sealPurdue Science Briefs
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May 1998

Purdue software makes Internet more teacher-friendly

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- A new educational software program developed at Purdue University is making it easier than ever for teachers to put the power of the Internet to work in their classrooms.

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Test Pilot is a new application that allows teachers to design surveys, tests and tutorials that students can take on any computer that is connected to the Internet.

"It really opens up the use of computers for instruction," says Test Pilot author Malcolm Duncan, the associate director of Purdue's BioMedia Center of Instructional Computing. "The program not only generates the test or tutorial, it also grades it so students can get immediate feedback as to how they did. And Test Pilot's combination of simplicity and affordability make it unique among the educational software currently available."

On-line instruction is not new, but the teachers using it have had to be able to create a Web page and then write a program to handle the data, or pay an experienced webmaster to do it for them. Test Pilot Test runs on both Macintosh and PC systems and may require a webmaster for a one-time installation on a school's Web server, but after that even the most computer-phobic teacher can begin creating tests.

"Once the data base portion of the program is installed, instructors use simple pull-down menus and forms to write questions and set the format," Duncan explains. "The software also allows for the import of graphics and video and audio snippets, so it can be used for virtually any discipline or subject."

Duncan says the most common use so far is for the creation of tutorials, which give teachers a way to track how well students are grasping material before actually testing them on it. And because the tutorial is on the Web, students can take it from their homes, or a library -- virtually anyplace that has a computer with Internet access.

More than 350 universities and companies from all over the world were involved in the testing of the software, and now there is a growing demand from corporations interested in using it for industrial, managerial and clerical training. Duncan says the program also could be used for polling over the Internet.

Test Pilot costs $120 for educational institutions and $495 for businesses. Some Web servers may require a server extension to run the program, which costs an additional $50 or $195, depending on the type of customer. A demonstration of the software can be found at http://biomedia.bio.purdue.edu/TestPilot/ .

CONTACT: Duncan, (765) 494-6610; e-mail, wmd@purdue.edu; Web, http://biomedia.bio.purdue.edu/

Study finds boy bullies popular; girl bullies not

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: Copies of the article in the journal Applied Developmental Science are available from Beth Forbes at Purdue News Service, (765) 494-9723; e-mail, beth_forbes@purdue.edu

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- A study by a Purdue University expert on child development shows that boys who are bullies are not only accepted, but they can actually be among the more popular youngsters in school.

"But woe to the girl who is overly aggressive," says Laura Hess, assistant professor of child development and family studies. "Our research shows that girls who are disruptive and aggressive are at a much greater risk of being rejected by their peers than are their male counterparts."

In a study of third- through fifth-graders at two urban schools, Hess also found the line between who was a bully and who was a victim was not always clear. "A significant number of children who are aggressive may also be victimized by their peers," she says.

"Often these children are picked on by the other kids, and out of frustration, they lash out at others through very aggressive means. These children were the least well-liked, regardless of gender."

Hess' study, published in the April issue of the journal Applied Developmental Science, was conducted with Marc Atkins at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

The researchers asked teachers to rate the behavior of children in the classrooms and to make judgments about their social status and acceptance. Students were asked to similarly rate their peers and to list their own perceived social acceptance and self-competence.

"The children we classified as 'controls' were the most popular. They were well liked by teachers and students and were not overly aggressive nor were they typically victims. Boys in this group were slightly more popular than girls," Hess says.

Following closely on the heels of the popular girls were the boy bullies, who were only slightly less popular among peers. "Aggression is much more well-accepted in boys than it is in girls. The only students that girl bullies were more popular than were the children that nobody seemed to like -- the 'aggressive victims,'" Hess says.

Boys who were "aggressive victims" were the least-liked children in school, and they knew it. "These boys rated themselves very low in social acceptance and self-worth," she says. Hess says that victim status for a boy -- just like bully status for a girl -- is a very unpopular label.

Her findings suggest that even children buy into -- and prefer -- traditional gender roles. She says passivity is a traditionally female trait and much more socially accepted in females than in males. On the other hand, aggression is associated with males, and less accepted in females.

Aggression often takes different forms based on gender. "Girls are more likely to display indirect aggression. Rather than physically fight with their peers, aggressive girls have a tendency to exhibit social control," Hess says. They are more likely to fight a war of words and victimize others through manipulation rather than by physical means.

Hess suggests that administrators and teachers need to focus on ridding school environments of all forms of aggression. "In order to prevent kids from being victimized at school, we need to promote the idea that any form of aggression by any student -- regardless of gender or social status -- is unacceptable," she says.

Hess says efforts that might curb aggressive behavior include education, videos, posters and rewards for good behavior.

Compiled by Susan Gaidos, (765) 494-2081; e-mail, susan_gaidos@purdue.edu
Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; e-mail, purduenews@purdue.edu

PHOTO CAPTION:
Program author Malcolm Duncan demonstrates Test Pilot on the computers in Purdue's BioMedia Center for Instructional Computing. The software allows teachers to design tests and tutorials that students can take on any computer that is connected to the Internet. (Purdue News Service photo by David Umberger)
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