Educational Technology Research and Development

, Volume 61, Issue 5, pp 819–840 | Cite as

A computer-based spatial learning strategy approach that improves reading comprehension and writing

  • Hector R. Ponce
  • Richard E. Mayer
  • Mario J. Lopez
Research Article


This article explores the effectiveness of a computer-based spatial learning strategy approach for improving reading comprehension and writing. In reading comprehension, students received scaffolded practice in translating passages into graphic organizers. In writing, students received scaffolded practice in planning to write by filling in graphic organizers and in translating them into passages. Based on a cluster-randomized sampling process, 2,468 students distributed in 12 schools and 69 classrooms participated in the study. Schools were randomly assigned to the computer-based instruction (CBI) group or traditional instruction (TI) group. Teachers assigned to the CBI treatment integrated the applications into the language arts curriculum during one school semester. A standardized test was used to measure reading comprehension and writing. The data were analyzed through a statistical multilevel model. The findings showed that students in the CBI group improved their reading and writing skills significantly more than students under TI—yielding an effect size d = 0.30.


Computer-based instruction Reading comprehension Writing Learning strategies Multilevel analysis Graphic organizers 



Funding for this study was provided by CONICYT (Comisión Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología) of Chile through FONDEF Projects TE04i1005 and D08i1010. We wish also to thank Nancy Collins for her expert advice on the statistical procedures used in this study.


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Copyright information

© Association for Educational Communications and Technology 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hector R. Ponce
    • 1
  • Richard E. Mayer
    • 2
  • Mario J. Lopez
    • 3
  1. 1.Faculty of Management and EconomicsUniversity of Santiago of ChileSantiagoChile
  2. 2.Department of Psychological and Brain SciencesUniversity of CaliforniaSanta BarbaraUSA
  3. 3.Department of Industrial EngineeringUniversity of Santiago of ChileSantiagoChile

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