Postgraduate Proposal for Simon Crook, May 2010

Title A Research Study to Assess the Impact of 1-to-1 laptops on Student Performance in Science Research Questions
1. What improvement, if any, in student performance in Science can be attributed to the 1-to-1 laptop program instigated through the Australian Federal Government’s Digital Education Revolution (DER)? Was there a measurable increase in Science SC and HSC results due to every Year 9 – 12 student receiving a laptop? 2. How did teachers’ approaches to technology in the classroom affect the success of the DER and ultimately student performance in Science? 3. Did students experience greater motivation to study in Science upon receiving a laptop through the DER? 4. How did school leadership, policies, culture and initiatives affect and the uptake of technology in the classroom related to the DER?

Significance
At present there is little quantitative data regarding a causal link between student participation in a 1-to-1 laptop program and increased academic achievement in Science. The key objective of this proposed research project is to provide such data so as to determine any causality, positive or negative. As a $2.2 billioni Federal initiative, under the constant scrutiny of media, the education system and Australian society as a whole, it is of paramount importance to measure any net improvement in student performance due to the DER. The classrooms being considered in this study have been changed for at least the near future with the saturation of technology. Should a link be found between access to 1-to-1 laptops and student performance in Science then this will help shape future learning environments and influence future teaching practices. Schools and School Systems are currently deciding on the sustainability of a 1-to-1 program after the Federal money runs out. The findings of this research may well contribute to the decision making.

Historical Context
In November 2007, Kevin Rudd MP, then leader of the Opposition, released ‘A Digital Education Revolution’ Policy Documentii stating in part the intention to provide world class information and communications technology (ICT) for every secondary student in years 9 to 12, ideally equipping every student with a laptopiii. In February 2008, the Hon Julia Gillard MP, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Education, informed all secondary schools that they could apply to participate in the DERiv under the subsection entitled the National Secondary School Computer Fund (NSSCF)v.

The 36 secondary schools that I work with submitted applications for the DER. Every school was successful and as a System, following DER guidelines, we decided to roll out laptops to every Year 9 student over 2 rounds for the next 4 years. The 19 schools involved in Round 1 were announcedvi in June 2008 by the Hon Julia Gillard MP. The first school issued their Year 9 students with laptops in September 2008, with the other schools doing likewise in due course. The Round 2 schools did not receive their first machines until mid 2009vii, the delay due to negotiations with the NSW Governmentviii, custodians of the largest education system in Australia. The first schools with students studying with 1-to-1 laptops to sit external examinations were Round 1 schools in late 2009. In the case of NSW this was the 6 Year 10 School Certificate examinations.

Research Context
With the first external examination data in the DER 1-to-1 laptop context obtained for the 2009 School Certificate (SC) and 2011 Higher School Certificate (HSC) examinations there is now the opportunity to assess the impact of 1-to-1 laptops on student performance. Trend and value-added data will be available as students involved in the DER perform these examinations over subsequent years with the final 2012 DER Year 9 cohort undertaking SC in 2013 and HSC in 2015. As eLearning Adviser to the 16 secondary schools in my Region, I have unique access and understanding of the DER implementation in these schools. Thus it is my intention to analyse the performance of the DER year groups in this sample of schools. By triangulating the reported implementation by students, teachers and leadership and cross-referencing this with standard examination results, coherent data should be obtainable to assess the impact of 1-to-1 laptops. In order to keep the data focused it is proposed that only student performance in the Sciences is analysed. Physics and Science form my personal teaching background, thus this data field lends itself to my research.

Initial Literature Review
Currently there appears to be only a limited pool of data around the direct link between student access to technology, particularly 1-to-1 laptops, and student performance, particularly Science. The main contemporary contributions are from OECD, JTLA, IFS and the University of Southern Maine. In 2010 the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) published Are the New Millennium Learners Making the Grade?: Technology Use and Educational Performance in Pisaix. OECD is one of the world’s largest publishers in the fields of economics and public policyx. OECD works with the governments of 30 democracies, addressing the economic, social and environmental challenges of globalisation. In particular, around education, OECD organises and analyses the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). This is an internationally standardised assessment that is jointly developed by participating economies and administered to 15-year-olds in schoolsxi. Tests are typically administered to between 4,500 and 10,000 students in each country. One of the domains assessed is Scientific Literacyxii. The above report found that

students’ experience with using computers is positively related to their PISA 2006 science scores. As the report focused on general access to technology at both school and at home rather than specifically 1-to-1 laptops (and importantly, most students did not have access to 1-to-1, in fact far less on average) the context of school access is very different. Thus giving conclusions such as frequency of computer use at home is more clearly correlated with PISA 2006 science scores than with frequency of computer use at school. In analysing the DER 1-to-1 program, the students in question will in theory have complete access to computers, both at school and at home. Also in 2010, The Journal of Technology, Learning, and Assessment (JTLA) published One to One Computing: A Summary of the Quantitative Results from the Berkshire Wireless Learning Initiativexiii as part of a series of articles around Educational Outcomes and Research from 1:1 Computing Settingsxiv. The JTLA is a scholarly, peer-reviewed on-line journal that provides an interdisciplinary forum where initiatives that combine technology, learning theory, and assessment are sharedxv. It releases regular publications with a special emphasis currently on research on 1-to-1 laptop settings. The article referred to above stated there is also evidence that student research skills and collaboration were enhanced by the improved educational access and opportunities afforded by the 1:1 and the unprecedented two-year improvement in eighth grade Math pass rates across corresponded with the years students’ participated in the 1:1 laptop program. The research published in JTLA was specifically around 1-to-1 laptops and found a positive correlation between 1-to-1 and both skills and examination grades attained. However, the curriculum areas examined were Mathematics and English rather than Science. In addition, reducing the impact of the conclusions, the article contained the waiver without a true experimental design, this trend analysis does little to prove that the 1:1 pilot program improved test scores. However one potential explanation of the seventh and eighth grade MCAS pass rates over this time period could be that 1:1 participation was conducive or complementary to practices that fostered improvements in test performance. In 2009, Chowdry et al from the Institute for Fiscal Studies published Drivers and Barriers to Educational Success - Evidence from the Longitudinal Study of Young People in Englandxvi. This Research Report stated that after controlling for KS3xvii results, the availability of a computer at home is significantly positively associated with Key Stage 4xviii test scores. This association amounts to around 14 GCSExix points (equivalent to 2 GCSE grades in a single subject), losing access to a computer is associated with a reduction of 20 GCSE points

and gaining access to the internet is associated with 10 GCSE points. As with OECD, Chowdry et al did not look specifically at 1-to-1 access. Also, Chowdry combined data from the core subjects: Mathematics, English and Science, rather than examine Science alone. However, this Research Report gives specific quantitative data on learning gain and loss, having controlled for historical results. In 2002, the Maine Learning Technology Initiative (MLTI) was started whereby all 7th and 8th grade students and their teachers were provided with laptop computersxx. This program has been the subject of several analytical publicationsxxi, forming some of the most substantial research into the impact of 1-to-1 laptops on student performance, primarily published by the University of Southern Maine. Amongst these publications is the 2004 report The Impact of Maine’s One-to-One Laptop Program on Middle School Teachers and Studentsxxii. As an evaluation two years into the 1-to-1 program it concludes the evaluation evidence collected over the first 15 months of the program indicates that the laptops are being used widely by teachers and students, and their use has improved learning. The evidence of increased student performance was mainly anecdotal and an aggregation of perceptions from staff and student surveys rather than cross-referenced with examination results. Also, it did not look at performance in Science. However, this report specifically focuses on 1-to-1 laptops and presents good data on engagement and motivation. A more recent publication from 2009, Using Laptops to Facilitate Middle School Science Learning: The Results of Hard Funxxiii, compared the performance of students with access to 1-to-1 laptops to those without. The findings were that it may be concluded that the intervention used in this project provides an example of the successful use of the MLTI laptops within a science classroom in order to increase the academic achievement and the general engagement of the students.

Methodology Summary
1. Analysing the 2009 SC Science results will allow for comparison between the 7xxiv schools that received laptops in Year 9 2008 and the 7xxv that did not. Similarly, the same cohort will take their HSC in 2011 so a similar comparison of results will be possible. By studying all schools examination performance from 2009 to 2012 and comparing against recent historical data, possible trends may emerge. 2. Surveying teachers and students regarding the amount and type of use of laptops in the classroom will be cross-referenced with student performance in examinations. 3. Surveying students and teachers plus monitoring retention rates from Stage 5 to Stage 6 Science will provide evidence of any increased motivation. 4. Surveying school and System leaders and cross-referencing with student and teacher surveys may find a causal link between leadership and uptake.

Timeline
July 2010 July/Aug 2010 July-Dec 2010 Aug 2010 Aug/Sept 2010 Aug/Sept 2010 Aug/Sept 2010 Oct/Nov 2010 Dec 2010 Jan-Mar 2011 Aug/Sept 2011 Aug/Sept 2011 Aug/Sept 2011 July 2012 Nov 2011 Ethics Obtain 2009 results Literature Review Generate student/staff/leadership surveys Survey Y10 students 2010 Survey Y10 teachers 2010 Survey Y10/12 leadership 2010 Analyse 2009 results Obtain 2010 results Analyse 2010 results Survey Y10/12 students 2010 Survey Y10/12 teachers 2010 Survey Y10/12 leadership 2010 Publish initial findings   complete complete

literature compiled    complete complete complete

dropped   begun initial analysis complete

i

http://www.deewr.gov.au/Schooling/DigitalEducationRevolution/Pages/default.aspx http://www.pixel.com.au/documentation//products/netsupport/netsupport_school/labors_digital_education _revolution_campaign_launch.pdf iii http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pS-JS_uuNRM (1:05 minute mark) iv http://www.deewr.gov.au/Ministers/Gillard/Media/Releases/Pages/Article_081010_165816.aspx v http://www.deewr.gov.au/SCHOOLING/DIGITALEDUCATIONREVOLUTION/COMPUTERFUND/Pages/NationalS econdarySchoolComputerFundOverview.aspx vi http://www.deewr.gov.au/Schooling/DigitalEducationRevolution/ComputerFund/Pages/NationalSecondarySc hoolComputerFundRoundOne.aspx#1 vii http://www.deewr.gov.au/Ministers/Gillard/Media/Releases/Pages/Article_090331_102609.aspx viii http://www.deewr.gov.au/Ministers/Gillard/Media/Releases/Pages/Article_081008_115126.aspx ix CENTRE FOR EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH AND INNOVATION, Are the New Millennium Learners Making the Grade? Technology Use and Educational Performance in PISA 2006. OECD, 2010. http://www.oecdbookshop.org/oecd/display.asp?CID=&LANG=en&SF1=DI&ST1=5KSCG4HRN95K x http://www.oecd.org/pages/0,3417,en_36734052_36734103_1_1_1_1_1,00.html xi http://www.pisa.oecd.org/pages/0,3417,en_32252351_32235907_1_1_1_1_1,00.html xii http://www.pisa.oecd.org/pages/0,3417,en_32252351_32236102_1_1_1_1_1,00.html
ii

xiii

Bebell, Damian, and Rachel Kay. "One to One Computing: A Summary of the Quantitative Results from the Berkshire Wireless Learning Initiative." Journal of Technology, Learning, and Assessment. 9.2 (2010) http://escholarship.bc.edu/jtla/vol9/2/ xiv http://escholarship.bc.edu/jtla/ xv http://escholarship.bc.edu/jtla/mission.html xvi Chowdry, H. et al, Drivers and Barriers to Educational Success Evidence from the Longitudinal Study of Young People in England, Institute for Fiscal Studies. 2009 http://www.education.gov.uk/research/data/uploadfiles/DCSF-RR102.pdf xvii equivalent to NSW Stage 4 xviii equivalent to NSW Stage 5 xix equivalent to NSW School Certificate xx http://maine.gov/mlti/about/index.shtml xxi http://www.usm.maine.edu/cepare/mlti.htm xxii Silvernail, David L., and Dawn M. M. Lane. The Impact of Maine’s One-to-One Laptop Program on Middle School Teachers and Students. University of Southern Maine, 2004 http://maine.gov/mlti/articles/research/MLTIPhaseOneEvaluationReport2004.pdf xxiii Berry, Alexis M., and Sarah E. Wintle. Using Laptops to Facilitate Middle School Science Learning: The Results of Hard Fun. CEPARE, University of Southern Maine and MICDL, 2009 http://maine.gov/mlti/resources/ScienceLearning.pdf xxiv 7 secondary schools received laptops in Year 9 plus 1 senior college received laptops in Year 11 in 2008 xxv 7 secondary schools plus 1 senior college did not receive laptops until 2009

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