Today was one of those days that us educators live for. A recent graduate, Lucretia Witte (who is now teaching 6th graders in Bridgeport CT for Teach for America), came back to campus to lead a session entitled "Student Views on Technology and Teaching" at our Center for the Advancement of Learning (DCAL).
While a senior, Lucretia did research on what students believe are the most effective practices for integrating technology into teaching. Through a combination of quantitative and qualitative methodologies, she was able to gather data from a wide variety of students on their experiences (both good and bad) with educational technology. She then synthesized these findings in a Blackboard site that was made available to faculty, complete with anonymous student discussion board postings on the role of technology in learning. You can read more about her research methodology and findings here.
During today's presentation, Lucretia took the faculty and staff in attendance through her main findings, and offered 4 ideas for immediate improvements that every course could implement.
Synthesis of Research Findings:
Learning Goals : The curriculum and assignments should clearly and explicitly reflect the learning goals for the course.
Engagement: Student engagement with course materials and assignments is influenced both by the degree that students are interested and connected to the material, and by how much that students feel that their professors take a personal interest in their learning and success.
Accountability: Assessment needs to occur frequently and with low stakes, to both hold students accountable for the assigned curriculum and to provide constant feedback and reinforcement.
The four things that every professor can do "THIS WEEK" (Lucretia's words) to make each course more student-friendly include (with the sentences in quotes pulled directly from the handout):
1. Ensure that all readings, articles, presentations and videos (all course material) are available in the course management system.
2. "Create a weekly reading assessment that asks students to formulate or discuss the most important things you wanted them to get out the this week's articles."
3. "Make your syllabus a living document and let students know about changes via class emails - it will put your class in the forefront of their minds."
4. "Use technology to help students engage with one another - create peer review groups for papers or discussion groups online."
These methods are ones that we have discussed in various faculty discussions and professional development events. However, when the advice and ideas come from a student (or a very recent graduate), based on research with fellow students, then the impact of the findings are infinitely more powerful than when expressed by one of us. I think all of us want to understand the student viewpoint and student ideas on teaching and technology. We rarely get this opportunity, however, due to a lack of opportunities and incentives for students to conduct and share this type of research.
How can we build in student led research about teaching with technology into our courses and centers for professional development?
Do you have other good examples of student conducted research on technology and learning?