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Learning Theories and
Research on Integration of
Technology into Education
Rhonda Christensen
CECS 4100
Ch. 3 IETT
Theories Supporting
Computer Use in Education
Systems Theory
Cognitive Theory
Expect any effective instructional
activity, such as a computer-based
tutorial, to change the student in some
obvious and measurable way
In education we use behavioral
Thorndike’s connectionism theory
– learning is based on a series of
associations or connections between new
situation and previous situation
– Provided the impetus to the programmed
instruction movement
Pavlov’s classical conditioning
– Ring bell, feed dog, dog salivates because
of food
– Ring bell, remove food stimulus, dog
– Over time, the new stimulus (bell) will
produce the response even if the original
stimulus is removed
B.F. Skinner’s operant conditioning
– involves the use of reinforcement to
promote desirable changes in behavior
Skinner’s contributions to educational
practice and CBI
– stating objectives in terms of desired
– assessing learner prior to instruction
– recording learners’ progress for feedback
Systems Theory
Events should be studied in relationship
to other events; relationships should be
identified and their effect measured
“cookbook” of procedures for designing
often used to design CBI (Computer
Based Instruction)
Cognitive Theory
Moving from behaviorism to internal
processes that occur during instruction
Cognitive Theory concentrates on the
conceptualization of students’ learning
Influential proponents - Jerome Bruner,
Jean Piaget, Seymour Papert
Cognitive Theory
Believe instruction must be based on a
student’s existing state of mental
organization, or schema
Where behaviorists were more outcome
based, cognitive theorists are more
interested in the content of instruction
Cognitive Guidelines for
Designing or Evaluating CBI
Predisposition to learning
Structure and form of knowledge
(concrete vs. abstract)
Sequencing of instructional material
Form and pacing of reinforcement must
be considered
Discovery learning is an important
technique (LOGO)
Learning Theories
Cognitive theory provides educators
with a missing piece of the puzzle - they
look at learners
Behaviorists look at outcome
Systems theorists look at entire entities
or systems
Learning Theories
All approaches advocate feedback
All are interested in how experiences
are sequenced
As research continues, it is likely that
many theories will include parts of these
to design effective instruction
Implications of Theories
Provides direction to research
Provides direction to the practice of a
Meta-Analysis and
Instructional Computing
Kulik looked at 175 studies
– Computer-based education has had
positive effects on student learning
– Computer-based education was not
uniformly successful for all uses or at all
Alternative Interpretation
Clark reviewed Kulik’s studies
– found many of the studies were poorly
designed and/or students in CBI received
enhanced instruction
– “Computers make no more contribution to
learning than the truck that delivers
groceries to the market contributes to
improved nutrition in a community...”
Who do we believe?
Computers, like any tool, can be used
correctly or incorrectly. Teachers should
attempt to maximize the positive effect
computers can have and minimize
potential negative influences.
Attitudes Toward
Attitudes affect behavior
Positive attitudes toward computers can
lead to more positive attitudes toward
Measurement of teachers’ and students’
attitudes toward technology
Major YCCI Findings
Computer use makes comp. attitudes more
3+ Years of computer use may increase
motivation to study.
No gender differences regarding IT at grade 1.
Most dispositions become less positive from
grades 1-3.
Bilingual Hispanics in Texas have very positive
dispositions that tend to remain high.
CAQ Pilot Results
588 junior high school students, 1994
Alternative curricula: computer literacy course vs.
thematic teaming approach
Teaming group > computer literacy course group on:
– Computer Importance
– Computer Enjoyment
– Creative Tendencies
Females > males (across groups) on:
– Study Habits
– Empathy
Current Research Findings
For current research findings relating to
teacher and student attitudes toward
information technology, visit the website