Opportunities and responsibilities

The use of computers in education is often thought of as a means of putting sound pedagogical principles and techniques into practice. However, such use can also contribute to building the empirical foundations for those techniques. This can occur in two ways. First, CAI programs can collect data on student performance for the purpose of identifying prominent weaknesses and for investigating processes involved in mastering various tasks and learning particular subject matters. In every discipline, from the sciences to the humanities, there are important questions to be answered concerning the difficulties students have in learning and applying various concepts and techniques. CAI can aid in answering those questions. Second, CAI programs can be used to document student performance for the purpose of program evaluation. While providing instruction, computers can serve as data collection devices that provide precise behavioral measures, including response time, of student learning. CAI programs can thus facilitate their own evaluation. In both of these applications, computers function akin to other observational instruments in the sciences.
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