MCE Working Papers - 1999


MCE Working Papers for 1999



MCE-0199:
The Application of Multiple Choice Questions in a Computer Environment as a Method of Learning rather than of Assessment
Roy Atkinson, Rory O'Connor

Multiple Choice Questions, have been used for many years as a tool of assessment. While they were being used for this purpose, it appeared that they also had potential as a learning aid. This paper investigates the effectiveness of Multiple Choice Questions in a computer environment as a means of absorbing information. It compares two computerised methods having different degrees of interactivity to a more traditional paper-based method. The increase in learning is quantified using pre-tests and post-tests. The study involved pupils in two second level schools in the Dublin area and also investigated their attitudes towards such use of computers for this purpose.

MCE-0299:
The Skill Deficit of the Information Technology Industry in Ireland: A Post Leaving Certificate Focus
Frances Cregan, Gary Keogh

The world is undergoing a revolutionary change, a new industrial revolution fuelled by rapidly advancing computer and telecommunications technology, an era which is the Information Age. The pace of change of new information technologies will continue to accelerate well into the next millennium. Changing technologies force industries to strive for high levels of performance and effectiveness offering new opportunities for societies that can exploit them. If Ireland is to capitalise on the Information Age then she must build on her reputation of the past, one which boasts a highly educated and skilled workforce and continue to produce a technologically skilled and flexible workforce which is exposed to regular and continuous education and training.

MCE-0399:
IT in the Mathematics Classroom
Ute Duane, David Gray

MCE-0499:
An Evaluation of the Effectiveness of Learning from Hypertext
Colm Mc Evoy, Alan Smeaton

The purpose of this study is to evaluate the effectiveness of learning from hypertext for full time students. The study was conducted in a Post Leaving Certificate college. A second year computer class was divided into control and test groups. Sections of a syllabus in systems analysis and design was delivered to the test group using Real Audio for audio synchronized with visual text and images presented via an Intranet. This electronic delivery of classes or virtual class was used as a replacement for the traditional style class for the test group, while the control group continued with the traditional class. The courseware was organized to allow the students navigate through the material using a traditional table of contents. The students in the test group completed pre and post questionnaires and the test and control groups completed three exams during the study. Overall the results of this study suggest that the virtual classes were an effective mode of course delivery. Limitations to the study and possible future research possibilities were also considered.

MCE-0599:
Using Computer Aided Learning to motivate underachieving and weak First Year Maths students, with particular emphasis on teaching Algebra
Jim O'Keeffe, Lynn Killen

This paper examines the causes of underachievement in our school system. The claims made for Computer-Assisted Learning Software as a teaching aid are described, and research is carried out to try and verify some of these claims. The dissertation first focuses on motivational theories, briefly examining the ideas behind the cognitive and behaviourist theories of human behaviour. The factors effecting both extrinsic and intrinsic motivation are also explored. It then examines the factors causing underachievement in our schools. These factors are described from three points of view: (1) the home and parental variables affecting the student, (2) the personality characteristics of the student and (3) the school factors influencing the student.
The different types of learning models, as applied to Computer-Assisted Learning are then outlined, and the potential advantages of Computer-Assisted Learning are discussed in detail. Finally, research was carried out to assess whether a Computer-Assisted Learning System might be suitable for teaching Algebra to weak and underachieving First Year Secondary Level students. The study was carried out using a sample of fifty-three First Year Students. Both quantitative and qualitative methods were used to analyse the results of this research. The results of the quantitative analysis showed that the students who received classes based on Computer-Assisted Learning showed greater improvement in their marks than students receiving classes based on traditional teaching methods. The results of the qualitative analysis showed that the Computer-Assisted Learning appeared to make the classes more enjoyable, and increased the attention and motivation of the students involved.

MCE-0699:
Can we create a "virtual classroom" for the teaching of Religious Education
David L. Power, Tony Moynihan

This dissertation addresses some current problems in the area of Religious Education. It looks at the new emerging technology of the "Virtual Classroom" to see if it can provide a solution. The technology, its background and development, is reviewed through a search of the literature. The current implementations are seen to be still relatively immature. At the pedagogical level there is much debate and little research done. The research project involving 35 sixteen year olds, from a boys secondary school in South Dublin, is outlined. The results of a comparison between this new technology and a traditional classroom presentation are analysed. Conclusions are drawn and considerations that would need to be addressed in future research are outlined.

MCE-0799:
The Development of Children's Thinking Skills using Educational Computer Software in the context of English and Maths curricula for Second Class in the Primary School
Gráinne Smyth, Seán Ó Nualláin

This study took a formal approach to the development of children's thinking skills. The tools used were a multimedia computer and three software programs- Maths Circus, Thinking Thing 1 and Granny's Garden. The aim of the study was to develop thinking skills in seven to nine years old children in Second Class in the Primary School. The study design was a pre-test / post-test design with a control group. Both the experimental group and control group had fifteen pupils each. The fifteen pupils in the experimental group worked in groups of three at the computer. The reasoning skills of both groups were measured with the NFER-Nelson Non - Verbal Reasoning Test 8&9. An analysis was carried out on the pre test and post test scores. There were no conclusive findings as a result of the data analysis.

MCE-0899:
An Evaluation of Hyperstudio and the Process of Authoring by a Class Teacher in the Presentation of a module of Elementary Science to Third Class Pupils in the Primary School.
Dónal Ó Faoláin, Miriam Judge

Multimedia Authoring allows for the customizing of courseware specifically for the needs of the teacher and pupils. Every classroom environment produces differing needs and processes of learning which must be borne in mind by the teacher in the preparation of learning aids, the style of learning activities and the interaction which is necessary to inspire the pupils to get most out of the learning situation. Computer use in schools, however, tends to over emphasize commercially produced software which in its very nature, has a very wide target group. The Authoring of courseware and learning materials by the class teacher can be instrumental in making computer use cater for the individual needs of the pupils. However, computer based instruction need not be seen as individual learning. Studies and findings emphasize the central role of the teacher in the social interaction of the pupils and the role this physical and social interaction can have in learning. Habits and practices which mirror the practices of the classroom teaching situation are increasingly being advocated by instructional theorists as being a necessary part of the learning process. This study brings some force behind that argument.

MCE-0999:
An investigation into the learning effects of adding audio to an interactive multimedia training product
Joan O'Flynn

New technologies in education have been widely heralded as offering the promise of self-regulation by the learner, giving more time for evaluation and reflection. Learners are thus encouraged to progress at their own pace and monitor their own level of achievement.
However, the benefits of multimedia, as an example of new technology, are largely unproven. Research on the use of multimedia in education is sparse, particularly in media comparison studies. Not only is there little quantitative research, but a tendency to ignore the little that has been done, is also reported. The difficulty in determining benchmarks and evaluation measures should clearly not be under-estimated, but without some attempt to assess real advantages, the case for multimedia enhancement is based on assertion only.
In the present study, an attempt was made to measure the effect on ability to learn of adding audio to an interactive multimedia training product. The course material was presented to three groups in three different ways: text only, audio only, and text and audio combined. A course test was administered, following presentation, and the results with respect to knowledge acquired were analysed, using predominantly non-parametric methods due to limited group size. Questionnaires were used to assess user-satisfaction with the course and the mode of presentation. Individual comments on presentation mode are also noted.
No statistical evidence was found in this study for differences in knowledge acquisition relating to audio enhancement. Users also appeared equally happy with any learning mode. While clearly limited by numbers available, this work nevertheless tends to support the view that the real benefits of multimedia in learning have yet to be accurately determined.

MCE-1099:
Can CAL Accommodate All Learners, Irrespective Of Learning Style?
Gerard Doyle

Demands of society and parents, along with the relatively inexpensive availability of computer systems, have resulted in increased installation of computers into schools. Two of the major considerations central to the use of this new technology as an effective component of the teaching-learning environment are, on the learner, and two, the software available. When planning for instruction, account needs to be taken of learners individual differences in terms of learning preferences. Educational Psychology tells us that every person is an is an individual who will think and act differently in every situation, so it is obvious to say that individuals must learn in different way. Educational Psychology has presented us with the area of Learning Styles for this analysis With regard to the software available, collectively termed Computer Assisted Learning (CAL). CAL is not a single type of software, it comprises of Drill and Practice, Tutorial, Simulation, and Games. CAL cannot be introduced into the learning environment without proper, analysis, in its won right, or without regard for the individuals whom it is intended whom it is intended will ultimately benefit from its use. If as Educational Theory tell us - everyone is individual - then certain types of CAL may or may not accommodate effective learning for all learners. This study was designed to investigate the interaction of Barbe and Swassings (Modality) Learning Style Model i.e. Visual, Audio, and Kinaesthetic with the different components of Computer-Assisted Learning (CAL) as a vehicle for effective learning outcomes. Fifty subjects (from an all male secondary school) were divided into two groups participated in the study. The Test Group experienced the topics via CAL, while the Control Group experienced traditional teaching techniques. A Modality Learning Style Test was used to obtain dominant learning style scores. Results indicated that learning outcomes did differ significantly based on subjects' learning style. Visual and Kinaesthetic subjects learned significantly more effectively using CAL than did Audio subjects. While with regard t the Learning Methodologies, in order - 1st - Game, 2nd - Tutorial, 3rd - Drill and Practice, and 4th - Simulation. In the secondary analysis, overall there was no significant difference between the computer based approach and the traditional 'chalk and talk' approaches.

MCE-1199:
The Medium is the Message - The product and the process of Interactive Multimedia Development
James G. Brophy, Patricia Magee

This paper describes and evaluates the process, and the resulting product, of developing multimedia courseware to teach a module on the fundamentals of computer systems to second level Transition Year students. In doing so we attempt to place the role of teaching and learning using Information Technology within the context of a constructivist learning paradigm. We argue the need for such a module, and investigate the feasibility of developing the courseware as a mind tool in the student's construction of an authentic internal model of a computer system.

MCE-1299:
An Examination of the use of a Typing Tutorial Package to benefit Word Processing in a Senior Primary Class
Joseph Carty, Ray Walshe

This dissertation attempts to identify if there is any benefit to the word-processed writing of senior, primary school children having completed the suite of lessons in a typing tutorial package. Possible benefits considered were in terms of both the mechanistic and holistic aspects of their writings. The subjects of this study were sixth-class children who had received no typing tuition prior to the study. Two groups of twenty-seven subjects formed a control and focus group. Data were gathered from pre-tests and post-tests based on transcription and composition exercises. The variables investigated relate to error type, typing speed, error rate, quality of the writing and sentence structure. In terms of the transcription component, the children were assessed using a software program that yielded a gross words per minute score (g.w.m.p.), an error rate while recording the type of errors made. The composition component required the children to write four stories (two pre-test and two post-test) for analysis based on holistic quality, reading ease, modifying word usage and the presence of compound sentences. The children completed a post-test questionnaire so that attitudes concerning the process of writing could be assessed. The study concludes that the primary benefit to word processing from the use of a typing tutorial package is in terms of typing speed (recorded as gross words per minute). There appears to be no evidence to support the view that better typing skills can improve the quality of compositions typed by senior primary children. The study also found no evidence to suggest that typing tuition will result in the writing of sentences that are more structurally complex or more descriptive.

MCE-1399:
Enhancing Mathematical Problem Solving Skills with Computer Assistance
Kieran S. Creaner, Alistair Sutherland

This study focused on the influence of a course of computer based activities on the mathematics attainment levels of a group of primary school pupils. The specific area of most concern was the effect of the programme on the Problem Solving abilities of the children.
Now that the Irish government has finally invested in Information Technology in our schools, the debate about the value of computers and the role of the computer in education has been given a new impetus. A programme of Mathematics teaching, LOGO programming and activity with Problem Solving software was designed and carried out. The Control Group and the Test Group were taught an identical programme of Mathematics and only the Test Group learned programming and worked with the mathematics-based software.
An Irish standardised Mathematics Attainment test (SIGMA-T) was used as a pre-test to establish the attainment level of both groups and as a post-test for evidence of change. The hypotheses that the Test Group mean score would improve was proved and results were scrutinised. Analysis showed that the Test Group's scores improved significantly most of the topic areas tested especially Fractions and Decimals, Algebra and Functions and Data Analysis and Statistics. The study was most concerned with investigating the data for evidence of improvement in the mathematics attributes of the students. In two of the three attributes tested, the Test Group's scores in Concepts and Facts improved significantly, but the scores for Procedures did not show significant change. The most significant improvement was recorded for Problem Solving. This would seem to suggest that the computer-based activities had a positive influence on the results.

MCE-1499:
Analysis Of The Benefits Or Otherwise Of A Subject Resource Web Site For Use By Second Year Undergraduate Marketing Students At The Institute Of Technology, Carlow
Una Grant

The purpose of this working paper is to give an outline of the research study carried out by the author. This research study was designed is to investigate the benefits or otherwise of developing and providing a subject resource web page for students studying Marketing at the Institute of Technology, Carlow. The development of such subject resource web pages is wide spread, yet there seems to be little research into the benefits or drawbacks of providing such resource pages. What are the objectives envisaged when developing and making available subject resource web pages for students and are these objectives achieved? What research there is, seems to concentrate on the academic performance of students as the only measure of achievement. This is a valid measure but this research also seeks to examine what effect, if any, the provision of such a web page has on the information sourcing behaviour of the students concerned. The origin for the research topic was a desire by the author to provide a web based Marketing resource. It was envisaged this web page would act as a source of Marketing theory, but more importantly, a source of practical, applied information. The web page would give the students a ‘launch pad’ to the Marketing information available on the Internet. The reason for such an approach was to improve the students’ ability to apply theory learned in class. Presently, students concentrate on ‘learning by heart’ Marketing theory but often fail to source examples of this theory in practice. Yet this type of application is vital to achieving good grades in this subject. The provision of this web page would give the students an information resource which linked them to the Internet’s large resources.

MCE-1599:
An Investigation into the Effectiveness, Appropriateness & Role of Videoconferencing as a Remote Tutoring Tool for Agricultural Training in Ireland
John Burke, Patricia Magee

Teagasc the Agriculture and Food Development Authority is the national body responsible for the provision of education and training to the agricultural and horticultural sectors in Ireland. New approaches are continually required to meet the changing needs for agricultural training. This study investigates the effectiveness, appropriateness, suitability and other possible roles for videoconferencing in the Teagasc Training Programmes.
Five videoconferencing sessions were arranged/designed and trainees, tutors and a representative sample of Teagasc staff were surveyed to gather their views and opinions with regard to videoconferencing as a remote tutoring tool and its potential role for Teagasc. Pre and post test examinations were used to measure knowledge ‘gain’ and a cost/benefit analysis carried out on a number of case studies to compare costs with conventional delivery methods. There was a 40 percentage points increase in the average class marks for the videoconferences examined. Eighty five percent of trainees felt that videoconferencing was particularly suited to agricultural/horticultural training and over 80% of staff indicated that they would be willing to use the technology.
The study concludes that videoconferencing has a role to play in the delivery of Teagasc Training Programmes and the technology can be successfully used for many other purposes within the organisation. Trainees, tutors and staff in general are positive and receptive to the technology. Teagasc through the adoption and use of videoconferencing should be in a better position to serve the changing and evolving training requirements of their trainees.

MCE-1699:
A Corpus-Based Approach To Evaluating Translations In An Academic Setting
Lynne Bowker, Andy Way

The goal of this study is to develop a corpus-based approach to translation evaluation in an academic setting. Evaluation is an extremely important issue in translation and translator training; however, this complicated and problematic subject has received relatively little attention in the literature of the discipline. The main difficulty associated with translation evaluation is that is often a very subjective exercise, even though there is little room for subjectivity in the translation classroom. Unfortunately, many of the conventional resources available to evaluators do not provide them with a means of quickly attaining the level of conceptual and linguistic knowledge necessary to objectively evaluate a translation in a relatively unfamiliar subject field. Recently however, advances in computer technology, particularly in the discipline of corpus linguistics, have resulted in the development of tools and resources which can facilitate a more objective approach to translation evaluation.
The corpus-based approach allows evaluators who are not subject field experts to judge the students' work more objectively by using a specially designed Evaluation Corpus as a benchmark. This electronic corpus contains a selection of authentic texts written by subject field experts, and evaluators can use these texts to investigate the conceptual and linguistic norms of the subject field in question. Because a corpus is a text-based resource in electronic form, it offers a number of advantages over the conventional resources normally used by evaluators. The evidence in the corpus can be used as a basis not only for identifying a wider range of errors, but also for correcting them. Moreover, the fact that evaluators can back up their intuition with objective and empirical evidence from the corpus means that the students are more willing to accept and learn from the corrections.

MCE-1799:
Internet Based Training in Technical Training Environments
Paul Landers

In the technological revolution that the world is going through the demand for training and retraining in technical subjects is constantly increasing. As the demand grows, new technologies present new methods of delivering courses apart from traditional instructor led training. Internet based training is one such new method that in recent times has grown phenomenally in popularity. This study looks at the effectiveness of Internet-Based Training, specifically in technical training environments, using ongoing work at Ericsson's International Training Centre (ICTC) in Dun Laoghaire, Ireland as the background. As part of the study the development of a module for an Internet based training course on a technical subject is described. The course was called Datacoms and IP Fundamentals and the module was 'The Internet and its Applications'. This development work was carried out at Ericsson's ICTC. It was also at the ICTC that the research for this thesis was undertaken. In a pilot study the module was sat by a selected group of people from the centre and empirical data was gathered on the effectiveness of the course. This pilot study is accompanied by a more comprehensive and wider study of other IBT courses in technical training environments. Finally these IBT courses are compared to more traditional ILT or Instructor Led Training.

MCE-1899:
Observation - based methodology for generating an instructional website
Tanya Christina Holst, Charlie Daly

MCE-1999:
Using and evaluating "CoPS 1" -- a computer based cognitive profiling system used in the Assessment of Special Educational Needs (including Dyslexia) in 4- 8 yr. olds.
Paddy Lee

Until recently the only method of assessing children for reading disabilities such as dyslexia was by administering an intelligence test such as the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children, combined with other tests such as word - recognition or comprehension. This is a time consuming and expensive process as qualified psychologists only may administer intelligence test. CoPS 1, a computer-based cognitive profiling system was developed recently at Hull University and we investigated whether it would offer a practical (and economic) alternative to traditional methods of assessment.
We used the pilot study to test and evaluate the CoPS software. We leased the software for one year and administered the CoPS suite of tests to all pupils sent to the Reading Resources teacher for further assessment. Data generated by this testing was then analysed in the main study to determine whether a gender effect exists among pupils with learning difficulties.

MCE-2099:
Relative perception of icons in graphical user interfaces
Martin Brown

This Study had two functions:
The first part of the Study investigated the comparative perception of children towards three navigational representations: (a) Icons containing pictorial symbols and text labels, (B) Icons containing Pictorial symbols only and (c) Text labels only. The authors decided to study a set of icons that had a commonality of purpose. It was decided to study the three types of navigational representation in the context of a School Web-Site. A pre design study of twenty five School Web-Sites revealed the nine most common Web Pages found on School Web-Sites. Each of these Web-Pages had an associated navigational function. These Web Pages were then matched with a series of Pictorial Icons that best represented their navigational function. The choice of Pictorial Icons to be used in the study was decided upon by students of a similar background and experience and of a similar profile to that of the Test groups. A school web-site was created in three versions, each differing only in the type of visual representation used. A group of students was assigned to each web site type.The students were given situated tasks, which required them to interpret various navigational functions Findings indicated that icons containing pictorial symbols and text labels were more perceptible than pictorial symbols only or text labels only. These findings have practical implications for designers of instructional hypermedia. Many web pages typically use icons containing pictorial symbols only or text labels only. This can create user confusion and frustration during navigation within a web-site where users could become side tracked spending more time trying to navigate within the web-site rather than focusing on the actual information contained within the web page. No significant difference was found between students' perception towards pictorial symbols only and text labels only. This was contradictory to a number of previous studies on usability that found icons to be less perceptible than text labels. The icons used in our study were chosen by students of a Similar Mental model as that of the test group. Because of this, it is suggested that the use of children as our design partners in the development of children's software could have positive implications for the ease and consistency with which a user might use a software program.
The second part of the study investigated the amount of correct responses made by the same group of children using the three types of representation once they had learned the meaning of their functions. The same procedures were used as in the first part of the experiment. It was found that there was no difference between the amount of errors made in the three types of representation once the user had learned their functions. It was also found that the only significant increase in results was for students using pictorial icons. This has practical implications in the design of graphical user interfaces where the use of Mixed Modality Icons seems to be unnecessary once the user has learned the function of the icon.

MCE-2199:
Evaluation Of The Network Computer [NC] Architecture As A Means Of Providing Quality Web-Based Pedagogic Material Within The Context Of A School's Local Area Network
Gerry Murphy, Micheál Ó hÉigeartaigh

Information is the currency in today's world and providing all children with real and equal access to this information is a task facing all educationalists. This research is an investigation of a possible alternative to the standard PC, which may make access more affordable and safer for Irish schools. The research methodology is comprised of two elements.
Firstly, the Network Computer architecture is used to test the viability of using this new technology in a primary school's Local Area Network environment.
Secondly, the technology model is tested using a purpose built web-based teaching strategy for verb recognition, in the context of teaching Irish Grammar to senior primary school children.
The educational content, which is delivered via the world wide web, pilots the idea of using the 'Short-Answer Question Approach' as a method of teaching and imparting information in a web-based setting. This idea is a change from using it exclusively as a testing apparatus. Teaching strategies other than the Short-Answer Approach are also used to complement the material. The production of the test ware relies heavily on the Hot Potatoes suite of applications, which has been developed to provide language teaching web-based content. This piloting of Irish Language content proposes to test the viability for placing such content on the World Wide Web. The web-based learning strategy is tested on senior primary school pupils under experimental conditions and statistically evaluated thereafter. It investigates the effects of teaching a very traditional grammar lesson in an ancient language using one or other of the technology or traditional teaching methods that are available to teachers at the end of the twentieth century. The research provides timely results, conclusions and recommendations as we enter a new millenium.

MCE-2299:
Using Hypermedia through offline browsing as a means of presenting lessons to ten year old pupils: An evaluation
John Harte, David Sinclair

An experimental study was carried out during Spring, 1999 in which 72 pupils in a 4th class, ( age c. 10 years ) at St Patrick's Senior National School, Skerries, Co. Dublin were divided into three groups. The control group [C] was taught Geography / Environmental Studies in a traditional manner, using a book and "talk and chalk" approach. Experimental group [A] was taught using hypermedia presentation of content, predominantly downloaded from World Wide Web sites. The third group [B] used this material for half of the time and received the same treatment as group C for the remainder. Comparison of post-test results indicates that neither the experimental, control nor "Both" methods were significantly superior.

MCE-2399:
Computer-Mediated Communication for Distance Learning
Gearóid Ó Duibhir

This dessertation examines the attitudes to computer-mediated communication for distance learning in terms of its pedagogical benefits, its practical implementation and the design criteria used in its development. With the widespread availability of computers and the popularity of the Internet, educators have been quick to recognise the educational potential of offering full courses on-line or of using the communication tools of the computer to supplement their existing courses. This has led to the development of countless CMC courses in a very short time thus revitalising distance learning by allowing for the utilisation of more modern methods of communication. In order to avail of the most up-to-date information available on this topic, those involved in designing, offering and teaching CMC courses for distance learning were invited to complete an on-line questionnaire covering the main features of this study. Following a review of the literature pertaining to the subject, an analysis of the results gathered was compiled and conclusions were drawn from the substantial body of information amassed.

MCE-2499:
Computer Based Learning in an Irish Secondary School - with particular reference to Biology
Mick Moriarty

The primary aim of this dissertation is to investigate the role of computers in learning a particular topic at second level. Specifically, it deals with the topic The Human Eye from the Leaving Certificate Biology syllabus. It does so with a view to clarifying the advantages or otherwise of using computers in learning Biology. It also investigates the quality of the students' learning experience using a series of pedagogical dimensions derived by Reeves and Harmon. In this pilot study, evidence was collected from a variety of sources to address the following question of whether or not Computer Based Learning can be used effectively? These sources of evidence include comparisons in the area of teaching and learning strategies, attitudes to computers, results of pre-, post-, and end-of-year tests of students, and reports from the author's observations and a student log book. The object of the empirical study was to compare the traditional method of learning using a combination of laboratory and textbook, with a method based on a CD-ROM supplemented by a number of web sites to determine which method facilitates greater learning. Statistical tests indicated that there was a significance difference in the post-test means of the experimental and control groups and therefore the traditional method of 'chalk and talk' was better suited to the requirements of the Leaving Certificate examination. The qualitative data obtained from the students explored the underlying learning theory of the educational software, thus showing why the above conclusion was reached.

MCE-2599:
Web Based Applications in Distance Education: Factors Affecting Usability
Francis Lafferty

The focus of this study was to analyse those factors that affect the usability of web-based applications. Education today is going through a process of 'reengineering'. Distance education is playing an increasingly important role in this. Delivery of distance education programmes takes many different forms. Increasingly the Internet is playing a central role in the distance education process. With developments in technology the Internet is set to play an increasingly important role. Research focused on why students undertake distance education programmes, what they expect from them, the importance of dialogue in distance education, the impact of technology in distance education, and factors which affect the usability of web sites. The study involved the creation of a web-based application based on teaching students basic computer architecture concepts. The test group consisted of people of varying computer experience. They were given a period of time to become familiar with the application and to perform a series of tasks. The finding of the study suggests that those factors which affect the usability of a web-based application include consistency in interface design, the use of images to enhance the learning process, a flexible navigation system, and the provision of a search facility to facilitate information retrieval.

MCE-2699:
The Internet: The Potential Role of Web Based Learning in the Art Classroom.
Sean Patterson

This dissertation seeks to develop a range of potential strategies for the employment and development of Web Based Art resources in the Art classroom.

MCE-2799:
Can computers improve secondary school students' performance in spatial ability aptitude tests?
Colum Anthony MacMahon

MCE-2899:
An Investigation into a Possible Use of Flatfile Databases in Activity Based Primary School Science
Aodhagán Ó Súird

A new Social Environmental and Scientific Education curriculum, with Science as an integral part, will be introduced in Irish primary schools soon. This pilot project looks at the possibility of integrating one part of ICTs, i.e. flatfile databases, into activity based primary science lessons. The pupils were introduced to a flatfile database package (ClarisWorks 5.0) and took part in an exercise to create a database ab initio. Half the pupils then used the database to answer some queries on the data while the other half of the pupils answered the same queries using a printed copy of the database. Two days after completing the exercises, the pupils were tested and the results compared to see if there was any difference in the retention of information. The pupils who carried out the exercises using the printed form of the database scored higher. However a statistical analysis of the results to see if there was any significant difference in the learning of the two groups, proved inconclusive at the 0.01 and 0.05 levels of significance. However the pupils learned to use the databases easily,and all preferred using the computer based database for querying the data . It was felt that the using databases should become an integral part of investigations in primary science. Using them was seen as an excellent way of integrating Information and Communication Technologies into active science learning and also of involving the children in realistic scientific scientific investigations.

MCE-2999:
Computer assisted language learning : with particular emphasis on learning
Brian Bergin

The subject of this study is computer assisted language learning. The specific item under investigation is the effectiveness of computers in teaching grammar. The methodology involved using a control group being taught the Present Perfect Simple by a teacher using the Communicative Approach to language teaching, and an experimental group using a commercial software product. The result showed no significant difference in performance. As efficacy studies have failed to provide conclusive evidence either way it is difficult to say with any certitude whether the results here are exceptional or not. In terms of trends in research, efficacy studies are giving way to research into the process of learning which has been inspired by developments in theories of second language acquisition. This type of research currently involves tracking students' use of computers so that models of performance can be created, giving an insight into how students use computers to learn.

MCE-3099:
The application of computer based training software in adult literacy
Dave Tobin

This pilot study examined the use of a Computer Based Training (CBT) software package, and its application by adult literacy students with spelling difficulties. It investigated whether adults who undertook a program using CBT software show a greater improvement in their literacy skills than students who do not experience such a program of learning. Twenty-two students from three different literacy projects in Dublin participated with the study. The students were divided into two groups and were pre-tested using spelling lists. Each group then commenced a specified period of learning spelling. One group used the conventional method (Tutor Instruction) the second group used the CBT method (Computer Instruction). After the learning period was completed, both groups were Post-tested using the spelling lists and the effectiveness of both methods was evaluated using quantitative methodology. The results of the statistical analysis suggested that the Computer Instructed group showed more of an improvement than the Tutor Instructed group. Qualitative data obtained from the Computer Instructed students in the form of a questionnaire also suggested that the CBT method was a more enjoyable way for the adults to learn spelling.