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Multimedia computer learning: An examination of gender differences in computer learning behaviors at the elementary grade level

, University of California, Irvine, United States

University of California, Irvine . Awarded


This research investigated gender related differences in the behaviors of 76 students (38 females and 40 males), in grades 4 and 5, while they worked in same or mixed sex pairs, over 6 weeks with university student tutors on constructivist multimedia computer learning activities. The study employed a non experimental observational research design that employed quantitative methods in the collection and analyses of 410 coded observations, and qualitative data (i.e., observer comments, journal entries, and online discussion forum transcripts), that were used to explain the quantitative findings. Trained observers recorded frequencies data for 24 behavior measures organized in six behavior categories: Verbal-Linguistic, Visual-Spatial, Logical-Mathematical, Bodily-Kinesthetic, Interpersonal and Intrapersonal. The primary hypotheses were that (1) there would be significant gender related differences in students' behaviors in multimedia computer learning activities, but that (2) there would not be significant overall differences favoring one gender in this type of complex learning activity.

Unexpectedly, females were found to be significantly more active than males in several measures. There were significant or nearly significant differences for behaviors (1) favoring females: Listens (p = .056, .042), Reads (p = .008, .006), Writes (p = .025, .002), Uses color, line, texture (p = .021), Controls mouse or keyboard (p = .010, .004), Points gestures (p = .053, .010), Assertive (p = .026, .015), and Motivated (p = .067), and (2) favoring males: Chooses graphics (p = .081), and Moves graphics (p = .027, .061). There were effects of gender pairing in addition to effects of gender in the following categories: Listens (p = .055), Reads (p = .032), Motivated (p = .009), and Unmotivated (p = .045), suggesting that when the partner was the same sex, frequency of behavior increased. The first three of these four patterns favored female gender pairs. The data suggest that multimedia computer learning activities may encourage female participation in computer usage with the same or even greater frequency as with males. These findings have implications for planning equitable uses of computers in elementary schools.


Burge, K. Multimedia computer learning: An examination of gender differences in computer learning behaviors at the elementary grade level. Ph.D. thesis, University of California, Irvine. Retrieved June 18, 2019 from .

This record was imported from ProQuest on October 23, 2013. [Original Record]

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