Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

An Examination of Technical and Pedagogical Usability Within the Successmaker Math Program
by Krause, Robin Fraleigh Montgomery, Ed.D., The Florida State University, 2018, 150; 10789927
Abstract (Summary)

Mathematics involves abstract concepts and students often find it difficult to understand this complex subject (Ramani & Patadia, 2012). In order to succeed and wrestle with the difficulties in math, students should use different approaches to learning mathematics such as computer-assisted instruction (CAI) (Ramani & Patadia, 2012). Schools have invested in CAI programs to supplement instruction and these programs are also used as means to generate data to inform “the degree to which students meet learning goals” (Halverson & Shapiro, 2012. p. 1). Computer programs that prove difficult to use, cannot be customized to the learner or have poor user-interface, do not provide users with the experiences they want (Halverson & Shapiro, 2012). The degree to which learners experience programs as easy to use has been defined as technical usability and, the degree to which learners experience programs as easy to learn has been defined as pedagogical usability (Nokelainen, 2006). The purpose of this mixed methods study is to examine students’ subjective technical and pedagogical usability experiences with the SuccessMaker (SME) CAI program because the presence of good usability features can reinforce skills and support learning. SME is an adaptive intervention tutorial program designed to supplement math and adjust instruction to meet students’ needs (Pearson Digital Learning, (n.d.). Additionally, SME states that students experience less frustration with the math lessons because the learning paths guide students to performance goals (Pearson Digital Learning, n.d.). A wealth of studies have measured student outcomes after using computer math programs. However, these studies were inconclusive and failed to take a holistic view of the processes and inputs involved in using computer programs. Moreover, within computer programs, digital skills and learning features are not always explicitly taught or measured in elementary schools; however, students are being required to use computers as supplements to math instruction. A paucity of studies have measured usability constructs, which can support successful experiences using computer programs. Further investigation warrants a usability study in order to maximize, and support time spent learning, because computer programs should be easy to use and easy to learn.

This case study employs a mixed methods, non-experimental research design to examine students’ usability experiences with the SME CAI math program. The Pedagogically Meaningful Learning Questionnaire (PMLQ) (Nokelainen, 2005) was administered to fifth grade students to answer the first research question and examine the degree to which technical usability scales are present within SME. Three focus groups were also conducted to answer the second research question, and examine students’ subjective experiences with both technical and pedagogical usability constructs.

Overall, the results of this investigation indicated that relevant information can be learned from students’ experiences with CAI programs. Findings from the PMLQ, on average, revealed neither good nor poor usability within the following scales: accessibility, learnability and memorability, user control, graphical layout, reliability and memory load. Findings from the PMLQ revealed poor usability within the help, consistency, errors, and efficiency scales. Findings from the focus groups revealed good usability within the applicability, graphical layout, reliability constructs, and poor usability within learner control, learner activity, goal orientation, added value, motivation, valuation of previous knowledge, flexibility and feedback constructs as a result of subjective student experiences. The identification of good usability features has implications for supporting the ease of use and learning within the SME math CAI program. Conversely, the identification of poor usability features has implications for inhibiting the ease of learning within the SME math CAI program.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Preston, Courtney
Commitee: Boyle, Helen, Ke, Fengfeng, Rutledge, Stacey
School: The Florida State University
Department: Educational Leadership & Policy Studies
School Location: United States -- Florida
Source: DAI-A 79/12(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Educational administration
Keywords: Computer assisted instruction, Math, Usability
Publication Number: 10789927
ISBN: 978-0-438-30769-8
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