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High-Tech Versus Low-Tech Teaching in the Urban Classroom

Abstract
High-Tech Versus Low-Tech Teaching in the Urban Classroom
Narciso Aguda, M. Ed. 2139 Purdue Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90025.
University of California Los Angeles Graduate School of Education and Information Studies,
Los Angeles, CA
Faculty Advisor: Irene Swanson
Field Supervisor: Lily Ning

Students within the urban classroom are front-seat recipients to multimedia and technology on a
daily basis as they receive it from both television and internet. As powerful a tool as Multimedia
Technology is, it has not been widely used within the context of the urban classroom.
Traditional means of teaching, though at times effective, are limited in helping to engage this
media-savvy generation of students. Low-tech and high-tech instructional strategies were
implemented in two biology classes to explore their effects on the understanding of abstract
concepts. Daily teacher reflections were used to compare student engagement during an
instructional unit. Pre and post-instructional quizzes were analyzed with Microsoft Excel to
compare the effect of low-tech versus high-tech instructional strategies. Though student
engagement in the high-tech group was significantly higher than that of the low-tech group, both
groups displayed equal understanding of content. These results support the implementation of
high-tech strategies to increase student engagement; however other factors may have more of a
significant impact on understanding.

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Contents
1.0|Rationale and Posing of Question
1.1 Background
1.2 Context of Research
1.3 Personal Educational Philosophy
1.4 High-tech vs. Low-Tech Approaches
1.5 The Posing of the Question

2.0|Theoretical Underpinnings and Secondary Sources


2.1 Constructivism
2.2 The Nature of Analogy
2.3 Krashen’s Affective Filters
2.4 Bloom’s Taxonomy
2.5 Multiple Intelligences
2.6 Student Learning from Simulation
2.7 Good Teaching
2.8 Deficit Thinking

3.0|The Inquiry Process


3.1 Overview
3.2 Sketch of Group A
3.3 Sketch of Group B
3.4 Implementation
3.5 Implementation Matrix

4.0|Data and Observations


4.1 Pre-course Survey
4.2 Pre-instruction Quiz
4.3 Delivery
4.4 Inquiry Activity
4.5 Assessment
4.6 Follow-up Focus Groups

5.0|Interpretations and Implications


5.1 Implications to sub-question #1
5.2 Implications to sub-question #2

6.0|Conclusions

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6.1 Students are media-savvy and are


therefore more engaged in this relevant
form of presentation of an abstract
concept.
6.2 “Engagement” is a relative term.
6.3 Engagement within the “Pedagogy of
Poverty”
6.4 Technology presents content in a relevant
manner
6.5 Multimedia technology helps students
make better connections between structure
and concept
6.6 Assessment and follow-up
6.7 Implications to the teaching practice

7.0|References

8.0|Appendices

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1.0|Rationale and Posing of Question


1.1 BACKGROUND:

For many of us, making mental abstractions is a daunting task. In science, students are required

to make transfers between analogies to real science. PowerPoint and Multimedia, though not

new forms of technology and media, are powerful tools for teaching. They are presently in

abundance on the university campus, private schools, and many schools in affluent areas, but not

so much in the urban environment.

I am an expert in PowerPoint and other graphic programs. I spend a great amount of time

developing PowerPoints that not only present information, but that also provide animations to

assist students build a better “story” and concept in which to couch new information.

1.2 CONTEXT OF RESEARCH

I teach at an urban high school in downtown Los Angeles. The high school has an ethnic

breakdown of 98% Hispanic and 2% African-American students. Organizationally, this school

follows a “4x4 modified Copernican Schedule,” which was devised as an alternative to the

traditional calendar (Braumbaugh, 2001). In theory, the Copernican schedule should allow

students to accelerate their matriculation through the high school system, receiving more credits

per calendar year. This would allow the students to complete high school in three rather than

four years as in traditional schools. This model requires students and teachers to progress

through the material of two traditional semesters (40 weeks) in the span of one semester (20

weeks), cutting instruction time in half. As a result, our school is modified into a 4x4, Concept 6

(3-track), year-round schedule. The challenge for all teachers at this high school is how to adapt

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the content normally covered throughout the span of one 20-week semester into the 8-week

“mester.” The challenge is immense and many teachers are sacrificing rigor and depth of content

for brevity.

The social dynamic of this brand new high school, which opened on July 5, 2005, was chaotic, as

it struggled to find its identity. A majority of the students enrolled were a direct result of the

capping of other schools in numerous areas within a 10 mile radius. As a result, over 100 gangs

from different parts of the city are represented on the school campus on any given day. Racial

and social tensions have mainstreamed, which manifest in the school culture and identity. Lock

downs, random student searches, and a heavy police presence are almost daily routines on this

campus. Despite all of these, the school contains numerous sub-cultures that provide for a

welcoming breath of diversity. Though the school’s population consists primarily of Hispanic

students, sub-cultures exist and flourish as students become more involved with extracurricular

activities. Cinco de Mayo and Martin Luther King, Jr. day are both recognized and celebrated.

From the “rockers” to the enduring sounds of Raggaeton and hip-hop, additional sub-cultures

emerge that add flavor to administrative monotony. This school is an island among an even

more diverse subsection of the city. It is located in the center of a commercial district known as

the Fashion District or more commonly, “Santee Alley.” Shops and businesses owned by other

ethnicities including Korean, Filipino, Mexican, Italian, El Salvadorian, etc. line the streets

adjacent to the school. The average annual household income within the 90011 zip code is

slightly under $24,000, merely a 0.01% increase since the previous year (Census Data, 2000).

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The high school also follows the Small Learning Communities (SLC) model. In theory, this

model would further facilitate matriculation by effectively breaking up the school into four

smaller schools: Arts and Entertainment (A&E), Public Service and Social Justice, Travel

Tourism and Culinary Arts (TTC), and Business, Technology and Finance (BTF). During the

time of implementation, I was teaching within the Arts and Entertainment SLC. All students in a

particular SLC have the same teachers and classmates throughout their high school careers. The

theoretical implications for such a model include: smaller class sizes, the building of better

relationships between students and teacher, and the lessening of the administrative load on a

single principal or assistant principals (US Department of Education, 2006). However, since the

school’s inception, the SLC model has been simply an evanescent ideal as the administration still

struggles with overcrowding, incorrect student programming, cultural conflicts, SLC purity, and

the concept-6 (3-track) system. As a result, teachers are still dealing with large class sizes and

programming issues. Some students are sometimes added or removed at the four week mark. In

many cases, students are retaking classes they have already passed due to programming

inconsistencies. Despite all of this, learning is taking place in the classrooms that foster the idea

of caring.

1.3 PERSONAL EDUCATIONAL PHILOSOPHY

Part of my Philosophy of Education is to be able to provide an environment that is enriched,

where learning is more-so a multi-sensory encounter than a traditional lecture where content-

induced comas prevail. In this sense, learning becomes more than a task, but an experience.

Socio-cultural theorists agree that learning occurs through experiences in environments of

community. It has been said that the “you” of today is a representation of the sum total of your

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experiences until today. All experiences are events in our lives that change us. Many people do

not equate experiences with learning yet they would agree with the statement, “I am who I am

today because of my experiences.” You will not be the same person tomorrow because of your

experiences today. If learning shapes your view on life tomorrow, learning therefore is a series of

experiences that shapes our understanding. In my teaching, I intend to take students through a

series of multiple experiences that would hopefully provide a memory crutch on which to couch

new, abstract information. The vehicle of experience is that of the visual aid—specifically the

use of technology and multimedia. Throughout my life I have been inundated by multi-media

experiences. I’ve known the power of television, technology, and multi-media to be one of my

best teachers. If the purpose of a teacher is to provide the student with a learning environment

conducive and relevant to the learner, then teachers cannot afford to be flippant with the delivery

of information, lest students become drones perpetuating the pedagogy of poverty. Knowledge,

then, should, if at all possible, be relevant and accessible to our students’ media-savvy culture.

Therefore, in nearly all my presentations, activities, and lectures as a school teacher, I

incorporate the use of technology as a visual aid.

1.3.1 POWERPOINT: A VISUAL TOOL FOR A VISUAL GENERATION

Traditional teaching has been that of white and black-board lectures, manipulatives, and thought-

exercises. While these methods have their place, students get easily confused, sometimes

formulating misconceptions that can take years to deconstruct. Though my students are

considered to be urban and of low-income, they are not immune from the effects of media. Being

in the middle of a media-driven city, they can be described as a post-modern generation driven

by the use of the visual aid and multi-media. Students who watch my computer presentations

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have asked me questions like, “what website did you download that from?” or “Mr. Aguda, did

you download the newest version of Google Earth yet?” Further, many of my students

communicate via the internet through websites such as www.myspace.com, www.xanga.com,

www.facebook.com, websites designed to network friends and others. These are students who

are engrossed with MTV, BET, and the Disney Channel. Many even enjoy watching TLC and

the Discovery channel. It is no doubt that these students are a visual generation. In a time where

nearly all media is communicated via images, movies, animations, sound, and live-action, it

remains to be explored what effect this tool has in the realm of academics, especially in the urban

high school.

1.3.2 EQUITABLE ACCESS TO CONTENT THROUGH TECHNOLOGY

Unfortunately, as powerful a tool as media is, it is not being used to its fullest potential in

teaching science, especially in the urban context. Some of the teaching observed in classrooms

within the district are what Haberman pointed out in his Pedagogy of Poverty Versus Good

Teaching: “the core functions of urban teaching include: giving information, asking questions,

giving directions, making assignments, monitoring seatwork, giving tests, reviewing tests,

assigning homework, reviewing homework, settling disputes, marking papers and giving grades

(Haberman, 1991).” Part of the problem with learning and retention in the inner city is due to a

method of teaching that is not only archaic, but is assumed to continue to work in such a context.

This is faulty. It follows from a deficit assumption that students in the inner-city context require

stringent, traditional means of teaching where the content is far from engaging and as a result, far

from being accessible (Venezuela, 1997). Students are believed to be incapable of learning any

other way than this structure. As a result, many students do their work, copy answers and

definitions from books to satisfy the requirements of the teacher’s questions, and then pass a

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class without having truly made connections to actual content let alone begin the vital task of

establishing critical thinking skills.

Haberman suggests a drastic reform of urban schools from this pedagogy to “good teaching.”

What can happen to learning if such a shift occurs? What happens to the traditional urban

classroom when content is made accessible to the student, especially in the same form that is

accessible to the student from Beverly Hills and even UCLA? PowerPoint is not only a tool to

be used in colleges and universities where resources are abundant, but can also be a tool that

could begin to shift us towards good teaching. Content can now be relevant, especially in this

visual generation. And I could think of no better candidates to experience this shift, than my

students.

1.4 HIGH-TECH VS. LOW-TECH

1.4.1 THE TRADITIONAL LOW-TECH APPROACH

For most of my life as an elementary and secondary student I learned in a traditional, low-tech

classroom. In a traditional setting, the primary mode of delivery is that of teacher-delivered,

black and white board lecture, much of which is not interactive except when students are

required (or simply reminded) to take notes specific to the topic and the assessment. After the

teacher has disseminated the information, an activity follows to help solidify information. This

activity is usually also low-tech. In a science classroom, manipulatives and other hands-on

devices are used to represent certain structures and concepts. The teacher will then debrief the

activity by initiating a discussion or by lecturing briefly on the components of the analogy and

defining what they represent in real science. For example a teacher may say, “The pipe cleaners

represent chromosomes.” After this brief discussion and a simple check for understanding the

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topic is completed and the teacher moves on assuming that students have made the appropriate

connections.

1.4.2 MANIPULATIVES IN THE TRADITIONAL SETTING

Science is a study of conceptual abstracts that are at many times intangible and therefore require

the use of analogies. These activities are hands on and exemplify the definition of an “inquiry-

based activity.” For example, to teach the process of mitosis, a teacher may use a paper plate,

pipe-cleaners, glue, and macaroni. The teacher proceeds to use an analogy to describe the

process of mitosis that occurs in this “cell”. We can start with pipe-cleaners and glue, because

students have a contextual basis with which to begin. Cognitive theory bears strongly on the use

of prior knowledge as a basis upon which to build new knowledge. They know what pipe

cleaners are and even some understand their simple properties. The use of manipulatives and

activities that model concepts are vital to this constructivist view of learning. However, how

effective is this traditional form of inquiry-based activity in the overall conceptual framework

that the teacher is assisting in building within the student’s mind?

1.4.3 MANIPULATIVES AND ANALOGIES

Manipulatives are essentially analogical devices that require some form of transfer. Transfer of

learning must occur from learning in one context (the analogue or source) to a related

performance in another context (the target). Without a student making these connections,

students may formulate misconceptions such as the one below:

“I remember that the pipe-cleaners moved to the side and then the paper plate split in half,” was

a common answer in some final exams that I gave. Though it seemed that many students were

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able to connect the analogy to the concept initially, many students unsuccessfully retained the

appropriate connections during the final exam. It could also be argued whether or not students

even understood the analogy.

Furthermore, students who are not visio-spatial find difficulties in making these mental

abstractions. When students arrive at the final assessment or culminating task, did they really

make the connection between structure and concept? Will they remember the function of

chromosomes and spindle fibers? Or will the knowledge retained only include the fact that “the

pipe-cleaners represented something important” as has been seen in many of my exams.

1.5 POSING OF THE QUESTION:

DOES POWERPOINT AND MULTIMEDIA TECHNOLOGY FACILITATE


UNDERSTANDING OF ABSTRACT CONCEPTS BETTER THAN
TRADITIONAL LOW-TECH TEACHING METHODS?

Given that students in this culture and generation are media-oriented, I want to explore whether

or not the use of multimedia and technology positively affects student learning in terms of

retention and engagement. I want to compare traditional methods of teaching that include

traditional lectures and hands-on analogy (as discussed above), to a “high-tech” teaching context

where students are inundated with multimedia and computer technology. To help answer this

question, I have broken down my inquiry into two guiding questions:

1.5.1 DOES POWERPOINT HELP IN STUDENT ENGAGEMENT?

Are students more engaged in the material when the instructor uses multimedia technology in the

classroom better than traditional white-board lectures and hands-on manipulative analogy?

Images, full-color pictures, animations, and other forms of the visual aid are relevant resources

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which any student in Los Angeles should be familiar. I would like to find out whether or not

students felt engaged in learning about mitosis. Students who are actively engaged in the

curriculum have the most access to the content and who inevitably have a positive experience

with the information.

1.5.2 DOES POWERPOINT AND MULTIMEDIA TECHNOLOGY AFFECT A


STUDENT’S OVERALL UNDERSTANDING OF THE CONCEPT BY MAKING
BETTER CONNECTIONS BETWEEN STRUCTURE AND CONCEPT?

When using manipulatives only, students are required to perform the activity as described by the

instructor, as well as be able to make connections between analogy and structure. In my

experience this is difficult because many students have difficulty with analogies, while others

simply recall the analogous structure better than what it actually represents. Learning structure is

simply rote memorization where students remember that “blue pipe-cleaners represent sister

chromatids.” In PowerPoint and multimedia this is not necessarily the case. Instead of students

experiencing pipe-cleaners, students see pictures of chromosomes that bear better resemblance to

what is really happening within a cell. PowerPoint is still a domain of analogies since what is

being seen is only a virtual representation of a real cell. However, this technology effectively

discards the “middle man” in the process of learning an already difficult concept.

Additionally, mitosis is a process and must be studied as such. For example, if pipe-cleaners

represent chromosomes in teaching mitosis, then how can “Anaphase” (the part of mitosis where

sister chromatids are pulled apart towards the poles of the cell) be modeled? A teacher can

model this by essentially manipulating the manipulatives, however, I would argue that

PowerPoint can provide a more effective way by providing a student with a better overall picture

of mitosis. Furthermore, PowerPoint and Multimedia technology can help students understand

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the bigger picture. Many minutes are wasted helping students to map the correct connections

between manipulative analogies and concept that sometimes the “big-picture” is neglected or at-

best deemphasized. What students are left remembering in a short period of time is simply what

the pipe-cleaners represent. PowerPoint and Multimedia technology has the potential to

emphasize show the “big-picture,” specifically focusing on concept, function and structure co-

dependently. For example, students can better understand why there are spindle fibers when

presented animation of spindle fibers actually moving sister chromatids away from the

metaphase plate.

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2.0|Theoretical Underpinnings and Secondary Sources


2.1 CONSTRUCTIVISM

According to constructivism, knowledge is not 'about' the world, but rather 'constitutive' of the

world. Knowledge, then, is not a fixed object, rather it is constructed by an individual through

his or her own experience of that object or concept. Therefore, learning is more than being a

student; it encompasses a series of learning experiences and teachable moments which provide

the learner with mental reminders of the specific concept. Constructivism envisions the student

not as tabula rasa, (or “blank slate”) but rather sees the student as a wealth of experiences, each

having his or her own relevant experiences. The teacher then must be relevant to the learner, so

that he or she may build upon previous knowledge. This realm of thinking implies an approach

to learning that consists of an authentic, challenging curriculum which includes students,

teachers, and experts within the context of a learning community. Its goal is to create learning

communities that are more closely related to the collaborative practice of the real world. In my

classroom, students enter with preconceived notions of the world, its structure, and its functions.

Whether or not they are aware of it, students are scientists at heart, positing and hypothesizing

about the world around them. These hypotheses are shaped by their environment and their

experiences. A crucial element of constructivism is active participation where dialog is shared

via experiences (Brunner, 1973).

In sum, the contemporary constructivist theory puts the learner under the category of active

agents. The learner engages in his or her own knowledge construction by integrating new

information into his or her own prior knowledge by associating and representing it in a

meaningful way. Constructivists argue that it is impractical for teachers to make all the current

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decisions and dump the information to students without involving students in the decision

process and assessing students' abilities to construct knowledge. In other words, guided

instruction is suggested which puts students at the center of the learning process, and provides

guidance and concrete teaching whenever necessary.

2.2 THE NATURE OF AN ANALOGY

Analogy is either the cognitive process of transferring information from a particular subject (the

analogue or source) to another particular subject (the target), or a linguistic expression

corresponding to such a process (Gentner, 1983). Analogies are limited in that they deal only

with relational predicates. For example, Kepler attempted to explain planetary motion by using

an analogy of a boat in a swift current of water. He related the boat to the planets and the water

current to this mysterious “gravitational” (though not called that yet) pull. However, analogy is

limited in that it does not deal with real object attributes. (As is the nature of an analogy) The

boat does not “look like” the earth and this strange cosmic gravitational pull does not resemble

true gravity. In teaching abstract concepts such as mitosis, one begins using analogies (pipe

cleaners, paper plates, etc.): “the chromosome is like a pipe cleaner.” However, though this

analogy has relational alignment, it is not really a chromosome. The teacher proceeds to use a

PowerPoint presentation of a REAL cell undergoing REAL mitosis. Here the student

experiences LITERAL SIMILARITY, where both relational predicates and object attributes are

shared.

Dedre Gentner’s work on Structure Mapping suggests that Analogies and Literal Similarities

exist on a continuum (see Fig. 2.2). The closer an analogous object is to the target object, the

easier it is for a student to understand the concept.

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Figure 2.2 Gentner’s Similarity Space:


Showing different kinds of matches in terms of the Degree
of Relational Versus Object-description Overlap

2.3 AFFECTIVE FILTERS

"Affective Filter" is the term Stephen Krashen has used to refer to the complex of negative

emotional and motivational factors that may interfere with the reception and processing of

comprehensible input. Such factors include: anxiety, self-consciousness, boredom, annoyance,

alienation, and so forth. Though, according to Krashen, this theory applies most closely to

second language acquisition rather than what he calls “conscious learning,” I would argue further

that mental block does occur in terms of boredom and annoyance. To use a methodology that is

often convenient, approachable, fun, and relevant to the student is to, in essence, lower the

mental block or affective filter and hopefully decrease boredom and anxiety. Since a majority of

my students surf the internet, the task to explore and “play” with a flash animation on a website

should not be a daunting task. Also, because mitosis is an active moving process, the use of

multimedia technology could be of great benefit in understanding this process better than static,

two-dimensional images (Krashen, 1987).

2.4 BLOOM’S TAXONOMY

The cognitive domain involves knowledge and the development of intellectual skills. This

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includes the recall or recognition of specific facts, procedural patterns, and concepts that serve in

the development of intellectual abilities and skills. There are six major categories, which are

listed in order below, starting from the simplest behavior to the most complex. The categories

can be thought of as degrees of difficulties. That is, the first one must be mastered before the

next one can take place (Bloom, 1956).

Category Example and Key Words


Knowledge: Recall data or information. Key Words: defines, describes, identifies, knows, labels, lists, matches,
names, outlines, recalls, recognizes, reproduces, selects, states.
Comprehension: Understand the meaning, transla- Key Words: comprehends, converts, defends, distinguishes, estimates,
tion, interpolation, and interpretation of instructions explains, extends, generalizes, gives
and problems. State a problem in one's own words.

Application: Use a concept in a new situation or Key Words: applies, changes, computes, constructs, demonstrates,
unprompted use of an abstraction. Applies what was discovers, manipulates, modifies, operates, predicts, prepares, pro-
learned in the classroom into novel situations in the duces, relates, shows, solves, uses.
work place.
Analysis: Separates material or concepts into com- Key Words: analyzes, breaks down, compares, contrasts, diagrams,
ponent parts so that its organizational structure may deconstructs, differentiates, discriminates, distinguishes, identifies, illus-
be understood. Distinguishes between facts and trates, infers, outlines, relates, selects, separates.
inferences.
Synthesis: Builds a structure or pattern from diverse Key Words: categorizes, combines, compiles, composes, creates, de-
elements. Put parts together to form a whole, with vises, designs, explains, generates, modifies, organizes, plans, rear-
emphasis on creating a new meaning or structure. ranges, reconstructs, relates, reorganizes, revises, rewrites, summa-
rizes, tells, writes.
Evaluation: Make judgments about the value of Key Words: concludes, contrasts, criticizes, critiques, defends, de-
ideas or materials. scribes, discriminates, valuates, explains, interprets, summarizes, sup-
ports.
Table 2.4 Bloom’s Taxonomy. Levels of cognitive rigor increase as one traverses down the chart.

The challenge for any teacher is to provide students with enough scaffolding so that students can

go beyond the rote recall stage (i.e. Knowledge) and progress to higher orders of processing and

thinking (i.e. Application, Analysis, and Synthesis). Students cannot attain these levels of

knowledge assimilation and application with only a casual experience with content. Within a

classroom context, teachers provide this higher-order-thinking practice by preparing activities

which help solidify recall and allow students an interactive experience with the content.

Students who have more hands-on experience with the content (via problems, interactive

simulations, etc.) are generally able to envision the bigger picture of the concept and therefore

are able to understand the material better than simply recall knowledge.

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2.5 MULTIPLE INTELLIGENCES

Gardner’s multiple intelligences theory states that individuals possess multiple mental

representations and intellectual languages. Each individual differs from one another in the

strength of each particular cognitive representation. According to multiple intelligences theory,

there are at least eight different intelligences (see Table 2.5). These intelligences constitute the

ways in which individuals assimilate, retain, and manipulate information (Gardner, 1996). The

ways individuals demonstrate understanding (and misunderstandings) is further affected by

which intelligence is being used. For example, students who are adept in Spatial Intelligence as

well as Logical-Mathematical Intelligence are able to see a cell in three-dimensions. That is

there are cognitive faculties which facilitate the representation of a two-dimensional image into a

three-dimensional projection in one’s mind. Students who do not have these intelligences

experience difficulty in making this projection and therefore, require models and manipulatives

or highly descriptive language to grasp adequately the concept. The teacher must make

modifications to the instructional delivery in order to cater to the needs of these other

intelligences.

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Verbal-Linguistic Logical-Mathematical Visual-Spatial Bodily-Kinesthetic

choral speaking problem solving graphing hands on experiments


declarizing measuring photographing activities
storytelling coding making visual changing room
retelling sequencing metaphors arrangement
speaking critical thinking making visual analogies creative movement
debating predicting mapping stories going on field trips
presenting playing logic games making 3D projects physical education
reading aloud collecting data painting activities
dramatizing experimenting illustrating crafts
book making solving puzzles using charts dramatizing
nonfiction reading classifying using organizers using cooperative
researching using manipulatives visualizing groups
listening learning the scientific sketching dancing
process writing model patterning
writing journals using money visual puzzles
using geometry

Musical Interpersonal Intrapersonal Naturalistic

humming classroom parties personal response reading outside


rapping peer editing individual study cloud watching
playing background cooperative learning personal goal setting identifying insects
music sharing individual projects building habitats
patterns group work journal log keeping identifying plants
form forming clubs personal choice in using a microscope
playing instruments peer teaching projects dissecting
tapping out poetic social awareness independent reading going on a nature walk
rhythms conflict mediation build a garden
rhyming discussing studying the stars
singing cross age tutoring bird watching
study group
brainstorming collecting rocks
making bird feeders
going to the zoo
Table 2.5 Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences. Key cognitive skills for each intelligence. A student may possess skill in one or many of the
intelligences listed above.

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2.6 STUDENT LEARNING FROM SIMULATION (TRADITIONAL vs. HI TECH)

Much work has been done in regards to student learning using simulations. A study by G.

Baxter shows that such methods of inquiry offer great implications to teaching, especially in the

urban context. For example, simulations are less costly and time consuming to administer than

hands-on assessments, in part because large numbers of students can be tested simultaneously, if

sufficient computers are available. Also, Baxter mentions that computers offer better

opportunities for students to access the content, because it “provides an open-ended,

unconstrained environment for conducting science investigations.” Their findings were curious

in that both groups performed similarly, each group having large fluctuations in performance.

“Some students performed better with one method and some students perform better with the

other” (Baxter, 1995.)

Another group of researchers from the Hong Kong Institute of Education researched the use of

Internet-based, teacher-delivered scientific inquiry. They found that the use of internet

simulations rather than actual experiments was time, safety, and financially more practical.

Also, they mentioned that the “hands-on” experiments using computer simulations provide the

student with a “self-paced” learning experience, allowing students the freedom to work at their

own pace. The interactive nature of the internet allows for students to have a truly cognitive

“mind-on” learning experience, allowing students to draw on prior experience rather than “rote-

recall and performance.” They also mentioned that this type of experience is facilitated by high-

quality graphics and animations to which any student of varying science achievement can have

access (Yan Yeung, et al, n.l.).

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2.7 GOOD TEACHING

The impetus for such an endeavor is heightened by an article by Martin Haberman.

In his article, Haberman, an education professor at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee,

describes the teaching practices in many high-poverty, urban schools. He maintains that this

approach, which emphasizes constant teacher direction and student compliance, keeps many

students from reaching their full potential. "Teachers who begin their careers intending to be

helpers, models, guides, stimulators, and caring sources of encouragement transform themselves

into directive authoritarians in order to function in urban schools." As a result of such teaching

practices, students do not have adequate exposure to the content; they are generally disengaged

with curriculum and as a result, produce lower scores on standardized tests. Haberman suggests

a shift to “good teaching” practices in the urban context which would pressure teachers to illicit

student involvement and help whet a student’s process of critical thinking. Haberman provides

12 characteristics of “good teaching” and contrasts them to the pedagogy of poverty. Good

teaching occurs in classrooms where students are: (1) involved with issues they regard as vital

concerns, (2) whenever students are involved with explanations of human differences,

(3)whenever students are being helped to see major concepts, big ideas, and general principles,

and are not merely engaged in the pursuit of isolated facts, (4) involved in planning what they

will be doing, (5) involved with applying ideals such as fairness, equity, or justice to their world,

(6) actively involved, (7) directly involved in a real-life experience, (8) actively involved in

heterogeneous groups, (9) asked to think about an idea in a way that questions common sense or

a widely accepted assumption, that relates new ideas to ones learned previously, or that applies

an idea to the problems of living, (10) involved in redoing, polishing, or perfecting their work,

(11) involved with the technology of information access, (12) involved in reflecting on their own

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lives and how they have come to believe and feel as they do, good teaching is going on

(Haberman, 1997).

2.8 DEFICIT THINKING

The Pedagogy of Poverty follows from the idea of deficit thinking. Deficit thinking is a mindset

on learning that blames the student; in essence “positing that the student who fails in school does

so because of internal deficits or deficiencies.” Richard Valencia delves into a discussion of six

characteristics of deficit thinking in the context of schooling. (1) He determined that this deficit

thinking framework is inherently oppressive since its nature is this ‘victim-blamers/victim”

model where the student is thought to be the cause of such problems in learning. (2)

Oppression; because students are to blame, people of power exercise the unjust use of authority

and power to keep a group of people at bay. (3) Further, he calls deficit thinking a

“pseudoscience” arguing that research performed regarding this pedagogy is flawed. (4) Deficit

thinking is also greatly influenced by the temporal period which it finds itself; in light of the

changing atmospheres of scholarship, the framework of deficit thinking evolves. (5) Educability;

deficit thinking posits a prediction of maintenance and perpetuation of deficits, should an

intervention not be pursued. (6) Heterodoxy; the notion of deficit thinking is integrated as part

of the society and is therefore undisguised, unquestioned, and undisputed (Valencia, 1997).

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3.0|The Inquiry Process


This study was conducted by comparing two biology classes:

Group A

Period 1 Biology: LOW-TECH group

Traditional white-board lecture and hands on student inquiry.

Group B

Period 4 Biology: HIGH-TECH group

PowerPoint Lecture and internet-based student inquiry.

3.1 OVERVIEW

Implementation contained six parts. In part one, both groups were assessed for their involvement

and exposure to multimedia by taking a pre-course survey. In part two, both groups received the

same pre-quiz to assess for previous knowledge on the topic of mitosis. In part three, students

received the initial delivery of curriculum by either one of two methods: The LOW-TECH

(designated hereafter as GROUP A) group received traditional delivery of curriculum (i.e. the

use of a white-board and colored markers). The HIGH-TECH group (designated hereafter as

GROUP B) experienced a purely PowerPoint based lecture incorporating animations and full-

color representations of mitosis. Further, both groups completed a post-lecture worksheet to help

reinforce and simplify what was learned. In part four of implementation, all students were

engaged in an inquiry-based activity to solidify concepts using hands-on experience. Group A

was instructed to create and model mitosis using traditional manipulatives (analogy-based) and

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their notes as a hands-on “laboratory activity.” Group B was directed to www.cellsalive.com

where they were able to manipulate a virtual cell as basis for their inquiry. This website also

provides further animations of the processes involved in mitosis. Assessment throughout the

inquiry was through a worksheet which required students to narrate correctly the steps of mitosis.

Step five in implementation required both groups to take identical assessments to assess

understanding of the concepts. The final step (step six) was a follow-up to the implementation

consisting of two focus groups

3.2 A SKETCH OF GROUP A

The students in group A were from my 1st Period Biology class. This class consisted of 34

students. Academically, this class was one of my stronger classes. Though this class was much

larger than my period 4 class, I attribute the higher scores to longer attention spans and the

prevalence of more advanced ESL students and fewer IEP students. Normally, I ran both 1st and

4th period exactly the same; however it is was 1st period that has consistently had higher

academic averages. This class consisted of approximately six IEP students and 18 ESL

students, most of whom were in their second or third year in ESL at the time of implementation.

From a management standpoint, the number of students in this packed class made this class

slightly more difficult to manage than other classes. Also, over half of the class usually arrived

late due to increased security procedures in effect before the start of the school day. As a result,

much time was wasted in the beginning of the class period as we all wait for a majority of the

class to report. Despite this however, students had longer attention spans and had a greater

ability to grasp material.

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3.3 A SKETCH OF GROUP B

Group B consisted of students in my 4th Period Biology class. This class consisted of 23

students. Because of the high percentage of IEP and ESL students in this class, this was the

more underperforming class of the two, academically. The administration normed the number of

students shortly after the pre-course survey was given, explaining the discrepancy between the

number of respondents to the surveys and those who took both pre and post tests. As a result of

the smaller class size, my aid and I are able to spend more individual time with students and less

time with classroom management. Despite this, the class tends to move slower due to the higher

prevalence of students with IEPs.

3.4 IMPLEMENTATION

3.4.1 PART I: PRE-COURSE SURVEY

A pre-course survey was administered during the first week of class (Appendix 8.1.1). Students

were asked to think about what ways they received information from a teacher. The survey

listed 12 different methods of both teacher-delivered instruction and inquiry methods. Students

were asked to choose to which methods they were previously exposed. They were then asked to

rank their selections in terms of interest level. Marking a “1” would denote no interest, a “3”

would denote neutral, and a “5” would denote most interested. Further, students were asked to

provide reasons for their responses, specifically those methods that I will be studying in this

research project. Although all students completed surveys, many students either dropped or

transferred to other classes in an attempt to norm my classroom size, hence the larger sample size

for survey completion.

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3.4.2 PART II: PRE-INSTRUCTION QUIZ

To assess previous knowledge on this topic and to have a comparison control for which to gauge

the effectiveness of the instruction, I administered a pre-instruction quiz. The quiz consisted of

12 multiple choice questions dealing with the topic of mitosis. About 1/3 of the questions asked

dealt with terminology and definitions. The majority of the quiz consisted of the processes of

mitosis and asked students to identify correctly particular steps of mitosis, as well as some of the

structures required for mitosis. These exams were graded and compared to a post-instruction

quiz. Much of this pre-instruction quiz was redundantly placed in the post-instruction quiz to

serve as a side-by-side comparison of knowledge retention and assessment of understanding.

3.4.3 PART III: DELIVERY (Instruction)

LOW-TECH DELIVERY

Instruction was delivered strictly by traditional means. No technology was used.

Students in group A were given a dispatch asking them to think about how a single cell (the

instructor, 26.2 years ago, after conception), could give rise to the multi-cellular organism that

stands in front of the class today. After a brief discussion to peak interest, students were then

asked to participate in a 30-minute traditional lecture by taking Cornell-style notes (Appendix

8.3.1). During the last 10 minutes of the class period, to help solidify their notes and make them

more concise, students were asked to complete a fill-in-the-blank worksheet (Appendix 8.3.6).

HIGH-TECH DELIVERY

Instruction was delivered using a projector and a computer equipped with PowerPoint.

Students in group B were given the same dispatch as group A. After a brief discussion to peak

student interest, students were then asked to participate in a 30-minute PowerPoint lecture by

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taking Cornell-style notes (Appendix 8.3.2-5). During the last 10 minutes of the class period,

students were also asked to complete a similar worksheet. (Appendix 8.3.6)

3.4.4 PART IV: INQUIRY ACTIVITY

To assist in students making connections between analogy and structure, both classes were

engaged in a hands-on inquiry activity.

LOW-TECH INQUIRY - Mitosis Models

Students were given the following materials: Paper plates, pipe cleaners, straws, and yarn.

Students were asked to create a BEFORE or AFTER model of each step of mitosis. Each

completed model had its own: (1) legend, telling what each material represented, (2) narrative, a

description of what is or what has happened in the picture, and (3) a title, identifying each step in

the process. To help guide their inquiry and planning, a worksheet was also completed

(Appendix 8.4.1). This worksheet was also used as a study guide for the post-instruction

assessment quiz.

HIGH-TECH INQUIRY – www.cellsalive.com/mitosis.html

Each student received a laptop and was asked to visit the Cells Alive website, a free, interactive

model of a cell undergoing mitosis. Students were asked to watch the animations between each

step. They were to draw a picture of what they saw and to describe what happened in each step.

A worksheet, similar to the one given to group A was completed to assess for understanding

(Appendix 8.4.2-3). This worksheet was also used as a study guide for the post-instruction

assessment quiz.

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My special education aid was instructed to keep careful notes regarding student engagement in

both classes as she worked very closely with a majority of the students.

3.4.5 PART V: ASSESSMENT

Finally, after two days exposure to the material, students were asked to complete a quiz. This

quiz consisted of the identical quiz questions from the pre-instruction quiz as well as another

series of similar questions based on the overall concept.

3.4.6 PART VI: FOLLOW UP FOCUS GROUPS

A week following implementation, I identified 3 students from each class who fell into any one

of these three categories:

Below Average student


Average Student
Above Average Student

The students were asked to form a discussion group while I interviewed each group as a whole.

The interviews were recorded and I asked students to be honest with their responses. The

interview questions were as follows:

(1) Were you engaged in the lecture?


(2) What do you remember about the activity in Mitosis?
(3) Where you engaged in the inquiry activity?
(4) What was your overall interest level?
(5) What aspects of the activity did you enjoy?
(6) Did it help you understand the process of Mitosis? How?
(7) What was difficult about the activity?
(8) When you were completing the quiz on Friday, were you thinking about the activity?
(9) When I ask you a question now about Mitosis, what will you think about to help you
remember?
(10) Why did you think about that?
(11) For LOW-TECH students: if we worked on the computer simulation, would you have
understood the concept better?
For HIGH-TECH students: if we worked on the mitosis models, would you have understood
the concept better?

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3.5 IMPLEMENTATION MATRIX

An overview of the process is summarized in the chart below:

I. PRE-COURSE SURVEY
GROUP A GROUP B
Type of Assessment Pre-course Survey Pre-course Survey

II. PRE-ASSESSMENT
GROUP A GROUP B
Type of Assessment Multiple Choice Quiz Multiple Choice Quiz

III. DELIVERY
GROUP A GROUP B
Type of Instruction Discussion/Lecture Discussion/Lecture
Mode of Delivery Teacher: Board work/lecture Teacher:
Animations/PowerPoint
Assessment Worksheet Worksheet
Post-lecture worksheet Post-lecture worksheet

IV. INQUIRY ACTIVITY


GROUP A GROUP B
Type of Instruction Inquiry Inquiry
Mode of Delivery Student: Manipulatives Student: Internet Website
Assessment Worksheet Worksheet
Post-activity worksheet Post-activity worksheet

V. ASSESSMENT
GROUP A GROUP B
Type of Assessment Multiple-choice and short Multiple-choice and short
answer quiz answer quiz

VI. FOLLOWUP ASSESSMENT


GROUP A GROUP B
Type of Assessment Interview (focus group) and Interview (focus group) and
“no-stakes” assessment quiz “no-stakes” assessment quiz
Students involved 1 Below Average performing 1 Below Average performing
student student
1 Average performing student 1 Average performing student
1 Above Average performing 1 Above Average performing
student student

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4.0|Data and Observations


4.1 Part I: Pre-course Survey

The results from the pre-course survey are summarized in Figures 4.1a and 4.1b and Table 4.0.

Respondents ranked their interest levels on a scale from 1 to 5. Each method was denoted by a

letter (see Table 4.0 for Method designations). Students who had not had exposure to a certain

method were asked to not rank the category and to leave it blank. Data was then collected and

entered into an MS Excel Table where averages for each category were calculated.

A Whiteboard/Chalkboard
B Overhead projectors
C Building Models (Hands-on activities)
D Verbal Call and Response
E Book Work
F Silent reading
G Work sheets
H PowerPoint
I Videos and Films
J Field Trips
K Group Presentations
L Internet
M Friends and Family who know the subject
N After School Tutoring (you and a teacher)
O Copying notes
P Labs
Q Computers
Table 4.0 Teaching Method Categories and their letter designations

Question #1:
What methods have your teachers used when you learned a new topic? Please circle all that apply.
Also, please rank which method is most interesting for you from 1—5.
Not Interesting Neutral (didn’t care) Very Interested
1 2 3 4 5
Figure 4.0 Numerical Ranking Designation from Pre-course survey (Appendix 8.1.1)

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Student A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q
A 1 1 4 1 3 5 5 3 4 4 3
B 5 1 4 1 1 1 3 5 5 5 2 5 1 1 3 4 5
C 3 4 5 5 4 5 4 5 5 5 3 5 3 1 4 4 5
D 2 5 2 5 5 5 1 5 5
E 3 3 2 4 4 5 5 2 4 3 5
F 3
G
H
I 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 5 5 3 1 1 1 1 5 5
J 2 1 5 2 1 3 1 5 5 5 5 1 5 5 5
K 3 4 5 2 3 3 4 5 5 5 1 3 3 1 4 4 4
L 3 4 2 2 3 4 4 3 3 4 2 3 4 4
N 3 3 3 3 3 3 5 1 1 1 3 3
O 2 2 5 5 3 5 2 2 3 5 3 3 2 3 3 3
P 2 3 5 5 3 2 4 3 5 5 5 5 2 5 3 3 4
Q 5 5 5 3 5
R 2 3 5 3 2 3 4 3 5 5 4 5 1 1 5 5 5
S 3 4 4 3 3 3 3 4 4 4 3 4 4 4 4
T 4 2 2 3 4 4 2
U 2 2 3 2 3 4 4 5 3 5 3 3
V 1 3 3 5 3 3 3 3 1
W 4 2 1 3 4 4 2 1 5
X 5 5 1 5 5 5 1 1 5 1 5 5 5 5
Y 2 4 2 4 5 5 5 5 4 4 5 5
Z 2 4 3 3 3 3 5 3 4 3 3 4 4
AA
AB 4 4 5 2 1 2 4 3 4 5 3 4 3 3 4
AC 3 4 3 4 4 4 4 3 3 3 5 3 4 3 4 4 3
AD 2 3 3 1 2 5 5 1 3 5
AE 3 2 2 3 4 4 5 5 3 4 3 3
AF 4 1 2 1 1 3 2 5 3 3 5 4
AG
AH 3 1 3 3 5 3 3 1 5 1 4 1 4 4
AI 4 4 4 4 4 4 5 5 5 4 5 5 5 5 5
AJ 1 2 1 4 2 4 2 4 2
AK 3 4 4 3 5 5 3 4 4 4
AL 2
AM 3 4 4 3 2 1 3 5 4 5 2 4 4 3 5 4 3
AN 1 3 2 3 3 4 2 2 3 3
AVG 2.56 2.92 4.19 3 2.53 2.9 3.41 3.38 4.3 4.67 2.81 4 2.87 2.28 3.41 3.92 4
Table 4.2 GROUP A Raw Data for Pre-course Survey (Appendix 8.1.1)

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Student A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q
A 2 1 4 1 1 1 4 5 3 2 5 5
B 3 4 3 2 2 3 4 5 5 3 4
C 1 2 3 3 2 2 2 5 5 5 1 3 1 1 3 5 5
D 3 4 3 2 1 3 2 4 5 5 2 5 5 1 3 3 5
E 1 1 4 1 1 1 1 3 5 4 2 5 2 1 2 4 5
F 1 1 3 1 1 1 1 1 5 5 1 5 1 1 1 4 5
G 1 2 3 3 1 2 1 4 5 5 5 5 4 1 5 5
H 3 2 5 1 2 4 5 3 5 5 5 2 2 3 4 5
I 2 3 4 3 1 2 4 5 5 3 3 3 5 4
J 5 4 1 2 1 4 5 3 4 2 3 5 2 3 4 4 5
K 1 1 5 1 1 1 1 4 5 5 1 5 1 5 5
L 1 1 5 1 1 1 1 2 5 5 2 5 3 1 1 5 5
N 2 2 3 3 3 1 3 4 3 5 3 4 3 3 2 5 4
O 3 2 4 1 1 2 2 4 5 5 2 5 2 1 2 4 5
P 3 3 4 1 2 5 3 2 1 4 2 3 3
Q 2 2 2 0 3 2 2
R 5 4 5 2 1 4 5 5 4 3 2 5 3 1 5 5 5
S
T 3 5 1 5 5 3 5 5 1 1 5
U 2 2 2 2 3 2 2 5 2 4 3 5
V 3 3 2 2 4 2 3 5 5 1 4 1 4
W 3 2 4 1 3 1 4 2 5 5 1 5 1 1 3 4 5
X 2 2 3 1 4 1 5 3 3 5 4 5 5 4 2 5
Y 3 2 4 1 3 1 3 5 5 4 5 1 3 4 5
Z 2 2 4 4 5 2 4 5 5 4 3 5 3 2 4 5 5
AA 1 2 1 1 1 3 3 2 4 5 2 5 5 1 1 4 5
AB 4 3 2 3 1 4 5 2 5 5 3 5 3 4 4 5 5
AC 3 1 5 3 2 3 3 3 5 5 3 5 2 1 3 4 5
AD 2 3 5 3 3 1 3 3 4 1 3 3 3 3 3 3 3
AE 5 3 4 3 5 4 5 5 3 3 3 5 5 5 5
AF 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3
AG 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3

AVG 2.52 2.38 3.68 2.07 1.97 2.36 2.67 3.4 4.28 4.25 2.57 4.57 2.91 1.76 2.72 4.19 4.57
Table 4.3 GROUP B Raw Data for Pre-course Survey (Appendix 8.1.1)

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4.1.1 Top 5 teaching methods

The top 5 methods of teaching from group A and B include (ordered from greatest interest to

least):

GROUP A GROUP B
1. Field Trips (J) 1. The Internet (L) and
2. Videos and Films (I) Computers (Q)
3. Making Models (C) 2. Videos and Films (I)
4. Internet (L) 3. Field Trips (J)
5. Computers (Q) and 4. Labs (P)
Labs (P) 5. Building Models (hands-on
activities) (C)

Table 4.1 The Top 5 Teaching Methods for both experimental groups from Pre-course survey

GROUP A: Methods of Teaching vs.


Student Interest Level

5
4.5
4
3.5
3
2.5
2
1.5
1
0.5
0
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q
Methods of Teaching

Figure 4.1a Results from Pre-course survey Methods of teaching vs. Student Interest Level. GROUP A

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GROUP B: Methods of Teaching vs. Student


Interest Level

5
4.5
4
3.5
3
2.5
2
1.5
1
0.5
0
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q
Method of Teaching

Figure 4.1b Results from Pre-course survey Methods of teaching vs. Student Interest Level. GROUP B

Method of Teaching vs. Student Interest Comparison

4.5

4
Relative Interest Level (Figure 4.0)

3.5

2.5

1.5

0.5

0
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q
Method of Teaching (Table 4.0)

Group A (Low) Group B (High)

Figure 4.1c Results from Pre-course survey Methods of teaching vs. Student Interest Level. GROUP A and B compared.

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Both classes selected the same 6 methods of instruction as their top 5 most interesting ways to

learn; the only difference between the classes was in ranking. Such correlations between the two

experimental groups imply that both classes contain the same types of students, with similar

interests. Note that none of the methods listed as their top 5 include traditional low-tech methods

of teaching. This is not to say that students are aversive towards these methods, only that they

are either more neutral or less interested in these methods than the high-tech methods.

On average, no specific type of method received anything below a 1.5 (moderately not

interesting). It would seem that students seem to accept all of these types of methods whether

they are engaging or not.

4.2 PART II: PRE-INSTRUCTION QUIZ

For the pre-instruction quiz, I asked students to attempt more than random guessing. I asked

them to think seriously about the questions and try to recall any information they might have

received from television or media regarding the topic of mitosis. This was a timed exam of 30

minutes and all students completed the quiz well within the time allotted.

The results were as follows (see Table 4.5a and 4.5b). GROUP A had an average 36% (Letter

grade: F). Students in GROUP B had an average of 38% (Letter grade: F). Both classes also had

standard deviations of 19%. This was to be expected. Students entered class with little or

below-average knowledge of the topic. Furthermore, the standard deviations for both classes

(SD=19%) showed that around 95% of students in both classes scored between 27% and 44%,

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signifying that the spread was random further implying that students knew little to nothing about

the topic.

4.3 PART III: DELIVERY

LOW-TECH GROUP A:

I asked a second pair of eyes to gauge student engagement during delivery in both classes. I

have an IEP Aid for both my classes to help assist in working with my special education

students. I asked her to take careful note on how the lectures in both classes seemed to affect

student engagement: Were students involved in the lecture? Were they asking questions? Was

the note-taking simply rote copying or were they actively engaged in the concept rather than just

the task of copying the board? Her notes were then compared to my own personal reflections for

consistency. A summary of her notes and mine are as follows:

Notes from IEP Aid


During the lecture on mitosis in which the teacher used nothing more than a white
board and marker, the students’ level of engagement was fairly low. Most of the
students’ time was spent looking down at their notebooks, taking notes. Only a few
students participated in answering questions, and even less students were asking
questions. They occasionally glanced up at the board to see what the teacher was
writing and then continued taking notes. Though it seemed they were less engaged in
the active process of learning, a majority (over 95%) of the students completed their
notes.

Personal Reflection Notes


Many students entered the classroom late as usual, a result of the security procedures
in place outside of the school for safety. After a few minutes, a majority of the class
filtered in and after the warm-up I was able to begin implementation. Two days ago, I
gave an introduction to Mitosis using the a CELL CYCLE PowerPoint presentation to
both my experimental groups. I left them hanging right after telling them about the G2
phase and alluded to cell division by asking them questions like, “Why do you think
the cell needs to duplicate its DNA during synthesis?”

One of the things I highly enjoy about my first period class is that I, as the performer-
teacher, feel extremely fresh. Although, I’m not too fond of white-board lectures, I
knew I could do more of a “performance” to my lecture than any other class of the
day. And it seemed as if I did do a great job. Students were engaged in this simple

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low-tech presentation. Facial expressions showed interest and after speaking with my
TA, I surmised that at least 95% of the students were actively engaged in (at least) the
note-taking aspect of this activity.

I never really did too well in my Systems Physiology class in college. The class was
split into three sections, and after getting below average on the first 2 exams, I thought
the final portion would be rather difficult and surely I would be doomed. On the
contrary, I did extremely well during this Muscle Physiology component. Thinking
this through, I realized that I can attribute most of it to the way that the information
was presented. This professor chose the low-tech method of presenting the lecture.
She argued clearly that this method of sequentially presenting “pieces of the story”
made it easier for student retention. I’m finding out that the white-board, low-tech
methods of delivery have this particular strength even in this context. Students are
more engaged watching the story happen than simply just looking and answering. Of
course, this is probably dependent on the classroom culture and structure, as well as
whether or not the classroom is properly managed.

In this classroom, it seemed students were engaged. Many students even asked further
deeper questions regarding why certain processes occurred, a favorable sign that they
were not simply copying out of rote. Another student, Deborah (pseudonym), the
moment the AFTER picture of Telophase was drawn out, blurted out with “o it looks
like we’re back to where we started.”

“True, you’re absolutely right Deborah…is that what Mitosis wants to do?” I
responded.

“Yup, because you start with one cell and get 2 baby cells.”
(It is important to note, however that this student is always actively vocal in my class
both in and out of the topic.)

I knew that the lesson had been adequately delivered, at least I hope so.

High-Tech Group B:

Notes from IEP Aid


In the lecture in which the teacher used Power Point, the level of engagement was
high. The students were looking up almost the entire time and they were paying close
attention to what the teacher was presenting. They seemed very interested in
understanding the subject matter, as many of the students participated in both
answering and asking question. Looking over notes to stamp for class credit, I noticed
that over 95% of the students completed their notes.

My Personal Reflection Notes


Much of the class did show up today! Students in this class are generally on time, yet
much more sluggish in comparison to period one. Period 4 is difficult for me because

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I am usually drained by 1:45pm. My “performance” as a teacher seemed limited


today as I was extremely tired.

Despite this, I began the period with the usual routine. However, for this period, all
information was delivered via PowerPoint and projected onto my whiteboard.
Students completed the dispatch and were engaged in the opening discussion of, “how
did Mr. Aguda get from this (small dot = single cell) to this (adult Mr. Aguda today)?”
Many students laughed and got excited during this brief discussion.

Students were then asked to set their notes up for the Mitosis Lecture. My PowerPoint
was designed to show a before and after picture of each stage of Mitosis. A transition
slide would provide the effects needed for an “animation-like” transition to the ‘after’
picture. After each transition, a discussion would follow that would ask students to
describe what they saw.

For some reason, I was not as excited in the delivery of this lecture. Much of the time
for delivery was spent copying the figure on the board. And since, I myself was not
drawing the picture on the board along with them, it seemed like eternity waiting for
my students to finish copying the pictures. Also, I felt like the PowerPoint was
confusing at times since I could not fit all the figures (before and after, specifically)
onto one slide. During the lecture, students asked to return to the previous figure to
copy down what components of the cell they missed. I suppose this was a positive sign
that students were engaged in following the PowerPoint.

Also from my vantage point, fewer students seemed to ask questions or provide
answers to the questions posed during the lecture.

This lecture was completed in a shorter amount of time than the low-tech lecture.
Students then completed a post-lecture worksheet identical to the one given to 1st
period.

4.4 PART IV: INQUIRY ACTIVITY

Low-Tech Group A:

Notes from IEP Aid


In the activity that required the students to create the four stages of mitosis using
Styrofoam plates and various other materials, the students were focused on merely
reproducing the picture of the cells in their notes they had taken. Almost every
student asked for my assistance. They were all asking me questions about what parts
to include in the different stages as oppose to asking me about what was happening.
They were all concerned with including the proper components of each stage but
placed little importance on the significance and role of the components. They didn’t
seem to be concerned with trying to understand what was occurring within each stage
nor with understanding the overall concept. Many of the students didn’t even bother

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with the “narrative” part of the activity, where they were asked to write an
explanation of what was happening in each stage.

Notes from my personal reflections


Many students entered class again late. The dispatch for today asked several
questions about structures within the cell undergoing Mitosis. It also asked them
about the acronym, “PMAT,” denoting each stage of Mitosis. Many students had to
file through their notes to complete the dispatch; however this is normal, especially
with fresh material.

Much time was spent in discussion to review yesterday’s material, per the request of
a female student who could not seem to find the letters “PMAT” on her notes from
yesterday.

After a 15 minute discussion that seemed engaging from my vantage point, I


proceeded with the instructions for the MITOSIS PLATE Models. Before class I
debated with myself whether or not students should be required to complete the entire
process, making a total of 4 plates. I decided that students, in order to review the
entire process of mitosis, should complete all 4 steps.

Students quickly understood the instructions and began creating their models.
Alongside creating their models, students were asked to write a narrative of what is
occurring in the cell during that particular stage of mitosis. This worksheet was
collected after the project.

Many students, it seemed, merely looked at yesterday’s worksheet and copied the
figures directly as items on a paper plate. I did not remember answering any
questions that dealt with the procedure or the narrative, only questions similar to:

Student: “What is this swirly thingy?”


Me: “It’s DNA that has not condensed yet, check your notes.”
Student: “So can I use the yarn for that?”
Me: “Why not?”
Student: “Ok, thanks…”
Me: (interjecting) “So what are you going to write in the narrative about what’s
happening on this plate?”
Student: “I dunno…”
Me: “What did I just tell you was happening?”

It seemed that students were 100% engaged in the arts and craft activity, however
they were lacking in the big picture concept of mitosis. I knew this would happen and
so I turned to asking students questions about the process of mitosis. This took time,
and many students seemed antsy wanting just the answer so that they could complete
their assignment.

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Time ran out quickly, though many students completed more than half of the
assignment. I asked the students to take their worksheets home as means of
studying…I had purposed for them to have written a narrative before they would
begin the assignment, so that what would be brought home could be used for
studying. However, upon dismissal it seemed that many students did not complete the
worksheet portion of the assignment.

High-Tech Group B:

Notes from IEP Aid


During the activity in which the students were given laptops and directed to an internet
website, the students’ attention seemed to be captivated by the animations. As the students
were analyzing the animations of the cells during different stages of mitosis, they were
making attempts to interpret them. They would then ask me if their interpretations were
correct. The students seemed to be getting a clearer understanding of stages as well as the
overall process.

My personal reflections

Today period 4 looked excited when they saw “Laptops” on the agenda.

“Mr. Aguda, could we check Myspace?”

“No, we’ll be exploring Mitosis on the computer!”

“O, ok…like what we learned yesterday?”

“Yup”

It took a long time to get started, mainly because students had a hard time working
with the Macintosh computers. From an informal discussion, it became apparent that
many students use PCs at home. After 15-20 minutes of getting students started up,
they began their exploration of www.cellsalive.com. The room was pretty quiet as
students explored the website.

20 minutes into the activity, there was still silence as students were completing their
worksheet! 100% participation! Wow! By this time however, students were asking
questions regarding what to copy down. I told students to observe and watch and
then write only what you observed. Many students did just that.

A number of students finished quickly. I asked them if they understood mitosis. Of


course they said yes, but I doubt that they only rushed through the assignment to
complete it.

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Unlike the previous class, students did not ask many structural questions; rather they
asked questions that were based on the concept.

For example, “Mr. Aguda, it looks like the chromosomes are moving here, but I
notice that that happens after this phase.”

It would seem from my observations that students were generally involved in piecing
together a story.

By the end of the period, many students had completed their worksheets and had an
adequate study sheet for tomorrow’s assessment.

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Activity Group Engaged? Discussions Assignment


completed?
Delivery A Minimal to Yes, Minimal Yes
(Lecture) students busy involvement
completing/copying
notes
Inquiry A Yes, students were Questions All did not
Assignment actively engage in regarding complete the
Low-Tech the assignment structure and worksheet.
Delivery analogy, not
function
Delivery B Yes, students were Questions Yes
(Lecture) busy copying regarding
figures, but were structure and
looking up most of function.
the time
Inquiry B Yes, 100% Questions Yes
Assignment participation in the regarding
High-Tech activity. structure and
Delivery function.
Table 4.4a. Observations during Delivery and Inquiry Activity. Observation notes were collected from IEP and Teacher. They were
compared against one another for consistency, summarized and tabulated.

4.5 PART V: Assessment

Implementation day 3 was an assessment examination for the content that had just been

delivered. The scores for both classes compared with their pre-test scores are shown in tables

4.5.1-4.5.2 below.

All students completed the examination within the time allotted (35 minutes). Notes were not

allowed during the examination and all responses were bubbled into a scantron sheet.

4.5.1 GROUP A Results

For GROUP A, students scored an average of 50% on the post test. Though this is still an F-

average for the class, students did show significant improvement when compared with their

average for the pre-test (% change = +14%). Students in GROUP A had a wide spread standard

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deviation of 22%, much larger than the spread during the pre-test, denoting perhaps random

guessing.

4.5.2 GROUP B Results

For GROUP B, students scored an average of 55% on the post test. This is also an F-average for

the class, however students did show significant improvement when compared with their average

for the pre-test (% change = +16%). Students in GROUP B also had a wide spread standard

deviation of 22%, much larger than the spread during the pre-test, also denoting perhaps random

guessing.

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Student RAW1 Pretest RAW2 Post %Change


1
2 4 33% 20 71% 38%
3
4 8 29%
5 3 25% 14.5 52% 27%
6 3 25% 9.5 34% 9%
7 6 50% 21 75% 25%
8 6 21%
9 1 8% 19 68% 60%
10 3 25% 7 25% 0%
11 6 50% 8.5 30% -20%
12 7 58% 21 75% 17%
13 18 64%
14 5 42% 8 29% -13%
15 2 17% 7 25% 8%
16 1 8% 6 21% 13%
17 3 25%
18
19 6 50% 22 79% 29%
20
21
22
23 2 17% 7 25% 8%
24 2 17% 16.5 59% 42%
25 6 50% 11.5 41% -9%
26 2 17% 3 11% -6%
27 9 75% 22 79% 4%
28 4 33% 15 54% 20%
29 9 75% 14 50% -25%
30 5 42% 19 68% 26%
31 6 50% 21.5 77% 27%
32 3 25% 10 36% 11%
33 2 17% 10 36% 19%
34 19.5 70%
35 3 25%
36 6 50% 18 64% 14%
37 7 58% 23.5 84% 26%
38 4 33% 11.5 41% 8%
39 4 33% 18.5 63% 29%
AVG 4.28 36% 14.03 50% 14%
STD DEV 0.19 19% 6.18 22% 19%
Table 4.5a. Comparison results from PRE-INSTRUCTION QUIZ and POST-INSTRUCTION QUIZ. GROUP A (RAW1: Raw scores for
pretest; Pretest: % score for pretest; RAW2: Raw scores for post-test; Post: % for post-test; %change: +/- change for student between pre-test
and post-test)

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UCLA TEP Inquiry Project Theory to Practice
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Student RAW1 Pretest RAW2 Post % Change


1
2
3 2 17% 14.5 52% 35%
4 6 50% 25 89% 39%
5 7 58% 9 32% -26%
6 1 8%
7 3 25% 18 64% 39%
8 6 50%
9 9 75% 18.5 66% -9%
10 4 33% 11 39% 6%
11
12 7 58% 20 71% 13%
13 3 25%
14 5 42% 17 61% 19%
15 10 36%
16 4 33% 15.5 55% 22%
17 5 42% 13.5 48% 7%
18 2 17% 11 39% 23%
19 1 8%
20 5 42% 17 61% 19%
21 2 17% 11 39% 23%
22 7 58%
23
24 5 42%
25
26
27 7 58%
28
29
30 4 33%
31
32
33 21.5 77%
34
AVG 4.524 38% 15.5 55% 16%
STD DEV 0.187 19% 4.6637 17% 19%
Table 4.5b. Comparison results from PRE-INSTRUCTION QUIZ and POST-INSTRUCTION QUIZ. GROUP B (RAW1: Raw scores for
pretest; Pretest: % score for pretest; RAW2: Raw scores for post-test; Post: % for post-test; %change: +/- change for student between pre-test
and post-test)

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Post Test Scores

60%

50%

40%

Group A
30%
Group B

20%

10%

0%
PRE POST %change

Figure 4.5c. Comparison results from PRE-INSTRUCTION QUIZ and POST-INSTRUCTION QUIZ. GROUPS A and B.

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UCLA TEP Inquiry Project Theory to Practice
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4.6 PART VI: Follow-up Focus Groups

One week after implementation, follow-up interviews were conducted with two Focus Groups as

described in the Inquiry Process Section. Student Key is as follows:

Student A: High-performing student from HI TECH CLASS


Student B: average-performing student from HI TECH CLASS
Student C: Low-performing student from HI TECH CLASS
Student D: Low-performing student from LOW-TECH CLASS
Student E: Average-performing student from LOW-TECH CLASS
Student F: High-performing student from LOW-TECH CLASS

Transcribed comments of student interviews can be found in the following section. A summary

of pertinent questions and answers are shown in the table below.

GROUP A (LOW) GROUP B (HIGH)


Were you engaged in the Yes Yes
lecture?
Where you engaged in the Yes Yes
inquiry activity?
What was your overall Med to High High
interest level?
When you took the quiz, The PMAT handout The Computer Activity +
what did you think about or PMAT handout
remember?
Which method would you The Arts and Crafts The Internet/PowerPoint
enjoy better? Activity
Table 4.6. Follow-up Focus Group Interviews. General response to student focus group questions.

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5.0|Interpretations and Implications


5.1 DOES POWERPOINT AND MULTIMEDIA TECHNOLOGY HELP IN
STUDENT ENGAGEMENT?

5.1.1 Note-Taking and Discussion during Implementation and Delivery Day

In comparing notes between my aid and I, and reviewing student notebooks as well as

monitoring student’s work with the inquiry assignment, a common thread emerged. Many

students were engaged in the delivery of the material, whether High-tech or Low-Tech. Nearly

all students were actively taking notes. Upon stamping each note page for completion, over 95%

of students had adequate, accurate notes of each step of Mitosis. Drawings and illustrations were

accurate. Students copied the board or PowerPoint presentation verbatim.

All things being equal, Note-taking is perhaps the lowest of Bloom’s Taxonomy. Students who

are taking notes are simply copying information. Whether or not this is delivered in a high-tech

or low-tech method, students automatically seem to have no problems copying notes. Students

can choose to be engaged in the material while completing their notes, however, according to

Consuelo, a student from group B:

“The mitosis lecture with the PowerPoint was cool. It was easy to
copy and follow and big enough for I could see it. What was difficult
about this was the fact that I had to draw a lot and I didn’t know what
some of the parts of the cell were doing.”

Much of the engagement in the delivery of information was due simply to rote copying. This is

unfortunate and, while I try my best to engage students throughout the lecture by asking

questions and reiterating important parts of the concept, I cannot insure that all students are

synthesizing information while taking notes. Another common thread emerged in classrooms

like these is that the same students answer questions. Though, as recorded in our notes above,

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many more GROUP B students actively answered questions than group A, however it was the

same group of students involved in the discussion.

5.1.2 Scientific Inquiry Assignment

The inquiry activity in this instructional component was designed to help solidify the concept of

Mitosis. Both students in GROUP A as well as GROUP B, as described in the observation notes

from both myself and my IEP Aid, seemed to be actively engaged in the activity. This is an

obvious reaction to any activity which provides students the outlet to either be creative (GROUP

A: Arts and Crafts) or work with computers (GROUP B: Internet). Students always seem to

enjoy shifts in teaching methodology. Students jumped at the fact that they were to do arts and

crafts. In addition, students’ eyes broadened when they read “3. Laptop Mitosis Lab” on the

agenda for the day.

Low-Tech. During the follow-up interview with the focus group from GROUP A, students

expressed a general enjoyment with the activity.

Teacher: Do you remember the activity we did


for mitosis? What did you like about that
activity?

Student D: I thought it was alright, pretty


good. Figuring out how you can shape it and
which materials you wanna use…like straws, or
string, how you want to shape it

Teacher: What did you like about it?

Student E: It was fun and hands on. We took a


lot of notes the day before and it was
something else to do.

Teacher: Just something else to do?

Student E: yeah, well it was fun like arts and


crafts.

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UCLA TEP Inquiry Project Theory to Practice
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Student F: Because, like all we had to do was


make paper plates look like your cells.

During the follow-up interview with the focus group from GROUP A, students expressed a

general enjoyment with the activity.

High-tech. During the follow-up interview with students from GROUP B, it was expressed that

they were actively engaged in the activity for three main reasons:

(1) Vibrant, simplified pictures. Students noted that the pictures on the cellsalive.com website

were vibrant, yet simplified so that the main concept of mitosis could be remembered. The

website also compared the real cell with the cartoon version of the process.

Teacher: This question is for both of you: How was


that particular website helpful in showing you the
entire process of mitosis?”

Student A: Because it shows you when it


forms…because I’m like the type of person that I
need pictures…so I need pictures like up on the
board so I can understand it better.

Teacher: So you like it when I draw it on the board?

Student A: Yeah, but like right there on the website


it’s better because it looks like its showing you in
three dimensions, the pictures are better.”

Teacher: What else helped you in the animations?

Student B: Also because in the computer it shows you


a cartoon form, and like there’s a little box where
there’s the real cell and chromosome.

Student A: Yeah it would be confusing if we just saw


the real thing…like your real cells.

(2) Personal Interaction lowers the affective filter. The high-tech inquiry project helped students

to teach themselves the concept without the fear of having to ask a question and interrupt class.

Student A:…and right there it’s like if you don’t


get it you could go back and push the ‘next’ and

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keep going back. And here (on the board) when we ask
you to go back, it’s harder because it gets
confusing. But on the computer, it’s less confusing
because we can go back on our own. And, we won’t
confuse the whole class. Because if you don’t get
it, you push on your computer and you can just see
it again…so we’re not embarrassed to ask questions.

Both students were engaged with the inherent interactivity provided by this website. Students

were able to explore the cell and the mitosis cycle on their own initiative without the fear of

missing information and interrupting the whole class during a lecture. This is, in essence

lowering the affective filter to allow for learning to occur.

During the inquiry activity students were definitely engaged in completing the worksheet. A

large percentage of the students which I helped in the inquiry were students who never raise their

hands during a whole-class discussion.

(3) Detailed animations. Students were engaged because of the nature of the animations.

Student A: Well you’re actually watching it split.

Teacher: So it’s moving?

Student A: Yeah, it’s like a movie, it’s


interesting. It makes you pay attention to what
you’re watching. Not like when you’re writing on the
board and talking…it’s not like that. It’s like
you’re looking at a movie—it catches your eye.

The students interviewed mentioned that the reason for their interest and engagement was that

the pictures moved. Students are naturally inclined to watching animations and moving pictures.

When asked what kinds of movies peaked their interest they mentioned:

Student B: I don’t watch a lot of TV, but I like


movies with a lot of special effects.

Student A: yeah me too. It’s just cool to watch


and it kept my attention so that I could learn.

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Comparison between groups:

A question on a dispatch was asked as a follow-up to the instructional component: “If there could

be a better way to teach this lesson (remember the survey I gave you at the beginning of the

quarter), which way would’ve been better and why?”

“I wouldn’t change anything Mr. Aguda. You taught just fine. I liked the
lecture, because you made it fun. I also like making the cells out of paper
plates, it wasn’t boring.”
Female Student, Group A

“I wouldn’t change the activity. I liked it because it was fun and easy.”
Male Student, Group A

“The computers were cool. I liked how they pictures moved. I wouldn’t change
a thing.”
Male Student, Group B

“I think Mitosis was better to understand when we used the computers. I liked
it, don’t change anything!”
Male Student, Group B

A majority of the responses in each group expressed their enjoyment of their group’s particular

method of teaching. Only two other students suggested other activities that they had experienced

in other classes: a Mitosis Flipbook and building mitosis models out of trash found outside to

help alleviate the litter in the environment. After I collected these dispatches, I informed the

students of the differences in instruction between both groups. From an informal discussion,

many students still seemed content with having completed the component using their period’s

method of delivery.

Engagement comes quickly with students who are eager to learn and from teachers who are

eager to teach.

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5.2 DOES POWERPOINT/MULTIMEDIA AFFECT A STUDENT’S OVERALL


UNDERSTANDING OF THE CONCEPT?

5.2.1 Assessment during Delivery

In-class discussion. It was difficult to assess understanding simply by asking questions during

the lecture. Though students seemed engaged in the note-taking, I could not gauge whether or

not they adequately understood the concept. Even the students who answered the questions

seemed not to have a complete grasp of the concept.

During lecture in both groups, I pointed at the spindle fiber numerous times and asked students

to name the structure as well as to tell its function as it relates to Mitosis. Numerous times, even

after delivery of the information, I had to coach them to provide the correct answer.

To both classes, I provided the analogy of Spindle fibers being similar to Spider Man’s spider

webs. I assumed this would make it easier for students to understand the function of the fibers.

However the following day, many students still had difficulty responding to the dispatch

question, “What is the purpose and function of the spindle fibers during mitosis?”

Notes. As discussed above, all students from both groups had taken adequate notes. Please see

example notes from a low-performing student and a high-performing student in the Appendix.

The Inquiry. Low-Tech:

They were all asking me questions about what parts to include in the
different stages as oppose to asking me about what was happening. They
were all concerned with including the proper components of each stage
but placed little importance on the significance and role of the
components. They didn’t seem to be concerned with trying to understand
what was occurring within each stage nor with understanding the overall
concept. – IEP Aid

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It seemed that students were 100% engaged in the arts and craft
activity, however they were lacking in the big picture concept of
mitosis. I knew this would happen and so I turned to asking students
questions about the process of mitosis. This took time, and many
students seemed antsy wanting just the answer so that they could
complete their assignment. – My reflection

Students from GROUP A seemed to be more concerned with the structure of the cell model

rather than the process itself. This was assessed simply by the fact that the majority of the

students’ questions were regarding what each material should represent. Apparently, during the

inquiry students were busy piecing together a cohesive analogy between common materials used

in arts and crafts and the actual process of mitosis which occurs in a real cell. This was also

apparent in the fact that most students did not complete the narrative portion of the worksheet.

Approximately 15% of the students turned in their worksheets, the rest of the students took their

worksheets home to complete them. Note that these worksheets were not intended to be done for

homework, but to assess whether or not students had conceptual knowledge of Mitosis, not

simply structural knowledge.

Teacher: Did it help you understand the entire


process of mitosis?

Student D: In some way…mostly the shapes.

Teacher: The shapes, so when you were making


your paper plates, what were you thinking of?

Student D: Mainly what colors, I thought about


what the straw should be.

Teacher: How did you know what the plate should


look like, what did you think about?

Student: I was thinking about the mitosis


handout sheet

Teacher: So you copied from the handout sheet?

Student D: Yeah.

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Teacher: Did you finish the worksheet?

Student D: No, I was mainly trying to finish


the plates.

According to this student, the primary task to complete was to finish the plate models. Like most

of his class, he did not complete the worksheet that was provided to assist students in recalling

concept and process along with structure. Instead, much of his time and resources was spent

building the model and making connections between the analogy and the structure. When asked

about what he thought about during the post-instruction quiz he responded with:

Student C: I really didn’t think about the


activity. I mostly thought about PMAT.

Another student from group A had similar sentiments during the post-instruction quiz:

Student E: The activity didn’t help me during


the test because some of the test questions
asked about what those things—the parts like
the—what are those things when I used the
pipe-cleaner things?

Student C: (answering) Chromosomes?

Student E: Yeah that, when I did the


activity, I was just making sure I made the
paper plate look like yours, Mr. Aguda. So I
didn’t know what was happening to those
things…

It would seem that the hands-on activity designed to help them make connections between

concepts and analogy provided little assistance to their recall of the process. Most students seem

to remember what the pictures looked like, however they could not reproduce a coherent “story”

of what was really going on in Mitosis.

When I asked students from GROUP B regarding whether or not they would have learned if they

participated in the paper plate activity they responded with:

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Student B: No, I don’t think I would have


learned better because I would be focused on
making the arts and crafts. Yeah it would be
fun, but I would just be making a model and I
don’t get to see it happen.

It would seem that a thorough grasp of the concept and process of mitosis could be lost within

the effort of making a model. This is obvious, since much of the resources of a student are

filtered into making a product rather than learning a concept. Students are able to hone their

skills in arts and crafts while subconsciously putting the “process of mitosis” on the wayside,

even when reminded that they would be quizzed on the lecture, not the activity.

After the activity during the following day, the students were asked to complete a dispatch that

was to assess understanding both structure and concept. One of the questions asked was “Draw

the before picture for Prophase.” Many students drew the after picture assuming that the

picture that was shown on the board and the model that they had completed was the before

picture. The discussion that ensued after the dispatch also made it clear that students many

students made no distinction between before and after pictures, that something was indeed

happening to the cell during a particular phase.

The Inquiry. High-tech:

During the activity in which the students were given laptops and
directed to an internet website, the students’ attention seemed to be
captivated by the animations. As the students were analyzing the
animations of the cells during different stages of mitosis, they were
making attempts to interpret them. They would then ask me if their
interpretations were correct. The students seemed to be getting a
clearer understanding of stages as well as the overall process. – IEP
Aid

This group spent most of its resources completing the worksheet as they interacted with the

internet website. Since nothing was being built, students spent their time figuring out what was

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really going on. Students like Students A and B below enjoyed the fact that they were able to

explore on their own initiative.

Student B: When we did that project on the computer,


I played it at least twice for each step. So
like…the next time (tomorrow) I could remember…

Student A:…and right there it’s like if you don’t


get it you could go back and push the ‘next’ and
keep going back. And here (on the board) when we ask
you to go back, it’s harder because it gets
confusing. But on the computer, it’s less confusing
because we can go back on our own. And, we won’t
confuse the whole class. Because if you don’t get
it, you push on your computer and you can just see
it again…so we’re not embarrassed to ask questions.

Teacher: so you can explore on your own?

Student B: yeah, like when I didn’t understand it


the first time, I could just hit play again…over and
over again.

Teacher: So what did you do first if you didn’t know


what was going on?

Student A: like I made sure to watch the movie a


couple of times before I raised my hand…besides, Mr.
Aguda you told me to watch the movie last time I
asked a question to you.

As a result of this interactivity, students were focused on the task—specifically the concept of

Mitosis. Further, 99% of the students in the class completed their worksheets and as a result, had

a complete picture of mitosis on paper on which to study from.

Teacher: If I were to ask you a question now about


mitosis, what would you be thinking about?

Student B: PMAT.

Student A: Yeah PMAT

Teacher: Why not the activity?

Student A: Well, yeah the activity too…but PMAT


helps me remember the steps better.

Teacher: Helps you remember their order?

Student B: Yeah

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Student A: Yeah

Teacher: Ok, how about if I were to ask you to draw


for me what happens to the chromosomes in between
Prophase and Metaphase, what would you use to
remember?

Student B: Yeah I would remember the activity for


that one because of the motions.

Also, because of the level of engagement, students were able to recall specifics of their activity,

whereas the students, who completed the 2-dimensional, static paper plate model, did not have

such detailed recall.

Test Scores. The results of the post-test were rather surprising and inconsistent with my

hypothesis that students in the high-tech group would understand the concept better. According

to the data in Table 4.5a and 4.5b, the results of the post tests for both classes were similar.

Group A students scored an average of 50% in the post-test, while Group B students scored an

average of 55%, with standard deviations of 17% and 22%, respectively. I expected a higher

average for GROUP B students because of their high-tech experience. Also, in the light of the

follow-up interviews, since students from GROUP B seemed more engaged and able to grasp

conceptual knowledge far beyond the students in GROUP A, it would be expected that they

perform much better. However, they scored an average of only 5% higher than GROUP A

students. Also, the standard deviation for GROUP A and B are quite large, implying a wide

distribution of scores for both classes. These students perhaps did not yet have a firm grasp of

the concepts.

Despite the spread of scores, students did improve in both classes (see figure 4.5c). The percent

change between the pre and post tests for both classes were similar, implying that

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implementation did facilitate learning in both groups. Students from GROUP A had a +14%

change with a standard deviation of 19%, while students from GROUP B had a +16% change

with a standard deviation of 19%. The high standard deviations do however imply that this may

be due to random chance and that students not yet having mastered the topic of mitosis.

Recall during post-test.

During the student focus groups, students answered the following two questions designed to

provide basis for their recall methods during the exam.

(a) When you were completing the quiz on Friday, were you thinking about the activity?
(b) When I ask you a question now about Mitosis, what will you think about to help you
remember?

All three students from FOCUS GROUP A stated that they recalled only the lecture handout

given after the initial delivery of information.

Student F: PMAT too, but I was trying to think of


the pictures on the handout

Student E: Yeah, me too.

Student D: Yeah, the handout was very important.


That’s what I remembered.

Students from FOCUS GROUP B also stated that they recalled the lecture handout, but they

mentioned that they were assisted by remembering animations.

Student A: PMAT and that handout-but when the


questions asked about where are things moving, I
tried to remember the movies. I tried…but I don’t
know if I totally remembered

Student C: The computers helped

Student B: I remember how they moved. But I thought


the biggest help was the handout.

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6.0|Inquiry Conclusions
6.1 Students are media-savvy and can therefore be more engaged in this relevant
form of presentation of an abstract concept.

The results from the pre-course survey showed definitely that students in the urban context of

Los Angeles are media-affected—they can and will be engaged by the content if the content is

made relevant and accessible to them. Both focus groups expressed their interest in the topic of

mitosis especially when the content was engaging. Multimedia has a way of making the content

more engaging because it is relevant to the student. Focus group B expressed specific

engagement to the inquiry activity because, “…it’s like a movie, it’s interesting.” Students

equate animation and interactivity to their own use of television and internet at home on a daily

basis. Further, of the top five methods of teaching deemed most interesting by students in both

groups, three of these methods involved multimedia, while the other two involved engagement

by hands-on activity.

6.2 “Engagement” is a relative term.

It became apparent during our observations that the word “engagement” is a relative term. In

order to qualify “engagement,” an adequate definition of the term is needed. Does engagement

simply mean that students are doing their work and following directions? Or does engagement

also encompass a student’s wrestling with the content so as to progress him or her up Bloom’s

ladder of cognitive prowess? If it is simply the former, students in my class are all generally

engaged.

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6.3 Engagement and the “Pedagogy of Poverty”

However, when faced with Haberman’s ideas of the Pedagogy of Poverty, students in the urban

context will always be engaged because that is what they have been trained to do. This problem

seems to be systemic in the Urban context and is consistent with Haberman’s theory that students

in the Urban context have been so inundated with the “task” of being a student, that the concept

of the content is being lost in the effort to be on task.

In addition, Haberman says that “students in urban schools overwhelmingly do accept the

pedagogy of poverty, and they do work at it!” (Haberman, 1997) Though students are not as

interested in Book Work when compared to Internet access, they do not all dismiss it as ‘not

interesting.’ This is personified by Sarah, a student in my 1st period class. One week prior to

implementation, my first period class became slightly unruly. I presented the class with two

choices: (1) continue being loud during the lecture and we can stop and do Book Work or (2)

settle down so that we can get to the activity after the lecture. With resiliency she retorted with,

“Let’s do book work!” A few students nodded in agreement and the class started laughing.

Though this was meant as a joke, I believe that at least some of the sentiment contains truth.

Many students wouldn’t really mind to do book work, if it meant that doing the work would get

them a grade for the day. When asked later why she said that, Sarah responded with, “all the

teachers give it to us anyway, and it’s easy.” She had bought into this pedagogy of poverty.

6.4 Technology presents content in a relevant manner

If the definition of “engagement” is broadened to include a student’s engagement with the

content then my data suggests that students who had exposure to the high-tech presentation of

content had the best, front-row seats to an experience with the curriculum. Students from focus

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group B all agreed that the use of the PowerPoint and the Internet were engaging because they

were relevant sources of information. Students from both group A and group B interacted with

media on a daily basis. It follows that from this notion students are naturally inclined to be

engaged in technology. From the notes and observation that were collected during delivery and

lecture, a large majority of the class spent their time first analyzing the pictures and then taking

notes. During the inquiry activity, focus group B students all mentioned that they were engaged

in the activity because they were able to interact with it. Further, like the Hong Kong study

described in the Secondary Sources section, students were able to explore the cell on their own

initiative, mimicking the actions of a real-life researcher studying mitosis. Students were able to

teach themselves the content. Further there was much conversation between neighboring

students about content rather than structure and analogy (as was the case in the Low-tech

inquiry). A majority of the class (over 95%) of the students were engaged in the activity. Nearly

half of those students interacted with one another regarding the content in a context of

community.

6.5 Multimedia technology helps students make better connections between


structure and concept.
Student A: Yeah, but like right there on the website
it’s better because it looks like its showing you in
three dimensions, the pictures are better.”

A majority of my students, though inundated with media while some being computer savvy, are

not spatial learners and require analogies to facilitate understanding. The PowerPoint

presentation paired with the Internet-based inquiry allowed students who were lacking in spatial

intelligence, to be able to have access to the content in another form. Not only were they able to

see it in a two-dimensional image, but they were also able to virtually manipulate it in a virtual

three-dimensional space.

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6.6 Assessment and follow-up

Both students from GROUP A and GROUP B seemed to have difficulty in recalling according to

the test scores. Though there was improvement in both classes, no class had high enough

averages to constitute a passing grade. Despite this, according to students in focus GROUP B,

both the high-tech inquiry activity and the lecture handout were instrumental in their recall

efforts. In addition, the students in focus GROUP A agreed stated that their low-tech inquiry

activity played little to no role in helping them recall the concept on the quiz.

The concluding quiz was designed to test for recall of simple structural facts as well as to test

specifically whether or not students had an adequate story of the concept of Mitosis. From the

test scores, it would seem that student still did not have an adequate understanding of the concept

of mitosis even if they had been engaged by the technology. Three reasons perhaps account for

the low test scores:

(1) Students did not have enough time to adequately process the content. Implementation

consisted of a total of three days. Students were required to assimilate a series of structural facts

as well as concepts in a short period of time. Much of the time was spent seeing or experiencing

the material for the first time. Very little time was given for students to adequately grapple with

the concept.

(2) The assessment method was inadequate. The post-instruction quiz was almost completely

multiple-choice. Some of the questions had been badly worded leaving room for ambiguities

especially for some of my ESL students. Multiple choice tests, in my opinion, do not adequately

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provide a true picture of students’ understanding of the question. During follow-up interviews, a

low performing student was asked to quickly name the steps of mitosis. She was successful in

demonstrating what happens in mitosis. However, her test scores show that she understood very

little.

(3) My lecturing style and differences in delivery and inquiry methods. Furthermore, students

were engaged in the lecture and delivery whether or not they received the low-tech delivery or

the high-tech delivery. I would attribute a majority of this to my own lecturing style. I am

generally up-beat and vibrant during a lecture. This has been a welcome sight to many of my

students who have to endure another lecture on what could be an un-engaging topic. Many

students both in the past and at present have mentioned that they enjoy my class because “you

make your lectures fun.” In my own style of teaching, PowerPoint is a supplement to this up-

beat lecture environment. My observations show that students were just as engaged in this form

of the lecture as the students in my high-tech class. As in all cases, well-planned and developed

lectures can be made engaging whether or not they are shown through a digital projector or

written on the board.

From my observations, students in group A may have perhaps had a better experience with the

lecture material than group B, especially due to their line of questioning and the limited

discussions that ensued. They seemed to have followed the lecture well and benefited from the

way the information was presented piece-by-piece as I drew it along the board with them.

Students in group B were also engaged. According to the observations received from my IEP

Aid, these students were observed to be paying close attention to the pictures and asking specific

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questions about these pictures. However from helping students work the review worksheet

(Appendix 8.3.6) immediately after the lecture, it seemed students were still confused about the

concept.

Thankfully, the high-tech activity helped create opportunities for students in Group B to re-learn

and make adequate adjustments to their own mental abstractions about mitosis. Unfortunately,

for Group A, the opposite was the case. Students were more interested in the arts and crafts

assignment rather than the concept of mitosis.

Both classes did similarly in the assessment quiz. It may be possible that the effects of the

abovementioned discussions account for the similarities in the quiz scores. However, despite the

inconsistencies between the quantitative and qualitative data in light of the test scores, my data

shows that multimedia technology positively affects students’ learning, specifically in the realm

of engagement. Students seem to be more engaged and find the content more relevant to the

culture that they view with their eyes. I intend to continue to use technology as a primary mode

of delivery in my classroom.

6.7 Implications to the teaching practice

Social Justice. The use of multimedia technology makes content accessible to students of color

in the inner city. It brings the technology found in universities and affluent contexts to students

of low-income, low-resourced areas who are also subjected to the mastery of the same standards.

It levels the playing field in a media-savvy world. We want a society of individuals who have

the skills necessary to keep up with the technologically-advanced society we live in today. Who

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will advocate for students in the inner city? Teachers can not only engage students with the

content when technology is in the classroom, but also help spark interest in high-tech avenues

beyond the classroom.

Student Engagement with curriculum. As discussed above, student engagement was enhanced

using multimedia technology and internet. Students of the information age are naturally engaged

to technology and multimedia. Group B students were engaged in both content and activity as

they were able complete the task while making the appropriate connections to content. In the

low-tech classroom represented here, students found the task engaging however they did not

make adequate connections between content and the activity.

Multiple Forms of Delivery. Teachers who primarily use low-tech teaching strategies can present

information in multiple ways. Students who possess less logical and mathematical or spatial

intelligences can benefit from presentation of information in other forms such as PowerPoint and

white and black-board lectures.

Inquiry. Characteristic of the “inquiry-based-instruction” model is the ability for students to

explore on one’s own initiative. The use of internet technology and high-tech simulations

provides the student with the ability to explore, in this case, the cell as it undergoes its mitotic

divisions. Granted, this can be done in a wet-lab at relative expense or by watching a film of a

cell undergoing mitosis. However, these methods, though visual, do not offer the student with

the ability to rewind, play, backtrack, or skip steps in the process. Students can, on their own,

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and without the teacher’s or class’ permission, explore further teaching themselves the content

without fear of having to slow the entire class down.

The Future of Multimedia and Teaching. In order for content to be relevant and engaging,

teachers must begin to incorporate high-tech instructional methods into their teaching. Teachers

and school districts alike are realizing the power of multimedia technology. Since the

completion of this research paper, I have learned that our school district has provided a budget

for multimedia projectors and smartboards in each classroom, beginning with science. Though

traditional methods of instruction may not become obsolete in the near future, it behooves each

teacher to acquire the skills necessary to provide multimedia in their classroom.

Other implications. The effectiveness of content retention in the long-run remains yet to be

explored. Does multimedia technology help students recall facts and information when asked

two or three years from first exposure? In my experience with traditional teaching methods, the

recollection of facts from my Sophomore Biology class was limited when I graduated from high

school. Further, students in my own biology class have difficulty recalling information one week

after exposure. Can multimedia technology facilitate long-term recall in the same way students

recall other forms of media? Students seem to recall images and facts from movies and

television shows that they experienced years before.

Multimedia remains a frontier in education yet untapped by the urban classroom. In a struggle to

be relevant and engaging to a media-savvy generation, multimedia has shown to meet these

needs.

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8.0|References
Baxter, G. P. (1995). Using computer simulations to assess hands-on science learning.
Journal of Science Education and Technology, 4(1), 21-28.

Bloom B. S. (1956). Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, Handbook I: The Cognitive Domain.


New York: David McKay Co Inc.

Brumbaugh, Andrea. (2001). The Copernican Plan: Changing the School Schedule. Retrieved
April 23, 2006, from School Renewal Web center
Web site:http://www.schoolrenewal.org/strategies/i-4x4-ab.html

Gentner, D. (1983), Structure Mapping: A Theoretical Framework for Analogy. Cognitive


Science, 7, 1983.

Krashen, Stephen D. (2006) Principles and Practice in Second Language Acquisition. Prentice-
Hall International, 1987. Retrieved April 21, 2006. Website: http://www.sk.com.br/sk-krash.html

Haberman, M. (1991). The Pedagogy of Poverty Versus Good Teaching. Phi Delta Kappan. Dec
1991, 290-293.

Hsiao, Jy Wana Daphne L. (n.l.) Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning . Retrieved March


22, 2006, from University of Texas Department of Education.
Website: http://www.edb.utexas.edu/csclstudent/Dhsiao/theories.html

Valencia, Richard. (1997). Conceptualizing the notion of defict thinking. In R. Valencia (ed.)
The evolution of deficit thinking (pp. 1-12). London: Falmer Press.

Veenema, S., Gardner, H. (1996), "Multimedia and Multiple Intelligences," The American
Prospect vol. 7 no. 29, November 1, 1996 - December 1, 1996.
Website: http://www.prospect.org/print/V7/29/veenema-s.html

Yan Yueng, Yun, et. al. (n.l.). Using the Internet for Education: Training for Student-Teachers.
Retrieved March 23, 2006, from Hong Kong Institute of Education.
Website: http://www.ied.edu.hk/has/webauth/4hkws/

US Census Data (2000). Retrieved April 26, 2006 from US Census Website.
Website: http://www.census.gov.

US Department of Education (2006). The Smaller Learning Communities Program. Retrieved


April 22, 2006 from US Department of Education Website. Website:
http://www.ed.gov/programs/slcp/index.html

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8.0|Appendices

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8.1.1 PART I: PRE-COURSE TECHNOLOGY SURVEY (page 1 of 2)

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8.1.2 PART I: PRE-COURSE TECHNOLOGY SURVEY (page 2 of 2)

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8.2.1 PART II: PRE-INSTRUCTION MITOSIS QUIZ (page 1 of 1)

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8.3.1 PART III: DELIVERY LECTURE (LOW-TECH) teacher notes (page 1 of 1)

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8.3.2 PART III: DELIVERY LECTURE (HIGH-TECH) teacher notes (page 1 of 3)

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8.3.3 PART III: DELIVERY LECTURE (HIGH-TECH) teacher notes (page 1 of 3)

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8.3.4 PART III: DELIVERY LECTURE (HIGH-TECH) teacher notes (page 2 of 3)

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8.3.5 PART III: DELIVERY LECTURE (HIGH-TECH) teacher notes (page 3 of 3)

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8.3.6 PART III: POST DELIVERY WORKSHEET (LOW AND HIGH-TECH)

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8.4.1 PART IV: INQUIRY ACTIVITY WORKSHEET (LOW-TECH)

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8.4.2 PART IV: INQUIRY ACTIVITY WORKSHEET (HIGH-TECH)

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8.4.3 PART IV: INQUIRY ACTIVITY WORKSHEET (HIGH-TECH)

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8.4.4 PART IV: INQUIRY ACTIVITY (HIGH-TECH) www.cellsalive.com screen shots

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8.4.5a PART IV: INQUIRY ACTIVITY (LOW-TECH) Paper Plate Cell-modeling (student
work) “Anaphase”

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8.4.5b PART IV: INQUIRY ACTIVITY (LOW-TECH) Paper Plate Cell-modeling (student
work) “Telophase”

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8.5.1 PART V: ASSESSMENT (POST-TEST) High and Low-Tech (Page 1 of 2)

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8.5.2 PART V: ASSESSMENT (POST-TEST) High and Low-Tech (Page 2 of 2)

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8.4.1b PART IV: INQUIRY ACTIVITY WORKSHEET (LOW-TECH) Student Sample A


Student turned in late – not completed during activity

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8.4.1c PART IV: INQUIRY ACTIVITY WORKSHEET (LOW-TECH) Student Sample B


Student turned in late – not completed during activity

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8.4.1d PART IV: INQUIRY ACTIVITY WORKSHEET (LOW-TECH) Student Sample C


Student turned in late – not completed during activity

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8.4.1e PART IV: INQUIRY ACTIVITY WORKSHEET (HIGH-TECH) Student Sample D


Student completed this assignment on time

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8.4.1f PART IV: INQUIRY ACTIVITY WORKSHEET (HIGH-TECH) Student Sample E


Student completed this assignment on time

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8.4.1g PART IV: INQUIRY ACTIVITY WORKSHEET (HIGH-TECH) Student Sample F


Student completed this assignment on time

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