maricopa center for learning & instruction
Negative Reinforcement University

w h y

We had invested a lot of people's time and energy in developing the technology of NRU, but such projects rightfully begs the questions, "Does it promote learning? How can we measure the impact?"

Thus, in 1998 Karen McNally, a doctoral intern in our office, developed a comprehensive technology evaluation, with the support of two psychology instructors at Scottsdale Community College. Results are tentative at this time, but presented below. We await another round of evaluation to gather an appropriate study size.

h o w

Both instructors agreed to present Introductory Psychology students the extra credit opportunity to participate in our project. They would have already heard a lecture in class that covered Negative Reinforcement. Student volunteers were randomly assigned to three different groups.

One group used the computer CD-ROM version of NRU and then took a paper post-test. A second group used the written version of NRU and took the same post-test. The content and it's structure for these two groups was identical. The third (control) group took the post-test without any additional content. All participants completed a basic survey to collect demographic data.

d a t a

Preliminary data is presented below. In general, we found significant differences between the computer group and the test-only group. There was some significance in scores for the test scores of the group that used the computer of NRU as compared to the group that used the paper version. Our observations were surprised about the general lack of familiarity with computers for this group of students from a middle to upper-class socio-economic area.

Mean Scores (N=47):
    Control   Written  Computer
    -------   -------  --------
     16.80     21.31    23.81

Mean time to complete: (hr:min)        
              Written  Computer
              -------  --------
               50:11     40:26


Gender:       Male     Female 
               ----     ------       
                16        31

Age:   18-22   23-30   31-40   41-50   50+
        ----   -----   -----   -----   ---
         36      6       5       0      0 

Computer   0-7   8-14  15-21   22-28   28+
Usage -   ----   ---   -----   -----   ---
Hours/     31     12     2       0      2

Computer       Yes        No
Games?         ----       ---
                 37         0

m o r e

You can return to the NRU information page, as well as see the paper version, or view the post-test.