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Chris Humphreys

May 26, 2014


EDET 780

Introduction

The implementation of 21
st
Century teaching and learning best practices have never been more
important or as challenging then in todays classroom. Given that Im an early elementary
education teacher I continuously search for these best practices and methods to use in my own
classroom, as well as, bring to the staff of my school as the chair of the technology committee.
Both of these roles play an important part in how our school performs and will be perceived as a
21
st
century staff when we are visited by AdvancED next year.

I want to use the three dissertation reviews as an opportunity to view current trends and questions
proposed by doctoral students in the field of educational technology in education. The
dissertations that I selected for this project all relate to 21
st
century skills in elementary education
in some form or another. The first one is on how 21
st
century skills in high achieving elementary
schools conflict with No Child Left Behind (NCLB). The second is on how programs and
practices were designed and implemented for the purposes of developing 21st century
competencies in students and teachers. The last study deals with the exploration of technology
integration and incorporation of 21
st
century skills in elementary classrooms. I hope to use the
knowledge learned from the review of the dissertations to not only increase my teaching and
learning practices but also that of my schools.


Dissertation 1:
A Case Study of 21st Century Skills in High Achieving Elementary Schools in Pennsylvania

Egnor, G. P. (2013). A case study of 21st century skills in high achieving elementary schools in
pennsylvania. (Order No. 3558808, Indiana University of Pennsylvania). ProQuest Dissertations
and Theses, , 128.
Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1352753231?accountid=13965.
(1352753231).
http://search.proquest.com.pallas2.tcl.sc.edu/pqdtft/docview/1352753231/F25EDC5EA2DD4EF
1PQ/1?accountid=13965

Summary

This dissertation is a study of the skills and focuses on the instructional, curricular, and
assessment practices found in a high achieving elementary school. The study argues the point
that the American foundation of education is still built on a 20
th
century model. Given the
introduction of NCLB in the early 2000s elementary schools have been strapped to state
standardized testing to assess is the students have indeed meet the standards set for them. The
question is do these assessments truly assess our students with 21
st
century skills they will need
in the current global economy.

Review
The dissertation discussed the roles of 21
st
century skills in elementary school. The results found
that although most educators understood what these skills are that they still felt that they were
something extra to be taught rather than being part of the instruction and assessment. The school
uses the 4 Cs by integrating critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity in the
classroom but generally after the state standardized tests are completed. It was stated that thats
when the school gets to do fun lessons. This is completely backwards way of thinking about 21
st

century skills.

Dissertation 2:
21st Century Skills Practices and Programs: A Case Study at an Elementary School

Oretta, C. (2012). 21st century skills practices and programs: A case study at an elementary
school. (Order No. 3513824, University of Southern California). ProQuest Dissertations and
Theses, , 108.
Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1026585661?accountid=13965.
(1026585661).
http://search.proquest.com.pallas2.tcl.sc.edu/pqdtft/docview/1026585661/ABCBACD6311B4EC
2PQ/1?accountid=13965

Summary
Because of the increasingly difficult task of schools to be using 21
st
century skills are now being
incorporated into every aspect of education. This dissertation discusses how programs and
practices are designed and implemented for the purposes of developing 21st century
competencies in students and teachers. Those programs that were included in this study were
effective professional development, collaboration/ grade level planning, and a standards-based
curriculum.

Review
The dissertation was very interesting because it laid out several key factors that were identified
in the results that directly related to my own personal experiences. The research found that
collaborating and planning with grade level teams helped increase the use of 21
st
century skills in
the classroom. This was due to the grade level planning purposeful lessons that included those
skills needed. It also identified instructional leadership from the principal and teachers as a way
to help the school implement those skills because of meaningful professional development.
Also, fidelity was used to describe how the curriculum should be viewed and used to implement
21
st
century skills. The dissertation described that using the data gained from formative and
summative assessments were necessary to ensure that strategies are being used to teach 21
st

century skills to their students.







Dissertation 3:
A Case Study Exploring Technology Integration and Incorporation of 21st Century Skills in
Elementary Classrooms

Louis, R. C. (2012). A case study exploring technology integration and incorporation of 21st
century skills in elementary classrooms. (Order No. 3554119, Northeastern
University). ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, , 162.
Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1316620093?accountid=13965.
(1316620093).
http://search.proquest.com.pallas2.tcl.sc.edu/pqdtft/docview/1316620093/1B3ED1041DA847C3
PQ/1?accountid=13965

Summary
The dissertation describes the current state of the educational system where as the schools are
getting technology in the classrooms. However, the teachers are not able to use this technology
in a way that supports the 4 Cs of 21
st
century skills. This study explores different methods of
integrating technology and addressing 21
st
century skills in elementary classrooms. The findings
of the study showed that the students were motivated by the use of technology, depended on the
type of technology, and the degree of the participation of the student. The study also found that
the teachers use of technology relied heavily on the type of activity it was, the teachers comfort
level with the technology being used and the teachers comfort level with the content area. The
last thing that the study concluded with was that teachers limited knowledge of 21
st
century skills
and did not integrate those skills into the daily lessons with forethought or planning across all
content areas.

Review
I liked reading this research study because it dealt with the real issue of integrating 21
st
century
skills into the classroom. It brought up a lot of great points and I could relate all of the findings
to my own situation. The use of 21
st
century skills doesnt just happen just because you have a
laptops or iPads in the classroom. Teachers will need time to thoughtfully plan and collaborate
inquiry-based and game-based learning into the students everyday lessons to accomplish this
successfully. The teachers in the school will also need extensive training on any technology they
are expected to use in the classroom and it needs to be simple. They have to be able to do what
they will ask the students to do before it will work in the classroom. If their comfort level is off
and the teachers view it as an extra thing they have to do 21
st
century use of technology will
never happen. This dissertation did a great job of bringing those topics to light because I feel that
every school across the nation will find themselves in the same position as the one in the study. It
will take supportive administrators, politicians, and stakeholders before all teachers are able to
implement 21
st
century skills into the classroom regularly and consistently.