A descriptive case study: Investigating the implementation of web based, automated grading and tutorial software in a freshman computer literacy course

Glen J Coulthard, Purdue University


Students in higher education require satisfactory computer skills to be successful. While today’s students may have greater exposure to technology, research shows that their actual computer knowledge and skills are superficial and narrow. As a result, the freshman computer literacy course remains an important curricular component. This study investigates the implementation of an innovative Web-based technology for delivering software proficiency training for Microsoft Office. Building upon decades of end-user computing satisfaction and technology acceptance research, the purpose of the study is to describe the instructor and student experiences that result from the implementation and use of MyITLab educational software. The nature of the study is descriptive, rather than evaluative, with the following goals: (a) to describe instructors’ experiences with the software, (b) to identify patterns of technology usage and utility, and (c) to elucidate levels of computing satisfaction and technology acceptance among users.^ The study applies a mixed-method, single-unit, embedded case study design to focus the inquiry on an introductory computer applications course, offered in the Fall 2011 semester at a college in western Canada. The embedded units consist of five instructors, with 322 students enrolled across 10 sections. Data were analyzed from course documents, classroom observations, instructor interviews, and a student survey that produced 149 satisfactory responses. The survey was constructed by adapting instruments based on the Wixom and Todd (2005) integrated research model and the Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology (UTAUT) model.^ Results of the study are summarized into five assertions: 1) MyITLab effectively eliminates or, at least, reduces instructor grading workloads for assignments, 2) MyITLab provides students with frequent corrective feedback on assignments, 3) the step-by-step presentation of instructions in MyITLab may not solely meet the needs of solution-based learning outcomes, 4) instructors should be trained on MyITLab to maximize the software’s utility, and 5) the MyITLab solution bank of acceptable responses should be expanded to reduce potential grading inaccuracies. An enhanced Wixom and Todd (2005) model is also presented for future research of educational software. Lastly, the reader is encouraged to reconsider the information presented and generalize it for their own purposes.^




Timothy J. Newby, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Educational technology|Higher education

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