Orthographic research

   I. Introduction

   In the academic year 1990-1991, I carried out a research project which consisted of finding the efficiency of new technologies for learning orthography by E.G.B. students of 6 to 14 years of age, as well as the validity and effectiveness of the Orthography Software. The research was carried out in eight public and private schools in the Terual province conducting an initial trial in September 1990 and another one in June 1991 after having used the computers throughout the entire course.

   II. Objectives

   1. Calculate the difference between the students’ performance in orthography that used the computers and those who did not.

   2. Prove if the Orthography Software yielded positive results in learning the subject.

   III. Procedure

   A. Four E.G.B. schools were chosen, which participated in the Atenea Project, and were provided with sufficient computers (C.P. Miguel Vallés de Teruel, C.P. de Escucha, C.P. de Utrillas and C.P. de Andorra), while the other four schools, similar to the previous ones, did not have computers (C.P. Ensanche de Teruel, C.P. de Montalbán, Colegio de Minas y Ferrocarriles de Utrillas and Colegio Endesa de Andorra). A total of 1,981 students participated in the project.

   B. A meeting with the professors of each center was held in early September in order to inform about the project and ensure its implication and implementation.

   C. The tools used were two:

   – The Orthography Software created by the author of this article with the QuickBasic 4.0 MS-DOS compiler. Exercises of BV, GJ, H, CZ, LLY, MN, RR, SX, accents, capital letters and punctuation marks were conducted.

   – Two series of objective trials of orthography containing 110 questions each, referring to the orthographic difficulties mentioned above. Both series had a similar difficulty level. The first series was applied in September of 1990 and the second one in June of 1991.

   D. The research process was as follows:

   1. In September, an orthography trial was conducted for all students of all the eight schools.

   2. Throughout the entire school year the eight centers of the Atenea Project taught orthography with the computers available using the Orthography Software. Similarly, the other four schools that did not have computers taught orthography through their envisaged teaching method. All schools dedicated the same amount of school hours to the teaching of orthography.

   3. In June 1991 the second evaluation trial was implemented in all of the eight schools.

   4. After carrying out the analysis of the data and reach conclusions, the results were presented to the clusters of the eight centers by using four types of transparencies:

   a. Center Transparency: in order to display the graphs of the arithmetic average of the first and second trial, the points of improvement and the significance of the difference between points in both of the trials for each course and each center in a global manner.

   b. Course Transparency: in order to compare orthographic performance in the same course in each of the eight centers.

   c. General Transparency: in order to compare the eight schools and summary each of their respective results.

   d. Improvement Transparency: in order to illustrate the results and conclusions of the research project.

   IV. Data Analysis

   Once the orthography trials were checked (initial and final), the following calculations were conducted:

   A. Arithmetic average of the students’ achievements of each course in the first and second trial, as well as the school’s general average.

   B. Standard deviation of each course in both trials.

   C. Difference between the average of the first and second trial in the four schools with computers and those without computers.

   D. Standard error of the difference.

   E. Critical or conscious ratio between the difference of averages and standard errors.

   With these calculations, the results of the research could be grouped in three categories:

   1. If the critical ratio is less than 1.96, then the difference of averages is not significant, in other words, there was not a substantial improvement in learning and the slight improvements achieved could be due to hazard.

   2. If the critical ratio is between 1.96 and 2.56, then the difference is significant.

   3. If the critical ratio is more than 2.56, then the difference between the averages is very significant. In this case, the improvement of learning is important and cannot be due to hazard.

   F. The calculations were conducted in three levels:

   1. The significance between the differences of averages was derived in order to compare each course within the same school before and after the trial.

   2. The general average of each school and its improvement in learning orthography throughout the school year was calculated.

   3. The average of the four centers with computers and the average of the other four centers with the traditional orthography teaching method were calculated.

V. Conclusions

   1. All schools improved their orthographic level by the end of the school year: the centers that used the computers and the Orthography Software obtained an average of 80.72 points over 110 possible points in the first trial, and an average of 88.06 points in the second trial. The centers that followed the traditional system obtained 82.08 points in the first trial and 87.89 points in the second. In both cases the global improvement is significant (10.94 and 10.90).

   2. The improvement was higher in the centers that used the computers (with a 7.34 point difference between the trials of September and June) than in those schools following the traditional method (with 5.81 points).

   Doctor Grisay, researcher for the Lieja University, asserted in the 2nd European Congress of Inspectors that out of the numerous research studies conducted it is inferred that computer assisted teaching reduces learning time by 30 percent, or in other words, during the same period of time students assimilate 30 percent more knowledge.

   In our case, there was a 26 percent improvement rate in the orthographic learning in the centers that used the computers over the other four who did not.

   3. The Orthography Software that was used for the research project has a satisfactory validity, since its use has caused a 26 percent improvement increase in students’ results.

   (Translated by Gianna A. Sanchez Moretti).
   Arturo Ramo

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