Deprogramming CAI And Computer Literacy

Bracey, Gerald W.
September 1986
Phi Delta Kappan;Sep86, Vol. 68 Issue 1, p74
This article discusses research findings on computer-assisted instruction (CAI) and computer literacy, as of 1986. George Bass and Roger Ries of the College of William and Mary and William Sharpe of the Williamsburg-James City County (Virginia) Schools recently found that, while students using computers showed significant pre-test to post-test gains, there was no systematic finding in favor of CAI. Reporting in the 1986 issue of the Journal of Educational Computing Research, the authors point out differences between earlier and current CAI. Today's CAI takes place in the regular classroom, with microcomputers, commercial software, and teachers who may or may not have had much training themselves in the use of computers for learning. The interpretations of Bass, Ries, and Sharpe are supported by Marlaine Lockheed of the World Bank and Ellen Mandinach of the Educational Testing Service in the May 1986 issue of Educational Researcher. Lockheed and Mandinach approach the topic from a somewhat different angle. They observed that in 1973 less than 1 percent of high school seniors said that they intended to major in computer science. By 1983 this figure had jumped past 10 percent. In 1985, however, it had fallen back to 7 percent. They point out that the most frequent use of microcomputers has been to satisfy national, state, and local calls for computer literacy. These course requirements are the main culprit because early computer literacy courses which stressed learning to program in BASIC were generally of poor quality in terms of teacher training, course curriculum, time allocated to computer use, ratio of computers to students, and type of hardware and software.


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