Graduate Research Papers


Open Access Graduate Research Paper


Language arts (Elementary); Teaching--Aids and devices;


The purpose of this research was to test the effectiveness of the computer program, ClassWorks Gold (CW) in improving student reading and writing scores. ClassWorks Gold is a computer program that merges parts of 150 commercially available language arts program with a built-in assessment and internal e-mail system.

Garfield Elementary School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, received a grant from the Iowa Department of Education for the purchase and implementation of CW as a supplement to regular language arts classroom instruction. The grant required action research for an assessment. This paper focuses on the effectiveness of CW with two third grade classes in one school year.

All third grade students were given the same computer ClassWorks pretest. Students began at level one and continued through the automated test until they missed three questions. The score was recorded and students began at the last level they
successfully passed.

Students then spent 45 minutes twice a week for 28 weeks interacting with the ClassWorks software. ClassWorks individualized instruction in a variety of language arts concepts. A concept was presented, defined, and examples given. Students then completed a series of lessons and given a quiz. Passage of the quiz at 80% allowed students to move on to the next concept. A score of less than 80% placed the student in remediation with further examples and lessons followed by another quiz.

The computer program recorded the time students spent on each sub-section of the unit and any quiz scores. Teachers, however, had to record the scores for the projects. These scores were recorded in C/assWorks assessment program. The same placement test administered as a pretest was given as a posttest to determine academic progress.

In October students were also given the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills. The same test was administered again in May to assess academic growth. This is a norm-referenced test. While these two tests do not evaluate in the same manner, the results of both were used to compare the overall academic progress of the students in the area of language arts.

A comparison of growth between the pre and posttests was done to determine the effectiveness of the CW program.

Hypothesis 1 predicted that this group of students would make six months academic growth over the established baseline of previous Garfield third graders who were taught with traditional methods of instruction as evidenced by both the !TBS and
ClassWorks Gold GLE evaluation. Findings showed hypothesis 1 was nil. Students using ClassWorks made three months growth over one previous class and ten months growth over another previous class above the baseline average on ITBS Tests. However, spring data were lacking from a third year for comparison. There is not sufficient data for a concrete comparison. No baseline average was available for ClassWorks since this was the initial implementation.

Hypothesis 2: Student academic progress would have a significant positive correlation to time on task. Students who spend more time in ClassWorks will show greater academic growth than those that spent less time on task. There will be an uneven amount of growth when comparing student to student; since the population is made up of delayed, average, and proficient students. Time on task was monitored by the internal assessment management system (AMS) within ClassWorks. Findings show hypothesis 2
was accepted. Those students who did not make improvement on ClassWorks appeared to rush through the tests, made many guesses, or used the Don 't Know option many times. Those students who spent more time on task did do better on the tests.

Hypothesis 3: Weekly teacher evaluation of student progress is directly related to student achievement. Therefore, those teachers who weekly monitor the quizzes and projects within the ClassWorks system, and enhance or remediate the language arts concepts with direct classroom instruction will have students who show greater academic growth. Findings for hypothesis 3 were inconclusive. Students who were identified by ClassWorks as needing remediation in specific skills were not given remediation of those specifically identified skills. Remediation was done as it related to the district language arts curriculum. Hypothesis three can neither be accepted nor rejected.

In this study the lack of alignment between the ClassWorks skills in need of remediation and the district language arts curriculum skills actually taught and remediated in the classroom makes it impossible to determine how effective the role of
the teacher was in this computer-aided instruction. CAI instruction is generally too costly and time consuming to be used merely as a skill building tool. Remediation is a critical piece in which the teacher must take an active role. Teachers need time to plan if they are delving deeply into this integration; or the software program needs to be aligned with the
curriculum before it is purchased.

Students became bored with the program as evidenced by verbal comments, an increase in the number of Don 't Know test responses, the shortened time students spent working on assessments, and the lack of quality in student projects.

ClassWorks provides a different kind of test data than Iowa Test of Basic Skills. ClassWorks is not a standardized normed test. Without further research it is impossible to tell if the ClassWorks program was responsible for the increased in ITBS scores.

Clearly, there is room for more study. There are opponents and proponents of CAI instruction in the classroom and as many strategies for effective presentation there are supporters or naysayers. Certainly higher-order thinking skills and multi-media methods must be involved to keep CAI out of the ancient educational realm of skill and drill.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Department of Curriculum and Instruction


Division of School Library Studies

First Advisor

Barbara R. Safford


If you are the rightful copyright holder of this graduate research paper and wish to have it removed from the Open Access Collection, please submit an email request to Include your name and clearly identify the thesis by full title and author as shown on the work.

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (vii, 169 pages)



File Format