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Students in a graduate class and an undergraduate class in Information Systems completed a Web-based programmed instruction tutor that taught a simple Java applet as the first technical training exercise in a computer programming course. The tutor is a competency-based instructional system for individualized distance learning. When a student completes the tutor, the student has achieved a targeted level of understanding the code and has written the code correctly from memory. Before and after using the tutor in the present study, students completed a software self-efficacy questionnaire and a test of the application of general Java principles (far transfer of learning). After completing the tutor, students in both classes showed increases in software self-efficacy and in correct answers on the test of general principles. These findings contribute to the stream of formative evaluations of the tutoring system. They show the capacity of the Web-based tutor to generate meaningful learning (i.e., understanding of concepts) at the level of the individual student.
This article presents a continuation of a series of formative evaluations to assess and to enhance the instructional effectiveness of an automated and individualized distance learning system that is intended to assist Information Systems students in beginning their study of Java[TM]. We previously reported our progress in the development of this tutoring system, which teaches a simple Java applet, and its application as the first technical training exercise for students in a computer programming course (Emurian, 2004; Emurian & Durham, 2001, 2002; Emurian, Hu, Wang, & Durham, 2000). The purpose of the tutor is to provide each and every student with a documented and identical level of elementary knowledge and skill. The tutoring system has been demonstrably effective in promoting technical skill and in cultivating self-confidence in beginning students by giving them a successful learning experience that motivates their further study of Java using textbooks, lectures, laboratory demonstrations, independent problem solving, and the like. The tutoring system is targeted to Information Systems majors, whose primary interests may lie in systems analysis and design, database, decision support systems, knowledge management, and information resource management, but who would benefit from acquiring elementary skill in an object-oriented programming language such as Java. 2b1af7f3a8