As I’ve shared earlier, I’m doing my own experiment this school year on the role of technology in student achievement. I’m teaching one U.S. History class for Intermediate English Language Learners entirely in the computer lab, and teaching another U.S. History class, also for Intermediate ELL’s, in a regular classroom using what is (in my eyes, at least) my engaging usual non-technology based instructional materials and instructional strategies. The second class only goes to the computer lab once or twice each month.
I wanted to explore what, if any, “value-added” benefit technology might offer towards increased student achievement.
This is a year-long effort, and I’ll be writing more extensively about it in the summer. But the first semester results are in and I thought I’d provide a very brief summary.
Both classes are taught by Holly Coyle, my student teacher, and me.The computer-based class uses, to a large extent (though not exclusively) our United States History blog as a key vehicle in which to cover California standards. It supplements the textbook that is also used by both classes.
Both classes were given the same two assessments — one computer-based and the other paper-based (omitting a few non-history questions found on the paper assessment) — during the first week of school and right before Christmas. In addition, both classes were given a reflection/evalution to complete before Christmas, too.
In the two basic knowledge assessments that have been given twice, the computer-based class scored somewhat higher in the computer-based assessment, and the non-technology-based class scored substantially higher in the paper test.
There were many similarities in the anonymous responses provided in the reflection/evaluation students completed right before Christmas. There were, in addition, a few items that stood out:
* A substantially higher proportion of students in the computer-based class said, in response to the question, “Did you like this class?” said it was either “great” or “good.”
* A higher proportion of students in the computer class, in response to the question ” Did you learn a lot about U.S. History in this class?” said either “Yes, a whole lot” or “Yes, a good amount” than the non-tech class.
* Not that many students in the non-tech class gave “lower” responses to the questions, but some did. Hardly anyone in the computer-based class marked the two lowest-ranked responses to any of the questions.
I’m not prepared to interpret the results right now, and I’ll be continuing with similar assessments. I’d certainly be interested, however, in hearing any reactions to what I’ve shared so far…
I think your initial data points to the “engagement factor” that seems to come for some kids when you inject technology into the mix. Now, as to whether that increased engagement leads to increased knowledge and, as important, retention of information remains to be seen, I think.
For my part, I keep hoping to see some indicators that the use of technology is changing the way kids are writing, but nothing has convinced me of this quite yet.