Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Special Education and Rehabilitation Counseling

Department name when degree awarded

Special Education

Committee Chair(s)

Joseph M. Ferrara


Joseph M. Ferrara


Alan Hofmeister


Ron Thorkildsen


Margaret Dyreson


Hyrum Henderson


Many learning disabled student being served by the public school systems have been inaccurately classified. Training and research efforts are needed to assist members of the multidisciplinary team in making more accurate learning disabilities classification decisions.

CLASS.LD2, a computer-based expert system, was designed to assist multidisciplinary teams by providing second-opinion advice regarding the appropriateness of a learning disabilities classification for individual student cases. The existing expert system, CLASS.LD2, was combined with strategies for effective concept instruction to create an instructional package entitled LO.Trainer.

The purpose of this study was (a) to develop a computer-based instructional package combining expert system technology and strategies for effective concept instruction and (b) to test the effectiveness of the instructional package against another system application. The training application against which the instructional package was compared consisted of users running consultations with the original expert system.

Of specific interest was (a) the effectiveness of both training programs across experienced and inexperienced teachers, (b) the performance of the experienced as compared with the inexperienced teachers regardless of the training program used, (c) whether an interaction between level of experience and training program occurred, ( d) which training program was more effective for the experienced teachers, and (e) which training program was more effective for the inexperienced teachers.

Ninety-seven students from three universities served as subjects and were randomly assigned to one of the two treatment groups. Subjects who completed the LO.Trainer materials scored statistically (p < .05) and educationally higher (SMD = + 0.96) on the posttest than those who ran CLASS.LD2 consultations. Statistical and educational significance were al so obtained across the experienced and inexperienced subjects when considered alone. An interaction, although not statistically significant (p < .05), was obtained between group and experience level.

Although there exist many similarities between the processes of building expert systems and concept analysis, incorporating both to develop an effective training tool had not previously been demonstrated. Results of this study indicated that the two fields, successfully combined, can create an effective and efficient training tool.



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