Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

Ann Thompson

Second Advisor

William Miller


The purpose of the study was to investigate the effectiveness of three selected hierarchies of positive reinforcement stimuli (i.e., text, text with sound, and text with moving picture as well as sound effects) coupled with different presentation schedules (i.e., continuous, fixed-ratio, and variable-ratio) on computer-based learning of the arithmetic concepts of addition. To fulfill the purpose, nine computer programs which had identical instructional content were developed on Apple II computers using SuperPILOT software. Although the programs had identical instructional content, each program had a different reinforcement system. These nine reinforcement systems were the combinations of two factors, reinforcement stimulus and schedule of presentation;The subjects participated in this study were forty-five second-graders. During the experiment, subjects were randomly assigned to one of the nine groups in which each group ran a different computer program. Prior to the experiment, subjects were provided with an identical paper-pencil pretest. At the conclusion of the experiment, subjects were again given a paper-pencil posttest;Differences among treatment group means were tested for statistical significance by two-way analysis of covariance. The results revealed that there were no significant differences among reinforcement conditions. A paired t-test was then used to determine if statistically significant differences between the pretest and the posttest existed. The results showed that subjects performed much better on the posttest than on the pretest. The implications for education are threefold: (1) software designers should emphasize the quality of instructional content rather than entertaining the student; (2) positive reinforcement need not be provided for every correct response; and (3) computer-based learning of this type may be effective in improving student achievement.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Yang Mei-Hsueh Tsai



Proquest ID


File Format


File Size

137 pages