The Effects of Teacher Based Instruction Verses Computer Based Learning Essay

The Effects of Teacher Instruction Verses Computer Based Learning Practices

            There are many different styles of teaching and many different ways to learn.  Many of the traditional teaching methods are through instructor or teacher led learning and can be processed for all students as well as being able to manage all different types of instructions.  It is now being contemplated by many as to whether or not a student can have the ability to learn as well from computer based training rather than through teacher led instruction.  This has prompted a study of thirty seventh grade students who were divided into two groups and given the opportunity to learn in one of these two ways.

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            The study started by selecting thirty seventh grade students from an urban population.  This group of students was to first take a pre test in order to see how they scored and to find out where the base line would be for the subject matter, which was reading comprehension.  Reading comprehension was chosen for this urban based group of students as the basis of a lot of knowledge and studies can be identified through being able to learn how to effectively strategize and   The groups were then divided into two separate groups.  There was one group that was chosen to receive traditional tutoring to be done by a teacher, while the other group were to practice through computer based learning modules.  The improvement that was seen when the final test was taken after the time period was that there was a huge difference in the quality of what the student was getting through the computer and there was not as large of an improvement as what was seen with the teacher who was tutoring.

            The test groups were divided as fairly as possible with the same number of minority students, same gender of students as well as an attempt to have students from the same socioeconomic background split up in order to give the trial a fair compaprison on the students and their learning styles in comparison to the other issues as this way there were a good base of students for both of the groups.

            When talking to the students on an individual basis it was interesting to hear what their thoughts were about the differences in the types of learning.  Many students thought that the students learning from the computers would be able to learn more and that they would be able to benefit more than the students were with the teacher for traditional tutoring.  One student even stated “how can a person compare with a computer when a computer knows everything?” in frustration when he found out that he had been placed in the teacher led group rather than the computer group.  There were some students who thought that they would be able to learn more from their teacher but this was not the majority of the students.

            The students mapped out their predictions of what would happen prior to the study as well and they were able to identify that they thought that they would be able to learn more form the computer than from the teacher.  When questioning the students as to why this was it was unanimous that they thought that the computer was smarter than the teacher.  Other students did comment on the computer was more fun and how they would rather be able to control what was happening and the pace of things rather than being led by someone else such as the teacher in this case.  There were a lot of questions as to why the students felt that this would be the best option for them and the students were able to answer.

            After the first week the students were revisited to talk to about the study and all of the students agreed that their group was learning more than the other group was.  The student’s level of dedication was different and their excitement was different between the two groups as well.  The students who were working on computers were more enthusiastic and more ready to study and seemed to be putting for a lot of effort in being able to do a good job.  Some of the students who were in the teacher led sessions did sulk and acted as though they did not want to be there and like they were missing other more important things to be in the classroom with the teacher.  What can be learned from this is that even if someone shows interest or a lack of interest does not always affect his/her ability to learn in that environment, which many researchers and scholars would lead one to believe.

            Furthermore the study was able to show how the differences in learning could be with these two mediums.  It was indicated that both of the groups of students did improve so the computer based learning was better than no additional learning.  This study could have been improved by following a third group of students who were given no extra instruction to see how they were able to computer the various answers and if they were continuing to improve in their scores as well.  The students who were with the teacher for the tutoring were able to get more one on one time and seemed to really grasp the understanding of processes and the way that things should be looked at in order to solve the problem and get the answer that was needed - The Effects of Teacher Based Instruction Verses Computer Based Learning Essay introduction. From the perspective of the computer based learning program it was often looked at as something that was a problem and that was something that was able to give the students some additional knowledge.

There has been a lot of research done on the subject of online education and whether or not this form of education can really help someone to learn as much information as taking a traditional class can.  There are even accredited universities who are using online programs of study as a form of being able to enroll and interest more non-traditional students.  As for the overall affects of the students, it is obvious that if there is such a huge difference in young students then it would be probable to conclude that adult students would in deed have the same problems.  In one article entitled, “Effects of an Online Problem Based Learning Course on Content Knowledge Acquisition and Critical Thinking Skills,” the authors look at the overall differences between what is learned through an online class in comparison with a teacher led instruction based program.  These programs are continuing to gain interest and students are continuing to sign up for them but in many ways the programs are not as satisfactory in teaching overall skills.  If one were to need to just take a class and not ask questions or possibly have problem  then the scenario would be great, however it is in this situation where these issues continue to affect each other and there is the possibility that the quality of the education is not what it would be if it were based in a classroom (Sendag and Odabasi 2009).  Therefore this study proved that the students would have been better off in a classroom setting with a teacher than in a setting where they were exposed to only a computer to lead them through instructions.

            In the article, “Analysis of Cognitive Learning Strategies and Computer Attitudes, According to College Student’s Gender and Locus of Control” there was a study conducted to monitor how the computer based learning systems could monitor teaching and instruction for the college student.  This study suggested that a student would need a good grasp of self control and that typically female students did better on these types of learning systems due to the fact that typically female students exercise more self control than their male counterparts (Kesici, Sahin, and Akturk 2009).  In this case it could be explained that computer based learning was not a good option as it was needed for only specific types of students and it actually had a gender differential.

            However although there are articles and studies which support the results that were formed from the studied group of students in that teacher led education is better than computer led education, there are still some articles that suggest a lot could be gained from computer based learning programs.  In one article entitled, “Teacher-Oriented Adaptive Web-Based Environment for Supporting Practical Teaching Models: A Case Study of ‘School for All,’” there was a lot of information on the advantages of computer based learning programs.  This study sought out to prove that computer based programs were more individualized and centered on the student in a particular manner and fashion where if the student were to be learning in a traditional classroom setting then the student would be forced to learn at the pace of the other students rather than getting to set his/her pace on their own (Lin, Young, Chan, and Chen 2005).  One can easily argue against this belief as there is no proof of knowledge and if a student misses one key concept then there can be significant problems in learning other related skills as it is harder to unlearn something than to learn something.

            Some studies also look at the perception of students and the ideas that students have about the computer based learning and its use in place of instructor or teacher led classes.  This study suggests that many students who believe that this gives them better control of the class and the ability to work at their own pace exceed in online learning.  However there are those who do not think this way and for those who procrastinate or have a hard time with sticking to deadlines and have little self motivation this would not be a good option as a way to learn.  There are many other factors to consider but student’s attitudes can greatly affect the effectiveness of the computer based learning programs (Yang and Tsai 2008).

            Another study that would argue that computer based learning can work just as well for students is a recent medical study.  This study showed students learning about surgery different ways of learning, whether instructor or computer based learning.  All of the students showed significant response to the training and all improved.  There were no noticeable differences in the improvement based on anything other than the students’ ability to learn.  This means that this study is saying that there are no differences in the way that this information is taught (Nousiainen, Brydges,  Backstein, and Dubrowski 2008).  It could easily be fought that there are many differences in this type of skills training being done in person and online or through a self led computer course.  These differences might not be apparent in all forms but later there could be significant differences show up as this study was only conducted where there would be the ability to learn and in the future practice of these skills and the confidence to which the student was able to master the skills.

            What can come from all of these studies and differences in opinion is that there is an advantage to some web based or computer based learning for students.  This is meaning that there are definite advantages to someone being able to benefit from these computer based learning programs and that they are able to learn, however it is unlikely that this type of instruction can replace teachers or teacher led instruction.  What needs to be done is to define the line between these two gray areas.  That would mean that there needs to be more research done on how students can learn if they are in a mixed learning environment.  Thus meaning that there are students who will be able to learn better from the combination of these two forms of learning than they would have been able to learn if either form of the learning was separate or on their own.  In one study conducted on this subject it proved that there was a favorable connection in being able to access both types of instruction and learn some based on teacher instruction and then in addition to what was learned from the teacher to be able to further the education through a computer program that was developed to be and combined to be a supplement.  This supplemental program really does teach a lot more to students and can help them to be able to develop their academic strengths further and work on their weaknesses on their own (Mackey and Ho 2008).

            In a separate study called “Does the Medium Change the Message?” there was again a statement that the needs for the student were to develop a program that integrated computer based learning into a curriculum with instructor and teacher led education as well.  This study looked at various ways that computer integration could be used in the classroom and with university students in order to have them be more interested in their studies and less interested in the other aspects of college life.  Some of these same principles and findings can apply to students who are in grade and middle school however as the study was suggesting that when a computer course be developed that it be carefully constructed and that several things are monitored and watched for and that in the end the student is able to learn the most of the information from the classroom and teacher led environment but that the student is aided and added to by the things that are learned through the computer based parts of the program.  Thus meaning that a program that is to involve computers as a part of the teaching curriculum needs to be carefully designed and that many different things need to be looked at in order to see how computer based learning can best supplement the information at hand.  Therefore if a computer based learning program is going to be used in a classroom setting the most beneficial thing for the student is that the program be offered with the computers as a secondary source in conjunction with the teacher led instruction that is already in place (Yazon, Smith and Redfield 2002).

            Another way that computer based learning can be integrated into the educational system is by integrating it into the system as a game.  There are many different types of educational games that are made in order to promote a healthy lifestyle and education on a more relaxed and a fun environment.  This type of programming that acts as a game but is really teaching something is good for a number of reasons but also something to be cautious of as there are a number of ways that this could also harm a child, especially if the child were allowed to play without interacting with others too often at home or even too often at school.  There was a recent study on a science game that was used as part of an educational forum for a school and that was used in order to help those who were having problems in science.  When thinking about using a learning game as a tool there are a lot of benefits that can be gained from this tool.  The main thing is to remember not to allow the computer or the game to “teach” in absence of parental or teacher led instruction on these issues (Papastergiou 2009).  What can be gained from this study is that educational computer games really can help to teach a child if used in conjunction to other teaching methods such as teacher led instruction.

            One school that seems to be a leader in the ideas of computer integration into the classroom developed a simple curriculum to integrate the lessons around the computer programs and use in the classroom.  One of the curriculums that is well known for this integration is the “Thinking Curriculum” (Thinking Curriculum 2007).  This curriculum is developed to teach a teacher easy ways to integrate the process of thinking and adding computer technology into the classroom.

            There are multiple ways that the classroom can have integrated technology. The following technology programs can be added to any classroom:  power point presentations, Hyper Studio Stacks, Web Pages, using a computer station or learning center where children can rotate, have students partner up for lab projects, having students incorporate games that they enjoy playing on the computer into other projects, and use different other classroom skills to change a game into much more.  There are many other programs which are often misled and not used for the purposes of instruction.  The best thing to know is that there is a lot of information available to  educators which can help them in being able to make a decision about how the technology could best be used in the their classroom (“Technology Curriculum…” 2006).

            Another thing to keep in mind is that for the computer to be an effective tool in any case for education that there needs to be a lot of computer based learning and instruction in order to help students know what they are doing in learning how to use the computer as an educational tool (Mercier and Frederiksen 2007).  The overall conclusion is that of course it is best to have teacher instruction and teacher led tutoring but when there is not enough teachers to go around computers can be supplemented into the education system as a part of the program.  The main purpose of the computers should be to enrich and to add to the teachers’ skills set and not to overpower or to teach in the place of a teacher.  Overall computer based education can not give the student the full attention and answers that a private conversation or one on one time with the teacher can provide.  What would seem to work the best in the grade school setting would be for the teacher to be used as a tutor with students at the same time as the students could use the computers that way they could utilize and learn from both.  The idea that the teacher could work with some students while others used the computers a then the students could switch is a way of thinking and processing the ideas of this theory into something that would be possible and manageable by the students.

            In conclusion it can be assumed that students will learn better with one on one instruction from a teacher who is interacting with them.  It can also be assumed that as long as the student is participating, their interest level is not that important and not nearly as important as the way that they are learning.  It can also be assumed that computer led instruction does provide some learning and that through this type of learning there can be an integration into the curriculum and learning systems in order to best benefit all students.  The study proved that both types of instruction would yield positive results it was just that he instruction from the teacher yielded a stronger positive result.  This is meaning that the individual attention and time that a teacher or tutor gives a student can prove to be invaluable and something that a student can not do without.  It is one of those things in life where there is a definite answer and something that can really cause a big difference in a child’s ability to learn and understand.


Kesici, S., Sahin, I., and Akturk, A.O. (2009).  Analysis of Cognitive Learning Strategies

and Computer Attitudes According to College Students’ Gender and Locus of Control, Computers in Human Behavior, 25, pp. 529-534.

Lin, C.B., Young, S.S.C., Chan, T.W., and Chen, Y.H. (2005).  Teacher Oriented

Adaptive Web-Based Environment for Supporting Practical Teaching Models:  A Case Study of “School for All,” Computers and Education, 44, pp. 155-172.

Mackey, T.P. and Ho, J.  (2008).  Exploring the Relationship Between Web Usability and

Student’s Perceived Learning in Web Based Multi Media (WBMM) Tutorials, Computers and Education, 50, pp. 386-409.

Mercier, J. and Frederiksen, C.H. (2007).  Individual Differences in Graduate Students’

Help-Seeking Process in using a Computer Coach in Problem-Based Learning, Learning and Instruction, 17, pp. 184-203.

Nousiainen, M., Brydges, R., Backstein, D., and Dubrowski, A. (April 2008).

Comparison of Expert Instruction and Computer-Based Video Training in Teaching Fundamental Surgery Skills to Medical Students, Surgery, pp. 539-545.

Papastergiou,  M. (2009).  Digital Game-Based Learning in High School Computer

Science Education:  Impact on Educational Effectiveness and Student Motivation, Computers and Education, 52, pp. 1-12.

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Course on Content Knowledge Acquisition and Critical Thinking Skills, Computers and Education, 53, pp. 132-141.

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Thinking Curriculum (2007).  Retrieved on 27 April 2009 from

Yang, F.Y., Tsai, C.C. (2008).  Investigating University Student’s Performance and

Belief’s about Learning in the Web-Based Context, Computers and Education, 50, pp. 1284-1303.

Yazon, J.M.O., Smith, J.A.M., Redfield, R.J. (2002).  Does the Medium Change the

Message? The Impact of a Web-Based Genetics Course on University Students’ Perspectives on Learning and Teaching, Computers and Education, 38, pp. 267-285.

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