Microcomputer uses in education: A model for using the computer to help children develop the concept of probability by peers interacting at the zone of proximal development.
AuthorMontes, Felix Manuel.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThis study diagnosed probability awareness and induced greater understanding through combining social organization, probabilistic scenarios, and computer assistance. Third and fifth grade children were the focus of a computer interactive approach that involved fifth graders helping third graders within the Vygotskian concept of Zone of Proximal Development. The computer was used as a mediational means where probabilistic scenarios--classified by their level of difficulty, number of choices and type of probability--were presented to the children and immediate feedback given on their success in approaching the problems. College students were tested using the same scenarios to establish a standard that would be subsequently used to measure children's success. In the pretest all children demonstrated more probabilistic mathematical cognition than verbal ability to express such understanding (50 versus 33 percent of success). The posttest displayed a significant improvement in both experimental groups (one third and one fifth grade). The improvement was both mathematical (success rate moved up 60%) and verbal (54%). The experimental group posttests did not indicate significant differences. The most important finding was that the difference by gender overshadows any credible age structure. All experimental girls' mathematical success rate was almost 70%, approaching closely the college rate of 77%, with third graders doing even better than fifth graders, due to the help received during treatment from both the fifth grade girls and the computer. This provides strong support for the Zone theory. Verbal ability was well over 70%. This gender difference could be interpreted as a structurally developmental factor, but it could also advocate for the need to employ alternative presentation according to gender. Level of difficulty (degree of choices closeness) and types of probability (frequency or proportion) proved to be better indicators of probability awareness than number of choices. The verbal analysis showed a preference for the children to express probability statements in terms of frequency. However, the treatment was successful in eliciting some proportional explanations, demonstrating that a 9-year-old child can entertain and verbalize proportional thoughts. The study concluded that probability assessment and improvement might be more difficult to achieve because of children's verbal limitations than because of their mathematical cognition.
Degree ProgramEducational Psychology