Modern technology in education.

I have chosen to write the remainder of my weekly blogs concentrating on the subject of the effects that modern technology has on education. I have based this decision on the notion that many researchers have and continue to conduct studies into this field and it is therefore constantly evolving. There is currently a vast amount of evidence supporting the use of modern technology whilst there is an equal amount of evidence in order to suggest that traditional methods are more beneficial. During the remainder of the semester I will discuss the argument for and against the use of modern technology before drawing to my own conclusion at the end of the term.

Previously I have stated that I sit on the fence when it comes to this argument! Whilst i think that traditional styles of teaching such as learning to read a book and write a formal letter are important and essential to our lives regardless of all the technology we have at our finger tips, I also realise that learning to write an e-mail and use a computer are also absolutely essential. 

Researchers (Bransford, Brown & Cocking, 2000; Roschelle, Pea, Hoadley, Gordin & Means, 2000) proposed that a number of features of new technologies hold promise for improving education by suggesting that new information and communication technologies (ICT) can provide an exciting teaching method based on real-life problems inside the classroom and provide tools in order to enhance children’s’ learning. They argued that modern ICT enables students to receive feedback on their performance, test and reflect on their ideas and revise their understanding. Brill & Galloway (2007) also found that the use of technology in the classroom had a positive influence on both teaching and learning. 

However a research conducted by Wenglinski (1998) found a negative relationship between the frequent use of school computers and school achievement that the children achieved. However it must be noted that they did find that certain uses of technology did have a positive effect on achievement. For example, they found that the use of computer games developed a positive rise in math achievement in fourth grade students.

Shad (2001) argued that there are much higher cognitive benefits associated with handwriting in comparison to typing. Bounds (2010) suggested that this is due to actively learning the letters, the letter shapes, idea composition, expression of that idea and developing fine motor skills. Beringer (2009) found that children with and without handwriting disability were able to write significantly more in a shorter amount of time when using a pen rather than typing on a keyboard thus demonstrating that handwriting should not be scrapped in favour of typing at schools. 

Due to the rise in computer use and typing at schools triggering a slight degeneration of traditional teaching and learning methods such as reading and writing Leising (2003) claimed that primary school teachers worry that children are recently having difficulties in writing simple words such as ‘thank you’ therefore this motivates me to further investigate this particular subject. As I have stated previously, there are many reasons for and against the use of technology in the classroom however I am curious to find out which method provides children and students with the most academic profit.  

References: 

Beringer, V. (2009, October 20) For kids, pen’s mightier than keyboard. futurity.org. Retrieved February 25th 2013 from http://www.futurity.org/society-culture/for-kids-pens-mightier-than-keyboard/#more-4909.

Bounds, G. ( 2010, October 5) How handwriting trains the brain – forming letters is key to learning, memory, idea. wsj.com. Retrieved February 25th 2013 from http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704631504575531932754922518.html

Bransford, J., Brown, A., & Cocking, R. (2000). How people learn: Brain, mind, experience, and school. Washington, DC: National Academic Press.

Brill, J. M., & Galloway, C. (2007). Perils and promises: University instructors’ integration of technology in classroom-based practices. British Journal of Educational Technology. 38(1), 95-105. 

Leising, J. (2013 January 30) The new script for teaching handwriting is no script at all. wsj.com Retrieved February 25th 2013 from http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323644904578272151551627948.html?KEYWORDS=handwriting

Roschelle, J., Pea, R., Hoadley, C., Gordin, D., & Means, B. (2000). Future of children, 10(2), 76-101.

Shah (2011, July 16) Why does writing make us smart ? huffingpost.com. Retrieved February 25th 2013 from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/16/why-does-writing-make-us-_n_900638.html

Wenglinski, H. (1998). Does it compute? The relationship between educational technology and student achievement in mathematics. Princeton, NJ: ETS.

Parental involvement.

This week I have decided to discuss the topic of whether students and pupils benefit from parental involvement in education or should parents take more of a back seat when it comes to their children’s academic environment. It seems to just make sense that when parents play an active role in their children’s education there will be beneficial outcomes. 

Sacker et al (2002) examined the data from the National Child Development Study. Researchers followed 98% of all births in England, Scotland and Wales that occurred in the week that began on the 3rd of March in 1958. Furthermore 17,400 of the newborn babies were followed up when they were at the ages of 7, 11, 16, 23 and 33 years. They found that there was a significant relationship between parental involvement and positive effects on the child’s academic achievements. 

Sui-Chu and Wilms (1996) also argued that parental involvement correlated with positive academic outcomes. They conducted a study called The US National Educational Longitudinal Study (NELS) that was based on a sample of 24,6000 14 year old pupils from a sample that was drawn from 1500 different schools across the USA. Moreover they also went on to suggest that there was a connection between the pupils’ socio-economic status and the amount of parental involvement that they experienced. They claimed that lower class families were much less likely to be involved with their children’s education whereas higher class families would take more of an interest.

Sui-Chu and Wilms concluded that parental involvement made a significant contribution to children’s academic achievements based on the association they found in their study between the amount of discussion that took place between children and parents and a higher level of achievement. 

Nechyba et al (1999) summarised three possible assumptions in order to provide an explanation for the association between socio-economic class and the higher tendency for parents to be more involved with the children’s education. They argued that:

1. Working class culture places less value on education.

2. That working class parents feel they as though they are not equipped with educational abilities.

3. That there are institutional barriers (working class parents find difficulty in conforming to institutional values). 

Whilst considering these positive effects that have been associated with parental involvement and education I was interested in investigating whether involvement is being promoted in order to educate and inform parents. In the UK, several measures have been established in order to boost the connections between schools and parents however there is a lack of intervention programmes that promote parental involvement behaviours. 

I believe that further research is needed in order to highlight the importance of parental involvement behaviours such as discussions between the parent and child, working together on homework and essentially creating a positive attitude towards education in general. 

Further research is needed into programs that teach parents the importance of discussions between parents and children, helping with homework and creating positive attitudes towards education. I hope to see more research in this field in the future.

References:

Nechyba. T., McEwan. P., Older-Aguila. D. (1999). The impact of family & community resources on student outcomes: an assessment of the international literature with implications for New Zealand. Ministry Of Education. 

Sacker. A., Schoon. I., Bartley, M. (2002). Social inequality in educational achievement and psychosocial adjustment throughout childhood: magnitude and mechanisms. Social Science & Medicine. 55. 5. 863-880.

Sui-Chu. E. H., & Wilms. J. D. (1996). Efforts Of Parental Involvement on Eighth-Grade Achievement. Sociology of Education. 69. 2. 126-141.

 

Should individual differences be considered in education?

Individual differences are bound to occur within a classroom. This week I will be discussing whether this should be taken into consideration in education and whether action should be taken in order to reduce or to accommodate the variability among students or whether everyone should be educated in an equal manner.

An example of individual variance in education occurs when analysing the effects of gender differences. It has been documented that girls have increasingly performed better than boys in public exam sessions. In 1996, in England and Wales, girls performed significantly better than boys in 15 of the most popular GCSE subjects and in 13 of the most popular A levels subjects.

Today, individual differences are considered in most schools ans in this blog I will be discussing in particular the effects of grouping in education based on students’ academic abilities and whether this is beneficial for the students.

Ability grouping is the practice of creating different groups of students based on their abilities and achievements in order to provide instruction that is specifically relevant to each particular group’s needs. Although ability grouping has become a standard educational practice in most schools, it inspires heated debates extensive research and much controversy. Moreover, according to Huitt (1997) there are two main approaches to grouping:

1.Between-class Ability Grouping

Between-class grouping refers to the system in which students are separated into different classes based on their ability levels (Davdson, 2013). This system is used much more in secondary schools than in primary schools, in fact it has become the standard in most secondary schools today (VanderHart, 2006).

Research does not support this strategy in terms of beneficial learning to all students. It has been found that only the students that are assigned to the top level of the group seem to benefit and that those assigned to the middle and lower ability levels do not (Davidson, 2013). This undoubtedly raises a question of equality. Furthermore between-class ability grouping has been labelled as a tool of discrimination against students who are economically disadvantaged or are members of minority groups. These students are said to often be placed in groups where opportunities for academically based education is significantly limited and vocational training takes priority (Roberts & Inman, 2007).

However, research studies supporting the between-ability grouping system argues that it provides students with appropriate targeted instruction for their specific academic abilities. They also argue that lower-achieving students are able to ask questions without the risk of embarrassment in front of their higher-achieving peers and that the higher achieving students can benefit from more in-depth education, whereas the lower achievers can benefit from more extensive coverage of the core topics. However this raises issues regarding the lower-achieving groups receiving a lower quality of education than the higher-achieving groups (Davidson, 2013).

2.Within-class Ability Grouping

Within-class grouping is the practice of dividing a class of students with diverse abilities into groups based on ability and achievement level.The purpose of this is in order to provide appropriate specific instruction to high achieving students and to provide more assistance to the lower achieving students.This system is used much more often in primary schools than in secondary schools (VanderHart, 2006). 

On the whole, research tends to support within-class ability grouping and find that it is beneficial to the learning of most students. However many research studies also argue against ability grouping because of concern for the psychological and social well-being of the students, especially those that are placed in the lower-achieving groups. This can potentially lead to students feeling unsure of their academic potential, losing their sense of self-esteem and developing a low self-expectation (Davidson, 2013).

After studying both sides of the on-going debate whether individual differences should be classed into separate groups or not I have come to my own conclusion that I do believe that the grouping system is beneficial to students. As many researchers have previously suggested, placing students in groups based on their academic abilities provide the lower-achieving students with the appropriate education that they are able to process whilst providing the higher-achieving students who have shown to have more academic ability with more in-depth coverage of the course content (Davidson, 2013).

References:

Davidson. H. (2013). Ability Grouping. The Gale Group. Retrieved from http://www.education.com/reference/article/ability-grouping/#A on February 2013.

Huitt, W. (1997). Considering individual differences. Educational Psychology Interactive.Valdosta, GA: Valdosta State University. Retrieved from http://www.edpsycinteractive.org/topics/process/indvdiff.html on February 2013. 

Roberts, J. L., & Inman, T. F. (2007). Strategies for differentiating instruction: Best practices for the classroom. Waco, TX: Prufrock Press.

VanderHart, P. G. (2006). Why do some schools group by ability? Some evidence from the NAEP. American Journal of Economics and Sociology, 65(2), 435–463.

Is assessment in education beneficial or not?

This week I have decided to write a blog discussing whether assessing pupils and students in educational environments is beneficial or not and will be discussing the formative vs. summative assessment debate.

Assessment in learning environments has been previously defined as the act or purpose of gathering data in order to gain a better understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of student learning (Thomas, 2007). According to Chris Rust (2002) the purpose of assessment in learning is beneficial for a range of different reasons including motivation, creating learning opportunities, to provide feedback, in order to grade, and as a mechanism to assure the quality of learning and understanding. Moreover Gareis (2007) stated that assessments play an essential role in public schools in order to provide equal and impartial educational opportunities to all students.

Furthermore, Rust (2002) proposed that there are two different types of assessments. One being the formative type and the other being the summative type. He stated that because formative assessments such as assignments and essays involve providing students with feedback which they can use in order to improve their performances in the future, students and pupils benefit from being assigned to these types of tasks. However summative assessments such as end of semester exams provide only a single grade as a form of feedback and therefore Rust (2002) argued that whilst assessments are beneficial in educational environments, it is essential that education is not too often focused on the summative form of assessment as students will benefit much more from opportunities on which they can build on their personal strengths and learn from the mistakes that they make through the feedback that is provided from the formative type of assessing.

Dominic & Harry (2009) published an article that supports the argument that was made by Rust (2002). They reviewed previous research and other evidence regarding the development of the national curriculum assessment in England since 1988 and it’s impact on both teachers and pupils. They too concluded that a greater use of formative assessment strategies and providing feedback from the teacher to the pupil in primary schools are more beneficial.

Weimer (2010) claimed that up to 50% of students admit to ‘cramming’ information before an exam or a test. Weimer suggests that when students cram, the information is stored in the short-term memory and will not enter the long-term memory. Students in the high-cramming category will only remember 27% of the content after 150 weeks of the course ending. They suggested that summative assessments including essay and multiple-choice exams encourage this type of study and therefore support previous arguments that formative assessments are more beneficial to learning.

However Thomas (2007) suggested that examinations are equally as important in education because they allow students to demonstrate the knowledge they have acquired throughout a specific learning period and to also demonstrate the students’ ability to process that knowledge in order to use it within a context.

There is a limited amount of evidence in order to suggest that summative assessments are beneficial to educational environments whilst many theorists who have reviewed previous research and evidence argue that formative assessments are essential to learning. Therefore I conclude that whilst assessing students and pupils is important, it is essential to include formative methods to an academic environment whilst exams, tests and other forms of summative assessments are not effective and therefore are not absolutely necessary in education.

References:
Dominic. W., Harry. T. (2009). The development and consequences of national assessment curriculum for primary education in England. Educational research. 51. 2. 213-228.

Gareis. C. (2007). Reclaiming an important teacher competency: The lost art of formative assessment. Journal of personnel evaluation in education. 20. 1-2.

Rust. C. (2007). Principles and purposes of assessments. Oxford Centre for Staff and Learning Development. 1.

Thomas. S. (2007). Exams as learning experiences: One nutty idea after another. Beyond tests and quizzes: Creative assessments in the college classroom. 71-83.

Weimer. M. (2010). Why students cram for exams. Retrieved from: http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-and-learning/why-students-cram-for-exams/ on February 2013.