic design, web design, programming, robotics, etc. The question of what instructional method would prove most effective is one that affects not only teachers but also IT trainers, as computers and computer software applications continue to be the primary tools of work and leisure. Despite the increase in computer software application use, the associated literature on instructional techniques used to teach computer software is inconclusive in regard to which instructional methods are the most appropriate for teaching new software, especially in junior high technology and engineering classrooms. This study includes using five commonly used instructional techniques--"direct instruction," "problem-based learning," "video-based tutorial learning," "cooperative/collaborative learning," and "book/written script tutorial learning"--to teach a new computer software, Sketchpad, to a sample of technology education junior high students and then analyzes the impact that each technique had on student learning by giving them an assignment to use Sketchpad to design a CD cover of a band or artist of their choice. The most prevalent findings of this study are: (1) teachers and students have different perceptions about the effectiveness of different instructional techniques; (2) teachers and students have different perceptions regarding frequency of use of instructional methods in class; and (3) student perceptions of higher instructional effectiveness did not correlate with higher grades received for the assignment. Based on the findings from this study, several conclusions and recommendations can be generalized for application by teachers of computer software applications like Sketchpad. Three are discussed: (1) use of book learning at the junior high level; (2) understanding student perception of classroom teaching practices; and (3) improving direct instruction techniques. (Contains 11 tables.)

Descriptors: Instructional Effectiveness, Computer Assisted Instruction, Computers, Educational Technology, Program Effectiveness, Problem Based Learning, Video Technology, Correlation, Direct Instruction, Cooperative Learning, Printed Materials, Student Attitudes, Teacher Attitudes, Junior High School Students, Computer Software, Computer Uses in Education, Teaching Methods, Comparative Analysis, Student Surveys, Likert Scales, Technology Education

Journal of Technology Education. Web site:

Autor: Wright, Geoffrey; Shumway, Steve; Terry, Ronald; Bartholomew, Scott


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