February 17, 2001
Reference: Takacs, J., Reed, W. M., Wells, J. G. & Dombrowski, L. A. "The Effects of Online Multimedia Project Development, Learning Style, and Prior Computer Experiences on Teachers' Attitudes Toward the Internet and Hypermedia" Journal of Research on Computing in Education, Volume, No. 4, 341-355
Principle: This article examines the effect of a multimedia development workshop, prior experience with computers, and learning styles on teachers' attitudes toward both the internet and hypermedia.
Design: The research design is a quantitative, non-experimental, ex post facto study of thirteen teachers. The subjects all attended a workshop intended to introduce them to the methods used for creating interactive courseware.
Independent Variables: The treatment used on the subjects was their attendance of the training workshop. The independent variables were (1) the amount of prior experience with the internet and hypermedia and (2) their individual learning styles.
Dependent Variables: The dependent variables are the teachers' attitudes toward both the internet and hypermedia.
Procedures: The subjects were tested prior to their training for their learning styles using the Learning Style Inventory instrument. During the training, the subjects self-reported their experience with computers. There was a pre- and post-test for the teachers' attitudes towards the internet and hypermedia. The attitudes were measured using a variation of the Stages of Concern instrument.
Results: The training session appeared to affect the attitudes toward the internet and hypermedia positively. Specifically, the teachers were less concerned about acquiring information about the technology and how to manage it. The amount of previous computer experience was a reliable indicator to the amount of change in a teacher's attitude toward the technology. The authors theorize that teachers with little or no knowledge of hypermedia have more to gain from the workshop and thus had a greater change in their attitude measurements. The effects of individual learning styles was not evident. The authors believe that the nature of the workshop allowed each type of learning style to be addressed.
Comments: Educating educators can be a tricky business. This study appears to show that the workshop helped teachers with little experience become more interested in using hypermedia and the internet in their instruction. I feel the study should be tested again using a larger population, and the self reporting of computer experience may not be the best strategy. Assuming the results are good, though, it appears that the managers of such a workshop should discover the prior experience of the attendees and adjust the coursework to challenge the participants. This could avoid having participants become bored with coursework that is clearly redundant to them.