Using Technology to Teach Academic Skills

What is the evidence base? A strong level of evidence based on a high quality meta-analysis of 39 studies including 22 between group designs, 16 single subject designs, and 1 qualitative design.

With whom was it implemented?

  • A total of 1,491 participants were included
  • Students with
    • learning disabilities
    • traumatic brain injuries
    • Down syndrome
    • mental retardation
  • Ages ranged from 12 – 22 years old
  • 21 studies included samples that were predominately male, while 3 studies had samples that were predominately female, and 15 studies did not report gender percentages
  • Ethnicity/race information were not reported for all participants

What is the practice and where is the best place to find out how to do this practice: Technology can be defined in many ways:

  • Computer-based instruction (CBI) is when computers or associated technology are used to improve students' skills, knowledge, or academic performance (Okolo et al., 1993)
  • Computer-assisted instruction (CAI) includes software designed to provide instruction and practice for meeting specific learning objectives or goals with drill-and-practice or tutorial instruction (Kulik & Kulik, 1987; Posgrow, 1990)
  • Computer-enriched instruction (CEI) is the utilization of computer technology to augment instruction and includes usage of the computer as a calculating tool, a programming tool, and to conduct simulations (Kulik & Kulik, 1987)
  • Computer-managed instruction (CMI), also referred to as integrated learning system (ILS), is used to describe the application of computer technology and extensive software programs designed to present sequential instruction to students over extended periods of time while maintaining records of student progress (Kulik, 2003, May).
  • Largest percentage of studies were reading (n=14), mathematics (n=7), writing (n=5), health topics (n=2), and other topics such as active student engagement and emotional recognition (n=11)

For Technology Research to Practice Lesson Plan Starters:

Due to the program and software specificity of the included articles, no research to practice lesson plan starters could be developed.

Where has it been implemented?

  • Special education classrooms (high school, n=23; middle school, n=5)
  • Special schools (private or residential, n= 4)
  • Unspecified settings (n=7)

References used to establish this evidence base:

Dugan, J. J., Cobb, R. B., & Alwell, M. (2007). The effects of technology-based interventions on academic outcomes for youth with disabilities. Ft. Collins, CO: Colorado State University, School of Education.

Additional References:

Bahr, C., Kinzer, C. K., & Reith, H. (1991). An analysis of the effects of teacher training and student grouping on reading comprehension skills among mildly handicapped high school students using computer-assisted instruction. Journal of Special Education Technology, 11, 136-154.

Braden, J., Booth, K., S., S., Leach, J., & MacDonald, B. (1989). The effects of microcomputer telecommunication on hearing-impaired children's literacy and language. Volta Review, 91, 143-150.

Calhoon, M. B., Fuchs, L. S., & Hamlett, C. L. (2000). Effects of computer-based test accommodations on mathematics performance assessments for secondary students with learning disabilities. Learning Disability Quarterly, 23, 271-282.

Collins, M., & Carnine, D. (1988). Evaluating the field test revision process by comparing two versions of a reasoning skills CAI program. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 21, 375-379.

Elkind, J., Cohen, K., & Murray, C. (1993). Using computer-based readers to improve reading comprehension of students with dyslexia. Annals of Dyslexia, 43, 238-259.

Farmer, M. E., Klein, R., & Bryson, S. E. (1992). Computer-assisted reading: Effects of whole- word feedback on fluency and comprehension in readers with severe disabilities. Remedial and Special Education, 13, 50-60.

Gallaher, K. M., van Kraayenoord, C. E., Jobling, A., & Moni, K. B. (2002). Reading with Abby: A case study of individual tutoring with a young adult with Down syndrome. Down Syndrome Research and Practice, 8(2), 59-66.

Higgins, K., Boone, R., & Lovitt, T. C. (1996). Hypertext support for remedial students and students with learning disabilities. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 29, 402-412.

Holt-Ochsner, L. K., & Manis, F. R. (1992). Automaticity training for dyslexics: An experimental study. Annals of Dyslexia, 42, 222-241.

Horton, S., & Lovitt, T. C. (1988). Teaching geography to high school students with academic deficits: Effects of a computerized map tutorial. Learning Disability Quarterly, 11, 371-379.

Horton, S. V., Lovitt. T.C., & Givens, A. (1988). A computer-based vocabulary program for three categories of student. British Journal of Educational Technology, 19, 131-143.

Horton, S. V., Lovitt. T.C., Givens, A., & Nelson. R. (1989). Teaching social studies to high school students with academic handicaps in a mainstreamed setting: Effects of a computerized study guide. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 22, 102-107.

Johns, G. A., Skinner, C. H., & Nail, G. N. (2000). Effects of interspersing briefer mathematics problems on assignment choice in students with learning disabilities. Journal of Behavioral Education, 10, 95-106.

Johnson, G., Gersten, R., & Carnine, D. (1987). Effects of instructional design variables on vocabulary acquisition of LD students: A study of computer-assisted instruction. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 20, 206-213.

Keene, S., & Davey, B. (1987). Effects of computer-presented text on LD adolescents' reading behaviors. Learning Disability Quarterly, 10, 283-290.

Kelly, B., Gersten, R., & Carnine, D. (1990). Student error patterns as a function of curriculum design: teaching fractions to remedial high school students and high school students with learning disabilities. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 23, 23-29.

Knapczyk, D. (1991). Effects of modeling in promoting generalization of student question asking and question answering. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 6, 75-82.

Leung, J. P. (1994). Teaching simple addition to children with mental retardation using a microcomputer. Journal of Behavioral Education, 4, 355-367.

MacArthur, C. A., & Haynes, J. B. (1995). Student assistant for learning from text (SALT): A hypermedia reading aid. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 28, 150-159.

Malouf, D. B. (1987). The effect of instructional computer games on continuing student motivation. Journal of Special Education, 21(4), 27-38.

Malouf, D. B., Wizer, D. R., Pilato, V. H., & Grogan, M. M. (1990). Computer-assisted instruction with small groups of mildly handicapped students. Journal of Special Education, 24(1), 51-68.

Margalit, M. (1995). Effects of social skills training for students with an intellectual disability. International Journal of Disability, Development & Education, 42(1), 75-85.

Margalit, M. & Roth, Y. B. (1989). Strategic keyboard training and spelling improvement among children with learning disabilities and mental retardation. Educational Psychology, 9, 321-329.

Okolo, C. M. (1992). The effects of computer-based attribution retraining on the attributions, persistence, and mathematics computation of students with learning disabilities. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 25, 327-334.

Okolo, C. M., Hinsey, M., & Yousefian, B. (1990). Learning disabled students' acquisition of keyboarding skills and continuing motivation under drill-and-practice and game conditions. Learning Disabilities Research, 5, 100-109.

Putz, L. (1987). Do Closed Captioned Lessons Enhance Reading Comprehension in the Hearing Impaired Adolescent? (Master's thesis, Keen College of New Jersey, 1987). (ERIC Document Reproductive Service No. ED283136).

Rieth, H., Bahr, C., Okolo, C. M., Polsgrove, L., & Eckert, R. (1988). An analysis of the impact of microcomputers on the secondary special education classroom ecology. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 4, 425-441.

Rieth, H., Bahr, C., Polsgrove, L., Okolo, C. M., & Eckert, R. (1987). The effects of microcomputers on the secondary special education classroom ecology. Journal of Special Education Technology, 8(4), 36-45.

Silver, M., & Oakes, P. (2001). Evaluation of a new computer intervention to teach people with autism or Asperger syndrome to recognize and predict emotions in others. Autism, 5, 299-316.

Sturm, J. M., & Rankin-Erickson, J. L. (2002). Effects of hand-drawn and computer-generated concept mapping on the expository writing of middle school students with learning disabilities. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 17, 124-139.

Thomas-Stonell, N., Johnson, P., Schuller, R., & Jutai, J. (1995). Evaluation of a computer-based program for remediation of cognitive-communication skills. Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation, 9, 25-37.

Twomey, C. R., & Monkowski, C. A. (2001). Computer training for special needs students and teachers in a cooperative setting. Journal of Instruction Delivery Systems, 15(4), 22-26.

Wizer, D. R. (1995). Small group instruction using microcomputers: Focus on group behaviors. Journal of Research in Computing in Education, 28, 121-132.

Woodward, J., Carnine, D., & Gersten, R. (1988). Teaching problem solving through computer simulation. American Educational Research Journal, 25(1), 72-86.

Woodward, J., Carnine, D., Gersten, R., Gleason, M., Johnson, G., & Collins, M. (1986). Applying instructional design principles to CAI for mildly handicapped students: Four recently conducted studies. Journal of Special Education Technology, 8(1), 13-26.

Woodward, J., & Rieth, H. (1997). A historical review of technology research in special education. Review of Educational Research, 67, 503-536. 

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