Brian Bottge, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Enrique Rueda, University of Wisonsin-Madison
Abstract: The purpose of this randomized experiment was to evaluate two ways of assessing the math skills of 132 middle school students after they had been taught with an instructional method called Enhanced Anchored Instruction (EAI). Specifically, this study was designed to determine whether students at three skill levels (novice, typical, and expert) would demonstrate the same or different levels of understanding on a computer-based assessment (CBA) as compared with a pencil-paper assessment (PPA). A second objective was to trace the search-path maps of a sample of students at each skill level as they worked on the CBA to identify possible differences in their problem-solving strategies. It was predicted that the CBA would eliminate some of the cognitive demands of problems for low-achieving students, thereby enabling them to more fully demonstrate their understanding of the math concepts they had learned. Overall, results showed students at each skill level demonstrated understanding of the EAI, and no differences in student performance were found between CBA and PPA. In both test conditions, high achievers outscored average achievers, who in turn outscored low achievers. Search-path maps generated from the analyses of students' interactions with items on the CBA revealed important differences in students' problem-solving strategies by ability level. At the conference, the generation of these maps will be shown as students are working on the CBA. Theoretical and practical implications of the study will be discussed.