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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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