Effects of a Virtual Manipulative on Male African American Middle School Special Education Students’ Knowledge in Social Studies

By Nikki Rana.

Published by The International Journal of Learning: Annual Review

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: October 4, 2016 $US5.00

Studies documenting the effects of social studies software on special education students are scarce due to the small number of applications and the difficulty of gathering consistent data. This is because students often suffer from mental, emotional, behavioral, and physical instability. This study was intended to determine whether assistive technology is beneficial in this regard. The study used Study Island software, which provides students and teachers self-adjusting, customizable social studies coursework. The study examined the suitability of the software in increasing the academic performance of middle school special education students at Pandale School, a public separate school. This quantitative, experimental study compared two sets of randomly assigned students who used identical learning materials, presented in either print or software form. The demographics of the school dictated the participant pool, which consisted of eleven- to twenty-year-old African American males. Using two mixed model ANOVAs, the pretest and posttest scores and test completion times of each group were compared to determine the software’s efficacy. Every experimental group participant saw an increase in test scores from pretest to posttest. After controlling for preexisting conditions, it was observed that the type of instruction variable explained 18 percent of the test score variance between groups, as represented by partial η2, p < .0001, indicating a rejection of the null hypothesis and a finding that the software had a positive effect on the participants’ test scores. An analysis of test completion times for the pretest (M = 43.64) and posttest (M = 33.23) showed that the mean test scores differed significantly, F(1.000, 38.0000 = 90.184, p = 0.001) from pretest to posttest and amongst both groups, and suggested that the null hypothesis should not be rejected and that the Study Island virtual manipulative had neither positive nor negative effects on test completion times. The results indicated the usefulness of Study Island as one tool of many in the classroom. Future studies targeting specific demographics and student needs are indicated.

Keywords: Special Education, Middle School, Assistive Technology

The International Journal of Learning: Annual Review, Volume 23, 2016, pp.59-84. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: October 4, 2016 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 629.495KB)).

Dr. Nikki Rana

Principal, Iman Academy Southeast, Houston, Texas, USA