The effects of calculator -based laboratories on standardized test scores

Charlotte Bethany Rains Stevens, Tennessee State University


Nationwide, the goal of providing a productive science and math education to our youth in today's educational institutions is centering itself around the technology being utilized in these classrooms. In this age of digital technology, educational software and calculator-based laboratories (CBL) have become significant devices in the teaching of science and math for many states across the United States. Among the technology, the Texas Instruments graphing calculator and Vernier Labpro interface, are among some of the calculator-based laboratories becoming increasingly popular among middle and high school science and math teachers in many school districts across this country. In Tennessee, however, it is reported that this type of technology is not regularly utilized at the student level in most high school science classrooms, especially in the area of Physical Science (Vernier, 2006). This research explored the effect of calculator based laboratory instruction on standardized test scores. The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of traditional teaching methods versus graphing calculator teaching methods on the state mandated End-of-Course (EOC) Physical Science exam based on ability, gender, and ethnicity. The sample included 187 total tenth and eleventh grade physical science students, 101 of which belonged to a control group and 87 of which belonged to the experimental group. Physical Science End-of-Course scores obtained from the Tennessee Department of Education during the spring of 2005 and the spring of 2006 were used to examine the hypotheses. The findings of this research study suggested the type of teaching method, traditional or calculator based, did not have an effect on standardized test scores. However, the students’ ability level, as demonstrated on the End-of-Course test, had a significant effect on End-of-Course test scores. This study focused on a limited population of high school physical science students in the middle Tennessee Putnam County area. The study should be reproduced in various school districts in the state of Tennessee to compare the findings.

Subject Area

Educational evaluation|Secondary education|Educational software|Science education

Recommended Citation

Charlotte Bethany Rains Stevens, "The effects of calculator -based laboratories on standardized test scores" (2007). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI3243903.