||Conditions for Effective Use of Interactive On-line Learning Objects: The case of a fractions computer-based learning sequence
||Catherine D. BRUCE and John ROSS
Students are challenged when learning fractions and problems often persist into adulthood. Teachers may find it difficult to remediate student misconceptions in the busy classroom, particularly when the concept is as challenging as fractions has proven to be. We theorized that a technology-based learning resource could provide the sequencing and scaffolding teachers might have difficulty providing. A development team of teachers, researchers and educational software programmers designed five sets of fractions activities in the form of learning objects, called CLIPS. As part of a larger mixed-methods study, 36 observations as well as interviews were conducted in four classrooms, grades 7-10. Four students were selected by their teachers for CLIPS use from each of these four classrooms because the students were experiencing difficulty with fractions concepts. CLIPS use contributed to student achievement, provided the conditions enabled an effective learning environment and students experienced the full sequence of tasks in the CLIPS. In this article we describe the conditions that enabled student success. Three interacting contexts affected successful use of CLIPS: technological contexts (such as access to computers with audio), teaching contexts (such as introductory activities that prepared students for the CLIPS activities) and student contexts (such as the level of student confidence and opportunities to communicate to a peer). The study illustrates how a research-based set of learning objects can be effective and provides guidelines to consider when using learning objects to enhance mathematics programs.