Summer 2009

Action Inquiry Execution

Aim In this inquiry I will try to gather data to the end of achieving the following: Using technology to drive a sense of urgency and engagement in my students at both KS4 and 5?

Method and Context I will use this action inquiry with the MEA (Means End Analysis) thinking frame as a basis for my research and development of ideas. I have previously highlighted the need for a drive and heightening of engagement and urgency with KeyStage 4/5 (Secondary school students aged 14-18) students to achieving better learning. First Cycle Subjective qualitative data was drawn from a selection of post 16 students (ethical consideration does not allow me to gather data from students under 16) on the open ended questions: 1. What do you enjoy most in a lesson (any subject)? 2. What interests you about this subject? I chose these questions as I wanted to build on existing topics that engaged students and find a common interest that I could then develop. I used the data gathered from this to further develop the context of what can be improved with the view to achieving urgency and engagement to inform the second cycle. Considering this initial response (Appendix i) from these questions, I performed qualitative data analysis (QDA). Using Seidel’s (1998) basic and cyclical process of QDA:

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Action Inquiry Execution

Collecting anonymous data and then reviewing it to notice emerging themes, saw three points prominent in the data with students positive about: ๏ Using technology ๏ Peer to peer learning ๏ Learning collaboratively This was a form of coding as defining themes of recurring importance throughout the gathered data. Kelle and Seidel (1995) comment that codes are differentiated in two basic ways; they can act as “objective, transparent representations of facts” or they are heuristic tools to enable further investigation and discovery. Going onto then think about these themes / codes affirmed my first action that I had thought about at an earlier stage in the MEA. My first action was the introduction of a Wiki (MediWiki, 2009) for students to output their learning for consolidation of their knowledge and for other students to consume in a cyclical fashion. I then ended the first cycle with the Wiki in place and active for a period of time and would use this state as the context for the second cycle. Second Cycle The first thing needed was to collect data based on the impact that was achieved from the first cycle. I again used open ended questions for consistency between the two cycles. The students were unaware as to the precise reason that the Wiki was in place at this stage. The questions were: 1. What do you think of the Wiki platform? 2. How (if at all) does it contribute to your learning? I again performed QDA based on the responses. I was hoping that the feedback (Appendix ii) would be derived from the first cycle answers based on how the students engaged with their learning. The recurring themes were: ๏ More readable that curricular materials ๏ Unwanted user intervention These were clear positive and negative responses respectively. At this point I also thought it useful to gather my own reflections on the situation from Cycle 1 to better set the context for Cycle 2. Some of my ongoing thoughts from the implementation of the Wiki from an administrator / teachers point of view gathered from my journal (Appendix iii): 1. Little facility for user permission allocation 2. Students engaging when tasks on Wiki platform executed correctly 3. Student use of visuals in pages effective Based on the QDA of my ongoing journal of activity of the platform, reflections on the situation highlighted permission allocation as a major issue with the platform. This also coincided with the
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Action Inquiry Execution

QDA from the student feedback of ‘Unwanted user intervention’ when users could add inappropriate media or irrelevant text to pages of student work. Looking at this further, there seemed to be a conflict of ethos with the Wiki platform and the mentality of KS4/5 students. This then called for a resolution that would allow for greater control over user content. A system for students to post work with greater administrative control came from the use of a blog (WordPress, 2009). This platform allowed individual account creation and the facility for specific permissions (edit, publish, delete, moderate, etc.) to be applied to each user. To then gather perceptions of the new system, I issued the same questions to students as before to gather data from cycle one (Wiki) they were: 1. What do you think of the Blogging platform? 2. How (if at all) does it contribute to your learning? As before, QDA was performed on the responses (Appendix iv) and emerging themes were: ๏ Less opportunity for collaboration ๏ More ownership of published content ๏ Structured framework for reviewing each others work My thoughts and reflections on the blogging platform at this point (Appendix v) agreed with my students. Although, I cannot help but think the third theme (Structured framework for reviewing each other work) was encouraged by my input as to the use of the blog, I did not expect the use of blog comments to be as useful in the learning process and development of emotional intelligence as it was. With further development, the comments of blog posts could prove to be on parity with the effectiveness of the collaboration aspect of the Wiki, just in an asynchronous execution. Conclusions From both cycles of the inquiry, it can be seen that the use of technology has potential as an addition to the teaching and learning environment. Both cycles and technologies (Wiki and Blogging Platform) had an overall positive affect on students engagement with learning from my observations and QDA on students responses, but the shortcomings of the Wiki platform lead to possible issues with a longer-term implementation. The surprise of the inquiry came from the use and benefit from the commenting feature of the Blog platform. I do think that if the inquiry were go into a third cycle, or possibly even break off into a separate tangent inquiry altogether, the Wiki platform could be further refined, developed and utilised (as it is open source) to incorporate the demand for user permissions to facilitate learning. Using the Wiki and Blog together in tasks could potentially be a more rounded solution to engagement with materials and urgency of peer reviewing other students work within lessons. Screen captures of the Wiki and Blog can be found in Appendix vi and vii respectively.

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