February 17, 2001
Carlson, S., White, S. (1998). The effectiveness of a computer program in helping kindergarten students learn the concepts of left and right. Journal of Computing in Childhood Education, Vol.9 (2), 133-147.
Principle: This was an experiment to decipher the effect of kindergarten students using a computer program to help learn the concepts of left and right.
Design: This experiment was a pretest-posttest control group design.
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The treatment used was a computer program produced by the Edmark Corporation called Trudy's Time and Place House, with the specific activity titled "Jellybean Hunt". The control group had no exposure to the computer program. Pretest and posttests were exactly the same.
Factors Jeopardizing Internal Validity: Non-equivalent groups were used, history could have been a factor, and ethnic and demographic factors for both the control and experimental groups were narrow predominantly Caucasian and middle to upper level incomes.
Factors Jeopardizing External Validity: The interaction between selection bias and the experimental variable could cause problems with this study. The students in this study were from a suburban public school in the Midwest and were from professional families. They come from backgrounds where computers are common both at home and at school.
Adequacy of Statistical Procedures Used: They were careful to keep both the tests (pre- and post-) identical as well as the protocol used for both tests. An ANOVA was used to find out if there were differences between the control and experimental groups mean scores on the pretest. No significant differences were found. An ANCOVA was used to compare the outcome of the two groups on the posttest. This showed that a statistical significance existed between the control and experimental groups.
Logic Summary: Results of the study showed that there was a significant increase in the understanding of the concepts of left and right after the exposure to the computer activity "Jellybean Hunt". The authors felt that this was a positive impact and that students who have favorable experiences with computers at an early age can enhance their understanding of educational concepts.
Design Improvement: Larger sample sizes, more diverse demographic and ethnic backgrounds, and random assignment to groups could make this study much stronger in its stance.
Extension of the Study: Using a more diverse population would increase the external validity of the study. Also, doing the same study but with a population opposite to that which was tested might give some interesting results which could then be compared for statistical significance.