The effects of computer-assisted instruction on the mathematical problem-solving of students with learning disabilities

Rwey-Lin Shiah, Purdue University


Students with learning disabilities have documented difficulties in solving mathematical word problems. Computer-assisted instruction (CAI) has been documented as an alternative instructional mode which has facilitated the performance of students with learning disabilities in various content areas. This study was intended to determine: (a) whether students with learning disabilities could benefit from a computer-assisted instructional tutorial program to learn math word problem solving on immediate and delayed on-line computer and paper-and-pencil tests; and (b) whether one of three variations of computer-assisted instructional programs would produce superior learning. Two of the computer-assisted instructional programs included a seven-step cognitive strategy for solving word problems. Both of these programs employed identical teaching procedures except that animated pictures were used in one condition (CAI-A) and static pictures were used in the other condition (CAI-P). The third condition (CAI-C) served as a comparison group that employed instruction without the cognitive strategy, but included the use of the static pictures. Thirty elementary students with learning disabilities were randomly assigned to one of the three conditions: CAI-A, CAI-P, or CAI-C. Student measures included pre-tests, immediate on-line post-tests, immediate paper-and-pencil post-tests, delayed paper-and-pencil tests, delayed on-line tests, consumer satisfaction and attitudes toward CAI surveys. Separate 3 (conditions) x 3 (pre vs immediate vs delayed tests) Analyses of Variance (ANOVA), with repeated measures on the time factor were computed for on-line and paper-pencil tests. Four major findings were obtained. First, students in all conditions improved significantly on math word problem solving from pre to post testing. Second, no statistically significant differences were detected among the three treatment conditions. Third, students in all conditions performed significantly better on the on-line computer tests than on paper-and-pencil tests. No evidence of transfer between on-line computer and paper-and-pencil tests was observed. Finally, all students across all conditions reported that they enjoyed using the computer programs and that they enjoyed using the pictures.




Mastropieri, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Special education|Educational software|Mathematics education

Off-Campus Purdue Users:
To access this dissertation, please log in to our
proxy server