CAI — Computer Assisted Instruction

CAI — Computer Assisted Instruction

Computer-assisted instruction (CAI) refers to an interactive form of teaching in which instructional material is presented by computer and the individual’s learning is tracked using a computer. In simple words, CAI is a program of instructional material presented by means of a computer or computer systems.

In some other instances, It is a self-learning technique that is done offline or online, usually with the student interacting with material programmed by the instructor.

Terminology related to CAI

This section combines definitions by Bangert-Drowns, et al. (1985), Batey (1986), Grimes (1977), Samson et al. (1986), and Stennett (1985), which are common definitions (albeit not the only ones) of the terms:

Computer-based education (CBE) and computer-based instruction (CBI) are the broadest terms and can refer to virtually any kind of computer use in educational settings, including drill and practice, tutorials, simulations, instructional management, supplementary exercises, programming, database development, writing using word processors, and other applications. These terms may refer either to stand-alone computer learning activities or to computer activities which reinforce material introduced and taught by teachers.

Computer-assisted/aided instruction (CAI) is a narrower term and most often refers to drill and practice, tutorial, or simulation activities offered either by themselves or as supplements to traditional, teacher directed instruction.

Computer-managed instruction (CMI) can refer either to the use of computers by school staff to organize student data and make instructional decisions or to activities in which the computer evaluates students’ test performance, guides them to appropriate instructional resources, and keeps records of their progress.

Computer-enriched instruction (CEI) is defined as learning activities in which computers (1) generate data at the students’ request to illustrate relationships in models of social or physical reality, (2) execute programs developed by the students, or (3) provide general enrichment in relatively unstructured exercises designed to stimulate and motivate students.

Features of Computer Assisted Instruction

CAI refers to the use of the computer as a tool to facilitate and improve instruction. A CAI program uses a combination of text, graphics, sound, and video to enhance learning by using tutorials, drills, and problems to help present topics and test the student’s understanding. CAI programs have the following features:

  1. Interactive and can illustrate a concept through attractive animation, sound, and demonstration.
  2. Allow students to progress at their own pace and work individually or problem solve in a group.
  3. Provide immediate feedback, letting students know whether their answer is correct. If the answer is not correct, the program shows students how to correctly answer the question.
  4. Offer a different type of activity and a change of pace from teacher-led or group instruction.
  5. Improve instruction for students with disabilities because students receive immediate feedback and do not continue to practice the wrong skills.
  6. Capture the students’ attention because the programs are interactive and engage the students’ spirit of competitiveness to increase their scores.
  7. Move at the students’ own pace and usually do not move ahead until they have mastered the skill.
  8. Provide differentiated lessons to challenge students who are at risk, average or gifted.

Types of Computer Aided Instruction

1. Drill-and-practice Drill and practice provide opportunities or students to repeatedly practice the skills that have previously been presented and that further practice is necessary for mastery.

2. Tutorial Tutorial activity includes both the presentation of information and its extension into different forms of work, including drill and practice, games and simulation.

3. Games Game software often creates a contest to achieve the highest score and either beat others or beat the computer.

4. Simulation Simulation software can provide an approximation of reality that does not require the expense of real life or its risks.

5. Discovery Discovery approach provides a large database of information specific to a course or content area and challenges the learner to analyze, compare, infer and evaluate based on their explorations of the data.

6. Problem Solving This approach helps children develop specific problem solving skills and strategies.

7. Integrated Learning Systems It is composed of two parts, computer-aided instruction modules (also called courseware) and a learning management system. The learning management system is a recent innovation.


  • Bangert-Drowns, R. L.; Kulik, J. A.; and Kulik, C. C. (1985). “Effectiveness of Computer-Based-Education in Secondary Schools.” Journal of Computer-Based Instruction 12/3: 59-68.
  • Batey, A. (1986). Building a Case for Computers in Elementary Classrooms: A Summary of What the Researchers and the Practitioners Are Saying. Paper presented at the Second Leadership in Computer Education Seminar, Seattle, WA.
  • Grimes, D. M. (1977). Computers for Learning: The Uses of Computer Assisted Instruction (CAI) in California Public Schools. Sacramento, CA: California State Department of Education.


Educational Softwares

Instructional Strategies for Teachers

CSCL — Computer Supported Collaborative Learning

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