Improving Instruction through the Evaluation of
Computer-Interactive Teaching

Cite as: Gardner, Traci. "Improving Instruction Through theEvaluation of Computer-Interactive Teaching." Center for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Grant, Virginia Tech, Spring 1994.


While the Department of English has embraced technologicaladvances in order to improve teaching, the pedagogical implicationsof this new technology have not been fully examined. Because of therelative infancy of the field, existing studies offer mixedconclusions about the best ways to improve instruction incomputer-interactive classes. Departmental evaluations currentlyunderway are gathering preliminary data to this end; however, they donot consider the full range of influences computers have uponteaching nor do they include comparative data to determine howcomputer-interactive learning differs from that in the traditionalclassroom.

This project will evaluate teaching with computers in thenetworked-computer classroom, in the traditional classroom, and inon-line "classrooms" on the Internet, using qualitative andquantitative methods, to develop pedagogically sound teachingstrategies and tools which strengthen the effectiveness andefficiency of computer-interactive teaching in the Department of English.

Specific Activities

The work to be completed. In order to examine students' cognitivegains, their interaction and participation, and the efficiency ofinstruction, the evaluation will include a year-long analysis ofcomputer-interactive teaching in all English classes meeting in thenetworked classroom and those using the internet for class work andof comparable teaching in the traditional classroom.

Steps in the project. Based on my research and on preliminary workconducted Fall 1993 and underway Spring 1994, I anticipate that theevaluation will include the following:

The specific evaluation activities will vary according to thegoals of the particular courses being taught.

Time-line of accomplishments. Data will be gathered throughout theFall 1994 and Spring 1995 semesters from all English classes meeting in the computer-integrated classroom, those using computer-mediatedinstruction in concert with the traditional classroom, and thosebeing conducted on-line. At the same time, comparative data will begathered from English classes in the traditional classroom. DuringSpring 1995, preliminary analysis can be drawn from surveys andtranscripts. The final analysis of data will occur during Summer1995, and the application of the findings to the English classroomshould begin in Fall 1995. Comparative research will also beundertaken in Fall 1995 to determine how the findings of thisevaluation improve departmental teaching.


The outcomes of this evaluation will be assessed by surveyingteachers, examining teaching evaluation scores, and conductingfurther comparative research, after the implementation of thenewly-designed teaching strategies and tools, in order to determinehow the effectiveness and efficiency of computer-interactive teachinghas been affected.

Funding Requested

From The Center for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching


Teaching Released Time for Fall 1994


Teaching Released Time for Spring 1995

From the Department of English as Cost-Sharing


Photocopying of samples, surveys, administrative documents, and the like


Honoraria for holistic grading team of 5 to 7 members


Work Study Student (10 hours/week for 30 weeks)
[to assist in logging and transcribing class interaction]

Anticipated Impact

This evaluation will give the university a clearer sense of thepotential effect of computer technology but, more importantly, itwill allow the delineation of specific criteria and recommendationsfor the strategies and tools which should be developed to increasethe efficiency and effectiveness of all English classes usingcomputer-interactive teaching strategies.