A Journey Through Technology

Week #4 Reflection

This week was very stressful for me. I felt like after the twitter session that I had a good grasp on writing my literature review, but when I actually sat down to find research and put my thoughts together, I hit a brick wall. It took me a few days, but I was finally able to put my review together and I feel like I found a lot of helpful research that will help me through my research.

I wasn’t as involved in the twitter chat as I would have liked because I was late, but I read through the posts that I missed and learned a lot about how to write my literature review. I really like the twitter sessions because it gives me a chance to see how the others are feeling about his class, and it shows me I’m not alone in this.

I don’t think I contributed significantly to the learning of others this week. I commented on everyone’s literature review and I thought they were all well written, or other issues had already been discussed. It actually feels weird for me to critique my peers, so that is definitely something I need to work on in the future. I think the topics everyone has decided on are very intriguing and I can see many of them helping me in my classroom as well. I received some good advice on my topic, such as using Poll Everywhere in lieu of actual clickers, and I think that is what I’m going to try. Genevieve was encouraging because of her past experience as well.

I’m getting excited to start my project, but I’m terrified of doing my proposal for this week. I always second guess myself when it comes to completing my assignments, so I hope I can get through this without too much stress.

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Week #4 – Literature Review

High school chemistry is known by many students as a hard class. The material covered is often times confusing and can be boring if delivered in a traditional lecture-based style, so it can be easy for students to disengage from instruction. Many teachers are constantly working to change how material is presented in their classrooms so the students become more engaged and take a more active role in learning. Many classes use a traditional lecture-driven model, but there is a lack of evidence that lecture-driven classes should be the only instruction approach used in classrooms (Lumpkin, Achen, & Dodd, 2015). Classroom communication systems, which include the use of clickers, or Audience Response Systems (ARS), are commonly used to break out of the lecture-based teaching style.

Beatty (2004) defines classroom communication systems (CCCs) as “technology products…designed to support communication and interactivity in classes.” Moore (2007), as cited by Devlin (2013), says that learners have “grown accustomed to acquiring information and communicating by utilizing technology-based methods.” Students are rarely seen without some kind of technology in their hand, so why not add that to the normal classroom routine? Multiple research studies have been conducted and have found a strong correlation between the use of an ARS and increase student participation and engagement. (Barnes, 2008; Beatty, 2004; Dunn, Richardson, Oprescu, and McDonald (2012); Gunn, 2014; McNabb, 2009; Micheletto, 2011; Terrion & Aceti, 2012).

One benefit to using clickers as an educational tool is that an active learning environment can be created. An active learning environment allows students to learn from doing activities and working with other students instead of just listening to a teacher lecture. Lumpkin et al. (2015) found that “active, collaborative activities engaged students and positively impacted learning.” Barnes (2008) used both lecture-free and lecture-based methods with four different high school biology classes and found that a majority of students preferred the lecture-free method that utilized an ARS, saying they learned more and had to use their brains more than in the lecture-based method.

However, it is not a simple process to begin using an ARS in the classroom. “Using new technologies in teaching brings with it the risk of mis-using technology or not using technology in a pedagogically effective way” (Chittleborough, 2014). It would be very easy to just start using clickers without carefully planning how to use them effectively. Shirley, Irving, Sanalan, Pape, and Owens (2010) also touch on an important aspect of using connected classroom technology (CCT), and that is how practical it is to use. “Practicality consists of three constructs: congruence with teacher’s values and practice; instrumentality — compatibility with the existing school structures, and cost/benefits — whether the reward is worth the effort” (Shirley et al., 2010) It is possible that implementing a certain technology may not fit well in certain schools or with all teachers. Penuel, Boscardin, Masyn, and Crawford (2006) mention a need for teachers to have adequate training in how to properly use student response systems effectively in the classroom. Most teachers do not have a background in the different technologies available, so extra training would be beneficial before using them in the classroom.

“With the ubiquitous use of computers in society there is an increasing need for computer technology to be integrated into teaching” (Chittleborough, 2014). Utilizing clicker technology is one way of integrating a computer technology into the classroom, and hopefully that integration will increase student engagement and offer students a better active learning environment. “Technology may offer a means to enhance student engagement” (Terrion et al., 2012), so trying to implement an active learning classroom through the use of clickers appears to be an attainable goal.

References

Barnes, L. (2008). Lecture-Free High School Biology Using an Audience Response System. The American Biology Teacher, 70(9), 531-536.

Beatty, I. (2004). Transforming Student Learning with Classroom Communication Systems. EDUCAUSE Center for Applied Research, 2004(3).

Chittleborough, G. (2014). Learning How to Teach Chemistry with Technology: Pre-Service Teachers’ Experiences with Integrating Technology into Their Learning and Teaching. J Sci Teacher Educ Journal of Science Teacher Education, 25, 373-393.

Devlin, T., Feldhaus, C., & Bentrem, K. (2013). The Evolving Classroom: A Study of Traditional and Technology-Based Instruction in a STEM Classroom. Journal of Technology Education, 25(1).

Dunn, P., Richardson, A., Oprescu, F., & Mcdonald, C. (2013). Mobile-phone-based classroom response systems: Students’ perceptions of engagement and learning in a large undergraduate course. International Journal of Mathematical Education in Science and Technology, 44(8), 1160-1174.

Gunn, E. (2014). Using Clickers to Collect Formative Feedback on Teaching: A Tool for Faculty Development. International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 8(1).

Lumpkin, A., Achen, R., & Dodd, R. (2015). Student Perceptions of Active Learning. College Student Journal, 49(1).

McNabb, K. (2009). Use of an Audience Response System to Evaluate and Streamline a General Chemistry Class.

Micheletto, M. (2011). Conducting A Classroom Mini-Experiment Using An Audience Response System: Demonstrating the Isolation Effect. Journal of College Teaching and Learning, 8(8).

Penuel, W., Boscardin, C., Masyn, K., & Crawford, V. (2006). Teaching with student response systems in elementary and secondary education settings: A survey study. Education Tech Research Dev Educational Technology Research and Development, 55, 315-346.

Shirley, M., Irving, K., Sanalan, V., Pape, S., & Owens, D. (2010). The Practicality Of Implementing Connected Classroom Technology In Secondary Mathematics And Science Classrooms. Int J of Sci and Math Educ International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 9, 459-481.

Terrion, J., & Aceti, V. (2012). Perceptions of the effects of clicker technology on student learning and engagement: A study of freshmen Chemistry students. Research in Learning Technology, 20.

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Week 3 Reflection

This week was very eye opening for me. It finally hit me that I’m not as prepared for my project as I thought I was, and now I’m starting to feel very anxious. I think I participated well in the Twitter chat we had on Tuesday, even though I was late (again). I enjoyed reading my classmates’ blogs this week and I think we have a great group together for this class. I look forward to hearing everyone’s feedback, and sharing my own, in the coming weeks as the research slowly starts to come together. This next step, the literature review, is very scary for me. I’m worried I’m going to have a hard time finding enough journal articles that are relevant to my question.

The question I think I want to try and find an answer for is “Can the use of student response devices increase engagement in my students?” I know there is a lot of information out there about clicker use in classrooms, but I really want to focus on studies done in science classrooms, specifically chemistry, if there are enough.

I am feeling very overwhelmed right now, but I am hopeful that by the end of this next week I will be in a better place with my project and will be feeling much better about my progress.

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What will you have to know and do to begin your research?

As I get ready to begin my classroom research, there are a few things I need to know about before I can get started. The first thing I really need to know is the problem that I am trying to solve. “A first principle…of action research is that it focuses on a “problematic situation” in practice.” (Merriam, 2016, p.50) At this point, I feel like my problem is keeping students engaged for the entire class period. At some point during each class, I think every students is engaged in some capacity, but I can tell that it does not last the entire class period for many of them.

I also need to know the question I will be trying to answer with this research. Right now I feel like a good question for me to study is “Will the use of student response devices increase student engagement in my class?” I know this is just my starting point, but it’s okay for this question to change as my research progresses. “In qualitative research it is perfectly okay to make adjustments to your research question as the inquiry develops, but it is critical that you are aware when these adjustments are made and make the appropriate adjustments to your design.” (Chenail, p.1717)

The next thing that I need to do for my research project is to start my literature review. “The literature may be fully reviewed and used to inform the questions actually asked, it may be reviewed late in the process of research, or it may be used solely to help document the importance of the research problem. ” (Creswell, p.50) Since I am performing my literature review at the beginning of the research process, it is likely my research question will change, but “in action research studies, the research design continues to unfold as researcher and participants collect and analyze data and make decisions for the next phase of the study.” (Merriam, 2016, p.50)

 

References

Chenail, R. (2011, November 1). Ten Steps for Conceptualizing and Conducting Qualitative Research Studies in a Pragmatically Curious Manner. The Qualitative Report, 1713-1730.

Creswell, J. (2013). Qualitative inquiry & research design: Choosing among five approaches (3rd ed., p. 50). Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.

Merriam, S., & Merriam, S. (2016). Qualitative research: A guide to design and implementation (4th ed., pp. 22-72). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

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Week 2 Reflection

This week was very educational for me, and it got me thinking a lot more about my role as a teacher. I feel like I am always so focused on teaching content, that sometimes I don’t take the time to find out what my students are actually learning besides giving them a test at the end of each unit. I don’t know why it never occurred to me to talk more often with my students about the material instead of to them, but I feel like that would be a better way of assessing students than just giving them a cumulative test. Students are tested so much these days and I think we might all benefit from other ways of assessing what they are learning in my class. I am very excited to see how my classroom changes as this course progresses.

Through this second week, I feel like I’m getting to know more about my classmates. I am seeing the similarities and differences we have in our classrooms, and the common problems we all seem to have. I hope that the resources I shared in my essential question post will help others, as well as the thoughts I shared with them on their posts.

Right now, I am thinking of researching the impact of using student response devices, or clickers, on student engagement in my class. Right now I feel like I’m having a tough time keeping students tuned in for the whole class period, so I hope that using clickers for the last 5-10 minutes a few days a week will increase their engagement and participation in class.

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How is Qualitative Research a good lens through which to view classroom research?

As a chemistry teacher, I consider myself to be familiar with research.  Merriam defines research as “a systemic process by which we know more about something than we did before engaging in the process.” (Merriam, p.5) So often in science, research is mainly quantitative, or based on numerical data. But as an educator, sometimes numerical data can’t give you the whole picture. In a classroom, it might make sense to turn to qualitative research instead of quantitative research. “Qualitative researchers are interested in understanding how people interpret their experiences, how they construct their worlds, and what meaning the attribute to their experiences.” (Merriam, p.5) If I can learn more about how my students are learning and staying engaged, I feel like that information would be more valuable to me than just what they are learning. Test scores can only tell me if a student understands the test, not necessarily if they understand the material. As I think about my action research project, the idea of focusing on more than just numerical data makes sense because it can give me a better overall picture of how my students are actually learning.

“Qualitative research is an exploratory approach emphasizing words rather than quantification in gathering and analyzing the data.” (Devetak, p.78) When I work with students in my classes, words are used more than anything else to convey knowledge. I give my students notes by talking with them and showing them projected slides with important information. If I spend so much time talking to and with my students, it make sense that my research should be based on words more than numbers. The qualitative approach will allow me to talk one-on-one with students and learn more about who they are and how they learn, instead of just focusing on the class as a whole.

Another reason that qualitative research is a good choice for classroom research is “…these studies typically involve small numbers of participants…” (Coll, p.19) Classrooms typically contain small sample groups for research. Right now, my largest class has 24 students in it. If I were to try and collect numerical data, a sample size of 24 wouldn’t really be enough to show anything conclusive. “Qualitative studies typically use resource intensive data gathering techniques such as interviews. These studies are useful in that they allow researches to study issues of interest in great depth…” (Coll, p.19) If I can focus on qualitative data like interviews or observations, I will have data that is more in depth, and hopefully more meaningful, than just a set of numbers.

References:

Merriam, S. (2009). What is Qualitative Research. In Qualitative research: A guide to design and implementation. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Devetak, I., Glazar, S., & Vogrinc, J. (2009). The Role of Qualitative Research in Science Education. Eurasia Journal of Mathematics, Science & Technology Education, 6(1), 77-84. Retrieved September 9, 2015, from http://www.ejmste.com/v6n1/eurasia_v6n1_devetak.pdf

Coll, R., Dalgety, J., & Salter, D. (2002). The Development Of The Chemistry Attitudes And Experiences Questionnaire (Caeq). Chem. Educ. Res. Pract., 3(1), 19-32. Retrieved September 9, 2015, from http://www.uoi.gr/cerp/2002_February/pdf/04Coll.pdf

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Week 1 Reflection

I always love the first week of classes, whether I’m the teacher or the student, and this week was no different. The resources that I used this week and some of the extra research I’ve done online is making me excited for where this course is taking me. I’ve wanted to implement technology in my classroom for the last few years, and now I have the perfect push to get me started. I think I’m going to try to introduce clickers to my classroom, which will hopefully help my students perform better, and help me become a more reflective teacher. There have been many teachers before me who have made this change, and some that are also chemistry teachers, so I’m excited to look at their work and get some more ideas for my action research project.

Just by reading the resources for this week, I’m already more at ease about making this transition. It’s always scary trying something new, but I think using action research to implement this change is going to make this a less daunting adventure. There are still things I’m unsure of, but I know that as long as I put the time in, I should be successful.

I think we have a great group of people taking this class this semester and I’m excited to follow their journey’s through the action research process. There are some great ideas in the group for types of technology to implement, and I think if we support each other we can all get so much out of this class. I love reading everyone’s blog posts and seeing all of the different resources that are being used. I hope I am able to contribute some meaningful resources to the group and that we all have a great 14 weeks together!

How have I contributed to others’ learning.

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What is classroom research and how can it improve technology integration in my classroom?

As educators, we take part in classroom research every time we change a lesson plan or reteach a topic to our classes. We realize there is something that needs to be changed, and we fix it. This fall marks my 6th year of teaching and I can gladly say that every year I have made an effort to be better than the year before. “Action research is a term which refers to a practical way of looking at your own work to check that it is as you would like it to be.” (McNiff, 2002, p.6) I cannot imagine going into each school year not wanting to change anything about how I teach. I think after just a few years I would burn out and be so bored teaching the same thing, the same way, every year. I want to know that I’m doing everything I can to help my students learn as much as possible, but also make it fun and engaging for them. I am constantly questioning my techniques for delivering different topics, and am always looking for multiple ways to teach the same thing. “Action research can help answer questions you have about the effectiveness of specific instructional strategies, the performance of specific students, and classroom management techniques.” (Kolk)

I am always looking for the next best thing to get my students more engaged in my classroom, and I think integrating more technology is the next step for me. “The skill and interest level in technology, as well as access to handhelds, laptops, and tablet computers, means students can — and want to — use technology.” (Jackson) Students want to use technology in the classroom. We, as teachers, need to figure out how to use technology to get our students engaged and help them learn. The chemistry classroom has many opportunities for technology integration. “Cell phones, liquid-crystal displays and projectors, wireless Internet access, interactive white boards, graphing calculators, laptop computers, and other evolving technologies are among the devices available in the chemistry classroom. These tools greatly enhance student-centered instruction.” (ACS, p. 11)

I think action research provides an excellent opportunity to try new technologies because it is “…a cycle of inquiry and reflection.” (Kolk) If my idea doesn’t work the first time, I can go back, change things around, and try again.

References:

McNiff, J. (2002). Action research for professional development: Concise advice for new action researchers (Third ed.). Poole: September Books.

Kolk, M. (n.d.). Embrace Action Research. Retrieved September 4, 2015.

Jackson, L. (2012, March 5). Integrating Tech in High School. Retrieved September 4, 2015.

American Chemical Society (2012). ACS Guidelines and Recommendations for the Teaching of High School Chemistry (pp. 11-12). Washington, DC: American Chemical Society.

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