After the analysis of student course evaluations at Green Valley Community College had demonstrated an unfortunate trend and a slight increase in dropout rates has been observed, the college president decided to integrate technology into classrooms and to create alternatives to lecturing for the purpose of improving the students’ motivation.
Using quantitative data-collection procedures, the current research measures use of technology in class, changes in teaching practices and corresponding shifts in learners’ attitudes and academic achievements for determining the effectiveness of training and defining the most effective programs.
Explaining an unfortunate trend of increase in students’ dropouts with the lack of learners’ engagement into the teaching-learning process, the college president initiated workshops for educators aimed at improving their teaching skills and integrating computer technologies into the curriculum. Modification of the lesson plans was expected to have impact on students’ motivation and learning achievements.
Thus, the target population of the survey would include the teachers and their students. Emphasis should be put on engagement of wider audience into the research process including various categories of college community, without giving preference to particular subgroups.
It is important to analyze the results achieved by teachers and learners with different level of preparation for evaluating the impact of creating alternatives to lecturing more critically.
Before the beginning of the investigation process, the research team has to receive permissions for intervening into the teaching-learning process and get an approval of one’s project from the research committee. A brief summary of the research plan should explain the impact of the survey on the following research process.
Walpole & McKenna (2004) noted that “a decision has to be made about the ideal time and place for professional development and collaboration” (p. 88). The issues of time and location for conducting a survey need to be covered in a proposal. All people related to the classroom under analysis should be informed on the research and changes in the curriculum.
The types of quantitative information that would be helpful for evaluating the effectiveness of the imposed measures include the results of students’ standardized tests and statistics data as to the rate of students’ dropouts after the beginning of the experiment.
Comparing this data with the corresponding figures during the pre-experiment period, the research team would be able to estimate the impact of integration of technology into the classroom on the learners’ engagement and achievements.
It is preferable to locate the existing instruments for measuring the learners’ achievements, deciding on the same tests that were used in college programs previously. Lodico, Spaulding & Voegtle (2010) noted that “even the most reliable test would not produce the exact same score for an individual over repeated testing” (p. 61).
Developing a new instrument would mean increasing the measurement error, for this reason, the research team should use the tests from the pre-experiment period.
The main criteria for choosing an instrument are the reliability and validity of the achieved results. As to the reliability of the collected data, the standardized tests evaluating learners’ academic achievements can show the same results for an individual if the test is repeated. Due to the fact that the purpose of the program was to improve students’ academic achievements, the standardized test ensure the validity of the research results.
Appropriate measures need to be imposed for standardization and ethical practices of the experiment. The standardization of the research results can be reached on the condition of involvement of wider target audience.
Lodico, Spaulding & Voegtle (2010) noted that “Pilot samples in instrument development are usually large populations, which allow for the greatest degree of generalizability” (p. 75). For this reason, it is important to involve into the research process as many participants as possible, ensuring that not only top or underachieving teachers and groups participate in the survey.
As to the ethical practices of the experiment, making participation voluntary and creating the participants’ awareness of the research process, goals and possible impact would increase the accuracy of the achieved results. Creswell (2003) noted that it is important to inform the participants on “the procedures of the study, so that individuals can reasonably expect what to anticipate in the research” (p. 64).
Dealing with the concept of the students’ motivation and engagement, inducing learners to participate in the survey is inadmissible. Integrating technology into education programs is expected to encourage students’ engagement without any additional measures.
Measuring students’ academic achievements and comparing the results to the test scores of the pre-experiment period, current study is aimed at evaluating the effectiveness of technology integration into the college curriculum.
Pitler, Hubbell & Kuhn (2007) noted that “Although PowerPoint presentations and movies are great teaching aids and lead to higher levels of student engagement, the most engaging learning comes from having the student create the presentation or movie themselves as a part of the learning process” (p. 104). The purpose of this study is to support this promising hypothesis with the analysis of the results of quantitative measurements.
Creswell, J.W. (2003). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed method approaches. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.
Lodico, M., Spaulding, D. T., & Voegtle, K. H. (2010). Methods in educational research: From theory to practice. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons.
Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., & Kuhn, M. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Denver, CO: Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning.
Walpole, S., McKenna, M.C. (2004).The literacy coach’s handbook: A guide to research-based practice. New York, NY: Guilford Press.