Web-based Direct Instruction in Mathematics for Low Achievers

M. Graff and M. Lebens (UK)

Keywords

Webbased education, EPedagogy, Mathematics Instruction

Abstract

EFit is the first web based tutoring system for lower secondary school mathematics in Germany. It generates a systematic learning schedule to meet the individual demands of different students. In contrast to the more traditional Computer Assisted Instruction programs, the web-based eFit program is characterized by a high degree of adaptability. Given that no comparable programme currently exists in Germany, it is worth evaluating the usefulness of eFit for the target group, namely low achieving students. The study was carried out in North Rhine Westphalia (NRW), where the mathematics curricula tend to de-emphasize direct or explicit instruction in favour of open ended, exploratory methods, which can be characterised as constructivist. However, the present paper argues that the constructivist-inspired reform pedagogy does not serve the needs of all target groups and has adverse effects for low achievers. On the other hand, there is abundant evidence that direct instruction leads to significant learning gains for low achievers. This was confirmed in the present research: where students in the treatment group improved significantly compared to students who received traditional, constructivist–inspired instruction. The implications of the findings for web-based instruction of this kind are considered.

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