The purpose of this qualitative study was to examine the integration of computers into a middle school social studies classroom and to examine some strategies for teachers that are interested in instructional computing. The study was not attempting to quantify student learning gains, but rather to examine some methods and potential problems of integrating computers. The study took place at a large suburban middle school located in the Pacific Northwest. The district in which the study took place is moderately affluent and a technology bond was recently passed allowing for technology rich schools. The participants were seventh grade students in global studies and government classes. Data was gathered using a variety of methods including observations, surveys, and taped interviews. In addition a thorough literature review is included. In order to protect the privacy of the participants, pseudonyms have been used. Simulations were used as hands-on applications of the concepts that were being studied in the class. Civilization II (Micropose Software, 1996) was used as the students attempted to conquer the world using a variety of governmental structures to make decisions in the simulation. Caesar II (Sierra On-Line, 1995) was integrated into a unit covering the Romans where students worked in cooperative groups of about six to plan and maintain a city and province in the Roman Empire. These simulations proved to be beneficial to increase student motivation, promote group processing skills, and utilize higher-order thinking skills; however, both of these simulations required a great deal of class time and teacher time to effectively integrate.
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