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A Controlled Comparison Of Traditional Classroom Instruction With Computer Based Instruction In An Engineering Class

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1996 Annual Conference


Washington, District of Columbia

Publication Date

June 23, 1996

Start Date

June 23, 1996

End Date

June 26, 1996



Page Count


Page Numbers

1.5.1 - 1.5.5



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Paper Authors

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Steven M. Click

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Jr., John W. Baugh

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Joseph E. Hummer

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Bhavani P. Konuru

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

I .— - Session 3215 , ......

—.. - A Controlled Comparison of Traditional Classroom Instruction with Computer Based Instruction in an Engineering Class

Joseph E. Hummer, John W. Baugh, Jr., Bhavani P. Konuru, and Steven M. Click North Carolina State University


Educators have long considered using computer-based instruction (CBI) because it promises both self- paced, interactive education for students and greater efficiency for instructors. In the past, the resources necessary for CBI were in short supply, but now that many universities maintain powerful computing environments, questions about the effectiveness and efficiency of CBI arise.

To investigate the effectiveness of CBI, the project team developed three CBI units--one each for design, analysis, and background information--for use in a junior-level transportation engineering class. The team then conducted controlled experiments with the units. The team divided the participating class randomly in half. An exam covering material other than that in the CBI units was used to ensure that neither group had superior students. One group received traditional classroom instruction while the other used the CBI unit. The team administered surveys to both groups before and after the use of the CBI units to determine student opinions. The same homework problem was given to both groups immediately after instruction. Finally, all students were tested over the material during an in-class exam. The team determined effectiveness of the CBI units via statistical analysis of homework scores, test scores, and survey responses from the two groups.

Based on the analysis of group scores, CBI was as effective as traditional classroom instruction. In addition, student attitudes toward the class and toward the engineering profession in general were not affected by the use of CBI. The results indicate that CBI has potential; however, questions on the efficiency of CBI remain.


Educators have long considered using computer-based instruction (CBI) because it promises interactive, self-paced, highly visual, easily measured learning. In the past, a lack of available computing power made CBI infeasible at many universities. However, now that powerfid computing platforms are routinely available, new questions arise: Do students using CBI learn as well as students receiving traditional classroom instruction? Which courses and types of problems are best suited to CBI? Are the hopes of educators justified?

A number of authors have published results on the effectiveness of CB11>2>3. However, most of these experiments were performed in the humanities, and little research has been done on the effectiveness of CBI in engineering. In an attempt to determine CBI’S effectiveness in engineering, three CBI units--one each for design (open-ended problems with no single “right answer”), analysis (closed-type problems with a single “right answer”), and review of background information--were developed for use in a junior-level transportation engineering class4. Experiments then compared the effectiveness of two of these units with traditional classroom ‘ . . ..- - $iii’1996 ASEE Annual Conference Proceedings } ‘..,~yy’,?

Click, S. M., & Baugh, J. J. W., & Hummer, J. E., & Konuru, B. P. (1996, June), A Controlled Comparison Of Traditional Classroom Instruction With Computer Based Instruction In An Engineering Class Paper presented at 1996 Annual Conference, Washington, District of Columbia. 10.18260/1-2--5940

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