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1 Table of Contents

LIST OF TABLES AND ILLUSTRATIONS Page 1. An experiment conducted with an elementary school.......................................................1 2. Number of participants per group......................................................................................1

2 3. Vygotskys Zone of Proximal Development...................................................................50 4. Vygotskys Sociocultural Theory of Learning................................................................60

ABSTRACT READING COMPREHENSION ASSESSMENTS AT ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS By Doctor of Information Studies Degree

The purpose of this dissertation is to provide a greater corpus of knowledge concerning the

3 complex relationship that exists between various levels of significance in reporting of assessment results. This dissertation entails a study comparing one delivery method of a reading assessment and its method of reporting results to that of an entirely different delivery method concerning a similar assessment instrument and its method of delivering results. Public elementary schools throughout the United States are mandated to report on the achievements of their student populations in reading, mathematics, and science. Federal, as well as State legislatures is directed to establish academic standards in order to demonstrate to taxpayers that student achievement is taking place. Principals of public schools are directed to bring into their schools, teaching methods and assessment models that can boost highest probability of their student body, being able to achieve higher levels on their reading assessments than they did the previous year. These new assessment modes need to be vetted out by the schools teachers, so that supporting lessons may be developed. Additionally, teachers in this process of informing have to get the lessons content presented to the children, who in turn sit for a test (assessment). This test involves using an assessment instrument, which becomes the starting point for the reporting of achievement results to the Principal, hence creating inaccuracies in the chain of information flow. The problem is best represented when a reading comprehension lesson at the fifth grade level using books, paper, and pencils is tested, using a web delivered instrument. In city schools, there exists a web based reading comprehension assessment, called I-Ready that I will use as my instrument of interest. This dissertation will bring to the academic domain of elementary educational assessment, the empirical examination of the present informing gap that is present in information gathering and reporting today.

4 Informing assessment systems along with analysis of teaching and assessment models along with current professional assumptions will also be analyzed. The research design is a pre-test, post-test and a control group model of inquiry. Hypothesis testing will be reported on and discussed.

Chapter 1: Introduction Assessments Critical analysis and reviews of the use at present of, book and paper based summative assessment are tested in this dissertation. Beforehand, during the year 2000, New York Citys Department of Education (NYCDOE) had assessed the 5th Grade through offering a reading comprehension summative assessment. The New York Citys Department of Education started offering the web-based method of assessment after verification that web based assessment method was 100% reliable in elementary day schools.

5 Arguably, Information systems supporting the use and administration of a webbased reading comprehension summative assessment have been highlighted in this thesis. Rigby Reads (a Web based Reading Comprehension Assessment) at the fifth Grade level in one public elementary day school under the governance of the NYCDOE is out main concentration. Indeed, the dissertation is being designed to investigate the significance of the systems, models, and traditional assumptions that are used today in reporting the results of a web-based assessment over that of a more traditional paper based test. Fifth Grade elementary students respond to reading comprehension questions unusually often in daily reading lessons. They do not interact with reading comprehension questions often in a webbased environment. This research will enrich the related literature by providing some much-needed empirical evidence in how a remarkably diverse, highly international, multilingual, student population deals with having to learn in one way and respond to questions in a vastly different way.

The Assessment Gap Reporting valid and significant scores on reading assessments that might or might not be measuring what they are reported to be measuring represents the Gap, which this dissertation will be focusing on. The recognition of how and at what point the information providing systems, models, and traditional assumptions are put into play, are vital to understanding how results that schools are reporting today are indeed not as useful as they are purported to be (Black & William, 1998a). In the dissertation, background information

6 on the classes taking the web-based test will be researched, to help determine the parameters of this part of the study. Understanding the types of assessment that go into developing most school-based assessments especially assessments used to analyze childrens reading comprehension growth over time, has been such a vastly researched topic. The topic is too large to accomplish an exhaustive literature review for the parameters of this dissertation. This limits this literature review to authors whose work is as closely related to their primary research population, their environment, their tools, their instruments (assessments) and means of delivery of said instrument. In addition, it implies, able to use the Web as its primary means of delivery (Black & William, 1998a).

Formative assessment. According to Black & William (1998a), "Inside the Black Box: Raising Standards through Classroom Assessment" provided strong evidence on formative assessment. Its extensive literature review, showed that, classroom formative assessment, when properly implemented it means boosting student learning. Furthermore, it highlighted that summative assessment such as standardized exams can have seriously harmful effects (Black & William, 2006).

Summative assessment. Summative assessment is the attempt to summarize student learning at some point in time, near the end of a course. Most standardized tests are summative. They are not designed to provide the immediate, contextualized feedback useful for helping teacher and student during the learning process. High quality summative

7 information can shape how teachers organize their courses or what schools offer their students (Black, 1998). Web based summative assessment. The research highlighted that high-quality formative assessment is relatively rare in classrooms and that most teachers do not know well how to engage in such assessment. According to Black and William (1998a), most classroom testing encourages rote and superficial learning. Teachers do not help each other become proficient assessors, and they often emphasize quantity of work over high quality. Actual assessment practices are often harmful: marking and grading are overemphasized while giving useful advice is underemphasized, and comparing students competitively causes low-achieving students to believe they cannot learn. Teachers, it turns out, replicate standardized tests in their own assessment practices and lack sufficient information about their students. Indeed, it was because the [NYCDOE] realized they were not generating enough history on any one student and needed faster tracking of individual achievements that NYCDOE started pushing for more Web-based summative assessments to take place in 2000. This was enabled by the fact that most teachers were not trained in creating lesson plans to support the newer formative assessment method (Chambers, 1997). So presented, offers some knowledge into the absence of the use of formative assessment up to and including 2005 in generating web-based assessments. Indeed, like children, teachers too needed time to be taught in the uses and applications of this more advanced delivery method of their subjects content. Web based delivery. According to Chappuis and Stiggins (2002), it was discovered that the classroom

8 teacher had been using an online-and slightly modified version of a formative assessment as a rubric to populate his paper-based- end of term summative assessment.

Learning psychology To understand that the medium is the message (McLuhan), is to understand that information to be comprehended needs first to be delivered. An utterance, a written word, a typed word, and today, a texted word have embedded in it, its delivery means. Thus, the importance of content is primarily content delivery. According to Fisher (2005), a child in a classroom can only work with, and learn with his or her own senses- Seeing, Touching, Hearing and Tasting. Which then means to be an effective teacher, we need to provide intent in respect to being be best received by any one or more of these receptors. The more modalities can activate at the same time, the greater the ability that education message is received with the greatest clarity (Forman& Etchison.1991).

Learning Theory (Activity Theory) Activity theory becomes the development of ways in which the student and teacher communicate; the actual informing, knowledge creation begins. For the purpose of this study, knowledge is the stored information, which may be called upon at any moment that will provide an alternative possible solution to the problem at hand (Greenhow, 2008). In being able to connect or Merge two different actions, and have them work together in an orchestrated fashion, takes time and practice.

9 Indeed, According to Nardie (1996), conceptualizes actions as, The manual shifting a car from 1st to third gear The point of which is to make something at rest (the car), first start moving, then increase its velocity in a given direction. Not going to deep at this moment, yet realizing that to make such a transition takes, pedal operation, shift operation, observing skills, and memorization [ what does what, when causing what, to happen]. Furthermore, nothing is done in isolation. It takes the meshing of many aspects of a system, be it in a car or a childs mind to get out of it what you want. From driving faster and straighter, or learning how to write out the Times Tables using a Word Processor in addition, understanding the many psychological and physical aspects, variables, and environments that learning may take place in, we can better promote and assess that which we provide to our students. As mentioned previously, there are many systems, models, and assumptions made in acquiring the knowledge required to assess with any true sense of accuracy and the levels of reading comprehension that are reported on this web based assessments. This research then becomes more crucial in the domain of Information Studies for Academic Assessment and Curriculum Development. For within this research then a more pertinent question becomes evident.

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Chapter Two: Research Questions Assessments Questions What is being tested? Does the exam delivery mode and reading training of fifth Grade elementary school students make a difference on the students performance on reading comprehension web-based tests? Are the results reported valid in reporting what they do? The literature review will illustrate that we still have yet to learn about how elementary assessment, both formative and summative, needs to be in better alignment in order for it to be more reliable and valid in what it reports. The research questions proposed in this section will help define the gap as well as populate the gap with what is happening, and how the gap can potentially be averted in the future. There are true and actual benefits to be gained by the undertaking of this study. Once the academic informing system of the elementary student has been understood, we

11 will be better able to analyze each aspect and look for inner strengths and weaknesses at each state. The informing system when model represented it forms a systematic system. These systems follow a systematic system: Teaching method- student information retrievalstudent information recall- student interaction with assessment instrument interface - and assessment reporting. The results of this dissertation will demonstrate that the information gap between the students information retrieval and their information recall reporting is cause for significant analysis. This is what is being reported as a student reading Comprehension achievement. These types of results might better be conceptualized as a combination of Reading Comprehension, Computer Literacy, Fine motor, and more general computer application knowledge. Which if true, then should have the larger academic community asking; Can children who use a computer for non-academic purposes (for amusement) able to use it just as well when being tested on topics for non-amusement (Barron, 2004)?

Research Questions a) Are the skills needed to read text on paper equal to reading text on a computer screen? b) What are the primary reading skills that elementary school students need plus what is the primary reading skills needed to be able to read on-line (Web-based) in addition, what makes these skills significantly different? c) If reading skills are significantly different between the two methods, why are we testing children as if they are not, and reporting the results as if they are the same?

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Research Question Analysis To facilitate discussion of the research questions and the methodological discussion that follows, I have designed a research model shown in figure 1. This model represents the various entities, both internal and external towards the system of information gathering and retrieval that students in an elementary school, grade 5, would most likely encounter and act on, prior to, and while taking a web based assessment as well as paper-based assessment. Within the literature review, relevant topics will be presented in such a way as to offer support in the development of an actual student generated system for information gathering and retrieval during a reading assessment supporting the Information reporting systems that school based administrators use.

Reading assessments topics: The topics under information gathering during reading assessments are listed below: Teaching Method (Ed.) Student information retrieval (Learning, Psychology) Student information recall (Ed. Theory) Student interaction with assessment (Human to Paper Action) {and/or} Student interaction with assessment web based interface (Human to Computer Interaction) The assessments tally of positive or negative responses (Computer Science)

13 The assessments program reporting results to teachers and to school administrators. (Computer Science) Administrators reporting results based on a single outcome of assessment (Ed.)

Chapter 3: Literature review Informing System

Pedagogy in support of the Informing System According to Websters Dictionary, the term Pedagogy refers to principals and methods of instruction or the profession of a teacher. In addition, pedagogy can be defined as the activities of educating and act of imparting knowledge. According to Hemard, Pierson and Burton (1992), in this review, my standpoint will be that pedagogy defines the activities of educating or instructing, and activities that impart knowledge and skill. Clearly, then, a lead discussion starts by a teacher-initiated topic in elementary classrooms. This discussion is petite and very much to a pre-determined point. Have or being the essential or basic part, defines elementary. It is within the elementary school education that

14 introductions takes place, i.e. things, people, places, emotions, senses, ideas, concepts and relationships. In support of Black (2007), during this period, a high development of future academic prospects is witnessed. According to Ausubel (2000), he supports that, the struggles that so many students have in demonstrating their retention of knowledge was in its primary, or rather elementary level of insufficient skills in acquisition. Middle school students in this research were assessed after reading short stories. It was found out that a significant number of subjects had not fully comprehended all the vocabulary used in the stories. Thus their previous pedagogy, in this subject, had not prepared them well for this story. Arguably, Ausubel (2000), argued against this understanding. It was learned after completing the research that many more variables were confounding the results. Such variables were single parent household, number of siblings, and actual language spoken at home. Factors that could significantly add to or subtract from building a larger more comprehensive and usable English Vocabulary, which the assessment stories were written added to confounding the results. Similar research was completed by Black, and William (2003), where the concepts of known confounding variables such as the ones in Ausubel (2000) were looked at even more closely. Within this body of educational research, the concept of formative assessment was once again brought to the top of discussion. Black and William (2003) presented that that there have been many definitions of formative assessment. There is no clear rationale to define and delimit it within broader theories of pedagogy. They stated that formative assessment might be a framework in which to unify similar forms of assessment such as cognitive acceleration and dynamic

15 assessment. Earlier work on formative assessment centered on five main types of activity, suggested by evidence of their potential effectiveness, and developed with and by teachers in normal classroom work (William 2000; Black et al. 2003). These were: Sharing success criteria with learners Classroom questioning Comment-only marking Peer- and self-assessment Formative use of summative tests In addition, according to William and Thompson (2007), they provided more reference to formative assessment include: Establishing where the learners are in their learning Establishing where they are going Establishing what needs to be done to get them there In traditionally settings, the teacher has been regarded as responsible for each of these last three, but it is also necessary to take account of the role that the learners themselves, and their peers, play in them. The teacher should be responsible for designing and implementing an effective learning environment. The learner should then become responsible for learning within the environment. Then it should be observable then, the responsibility for learning rests both with the teacher as well as with the learner, it is incumbent on each to do all they can to navigate the resulting effect. Following this further, it was later studied that the effect of a new approach to

16 group-work on pupil-pupil and teacher-pupil interaction should be further analyzed. According to Blatchford, Baines, Rubie-Davies, Bassett & Chowne (2006), formative assessment using summative as furthering the needed teachable topics, was researched more. Here the subjects were once again elementary school and middle school children. The combining of classroom work by William (2000), Black et al. (2003), William, and Thompson (2007) were completed. The results, though inconclusive were to mold many future related studies in the area of formative assessment using summative assessment as motivation for topics of content for elementary pedagogy lessons. One primary lesson learned was that, when summative assessments results were used to guide future classroom discussions, via a method called Met cognition. This is a term in educational psychology, describing how we think about thinking. In reference to Dufresne and Mastre, (1996), this can be well interpreted in elementary school practice through a series of questions, i.e. Im thinking of a color, It is in the sky, its on our American Flag, John its also the color of your shirt, finally, teacher asks, Class what color am I thinking about. Greater level of withholding was recorded. In other words, the multi-modal method of using more than one or two senses in a given lesson seemed to increase the level of acquisition. This finding will be a recurring theme throughout this literature review. Though one will need to be re-evaluated into how multimodal pedagogy can find a new place within the inclusion of newer and even more interactive teaching tools that enter into the elementary classrooms. According to Foster, (1997), through classifying different approaches to and using

17 different teaching philosophies in the elementary school technology education plan, a student motivation to learn may be increased. He stipulates that understanding how children learn, while interacting with classroom technology, can demonstrate that children think about things differently. Comprehending this aspect of childrens educational needs, the teacher should be able to show aggression the concept of learning, as one of another question. Following this further, philosophies to support the active learning for any child will be discussed under literature review section that deals with the Psychology in Support of the Informing System. In using technology, learner motivation, can be more stimulated then without. One needs to question whether, educational technology lead to more learning or better learning. Point in fact, according to Fisher (2005), question about teaching children to learn outside the classroom is vastly different then teaching children to learn inside the classroom are asked. Presumably, question like Teaching children to learn, is it fundamental? The act of learning seems to be from most non-academic standpoints. Fisher does look at this question through the metaphorical observation of an educator. In a classroom, the concepts to be learned are teacher initiated, not self- initiated, which presents in Fishers study the first obstacle to formal and primary education of many children. Teaching children to learn, more so, teaching children how to learn what others want them to learn becomes the secondary issue. At this level, it leaves me to discuss on foster key points in learning. Foster highlighted that approaches to and philosophies of elementary school technology

18 education, lead to greater information retrieval of teacher-initiated topics (Foster, 1997). While in 2005, 8 years later, Fisher, discussed that in teaching children to learn, we should take the childs experiences in as well as out of the classroom, and then reapply them to both self-initiated as well as teacher initiated topics of learning (Fisher, 2005). For the way children learn is more multimodal then to have a student simply observe from what they see on a computer screen. It was this concept of pairing these concepts that lead to the discovery of research undertaken by Goodyear (2000). In his work Environments for lifelong learning ergonomics, architecture and educational design, the greater concept of where learning takes place was brought to the forefront Goodyear (2000). We learned that how students feel in a non-physical sense was just as important as in the physical sense. In this study, tables, rugs, chairs, windows, temperature, and teacher demeanor was all brought into play. This was a qualitative analysis of what middle school students perceived as important in their day- to-day interactions with their learning environment. According to the study it was discovered that such aspects of the learning process in classrooms altered the learning out comes. Such aspects including keyboarding on the classroom computers caused pains in the kids hands and wrists, while the light in the room seemed too low, which caused eyestrain on some of the children. The starkness of the classroom walls subtracted from the positive attitude of the teacher. Learning Environment thus, was not conducive to motivating the childrens learning process. Most steps in the process at the time thus lead to unpleasant interactions that lead indirectly to less engagement in each childs motivation for learning.

19 Next, I will be replicating similar study conditions in a New York Elementary Day School classroom. New York Elementary Day School classroom provides a more current perspective on research direction in what has been a recurring issue in classrooms within the past ten years. Assessment has been labeled differently in many different research projects. The primary focus for this study will be Web based assessment using both formative and summative assessment. More to Hughes ways (2005), in attempting to follow the main topic of Web-based assessment, I had to look also at closely related key phrases while completing my research searching. Key phrases were used instead of key words, due to the ever-broadening capabilities of search engines like Google and Yahoo and Bing. In using Web based assessment as my primary phrase, what was returned as closely related in topics were the Formative assessment, Summative Assessment, Application based assessment, and broadly related was teacher generated assessment, all having direct application to pedagogy within the classroom. According to Robelia and Hughes (2010) study Learning Teaching, and scholarship in a digital age used the concept of using formative assessment, and summative assessment as teaching tools to promote a more comprehensive way of having children cart off from a reading lesson. According to their book, to promote a specific type of reading [formative, summative], students should be exposed to the same (Robelia and Hughes, 2010). This explains that, if a student is to be tested on a book content, that student should be able to read and have a copy of the same book. Furthermore, according to Hemphill (2000), a comprehensive exposure to a reading

20 for students, should have us in the education field capture a thought. At this stage, I will expound on some form of questions raised according to different authors: What would happen if the books content were not paper based (Hemphill, 2000)? What if the student must change the way in which initial information is retrieved (Henry, 2010)? If the literature read for the first time is not in paper form in a book, but rather in digital form such as a web page, how is the student expected to the react the same on an assessment (Hillman, 1994; Hughes, 2010)? Educators still prefer the use of a book copy with children in a classroom. In addition, according to Hamza & Alhaalabi, (2003), the same educators will assess, or test their students using paper-based tests, having each child respond to questions on what they have read. This is by either having each child write out an answer using complete sentences or rather filling in ovals in what may be called a multiple-choice test. Arguably, according to Chappuis & Stiggins (2002), if a child is initially instructed to read a book by turning paper pages and writing down notes with a pencil, writing out a response to something read is a natural and logical process. Unfortunately, technology in the classroom has not been fully considered. What has been happening and currently happens so often in our classrooms is a steady influx of computer technology. Another notable argument about this technology as suggested by Davis & Roblyer (2005) is that, the technology is being used in classrooms, due to their ability to present information to students, in a more vivid, timely manner.

21 As noted in the current trends, using this classroom technology by school administrators, parents, as well as the students is that the tried and true process of going through the steps in a customary reading lesson, have now been significantly altered (Clay, 1991). This leads to the question concerning how the process of teaching a reading lesson is changed. Unquestionably, in my answer to the process of teaching a reading lesson, there is need for specific assignments and tests. This commences by, assigning a Chapter Book to a class to read over a period (fifth grade). Throughout the same period, daily or weekly, parts of the book containing significant aspects of the story will be gone over in class. Difficult or new vocabulary words and their meanings will be analyzed and discussed. Questions will be posed to the students to seek further comprehension of the content read. Writing assignments to seek further understanding of the content read. Finally, at the end of the primary reading period, a reading test, or assessment is given. Notably, individual students ability to process the contents of the book read, will traditionally take place. The length and structure of the test depends, where one or two questions about the main idea of the story will be asked, and composition type answers will be expected to answer them. According to Haas and Hayes (1986), this can be described as natural writing form for that child. Currently, though, the teaching process and the responding process have been changed. I will use the Haas & Hayes (1996), concept and bring it somewhat current through the work of Harrison, Hay, Pierson & Burton (1992). After careful analysis, the similarities and differences between the two, basic understandings have obviously been assumed. We can observe the presence of the gap in

22 this reading lesson, as small and seemingly insignificant. The assumptions are too plentiful to neglect, yet so many educational professionals do neglect them (Kendall& Broihier, 1992).To better grasp applications Kendall and Brohier (1992), wished to demonstrate, let me present some skill sets that are necessary for a 5th grader to be able to complete by the end of his or her 5th grade year. Firstly, I will begin with sets that assist the child in computer based- reading assessments. These sets are only the precursor to being able to complete a truly computerbased reading/writing curriculum at the 5th grade level. They Include: Application knowledge (What a specific computer application does) Application use (Able to pick the correct computer application to complete a task) Application operation (Able to control the aspects necessary to get the task completed) Mouse to cursor movement comprehension Keyboard knowledge; letters, numerals, function keys, and control keys Printing out correctly what was represented on the computer screen. Proof reading for formatting errors, spelling errors, font, style, and publishing issues Re-entering data to correct errors, then re-printing out and handing in for a grade. Next, the knowledge of dealing with application window, i.e. scroll bar, window extender, title bar and a window body provides a fifth grader the knowledge to read a web page. In addition, web page knowledge can be attributed to, the knowledge of dealing with either track-pad or mouse and knowledge about browser choice based upon computers

23 format, i.e. (PC) uses Explorer or other PC based format and Macintosh (MAC) Safari or similar browser would be chosen. The previous sets would also be needed to be comprehended prior having the student enter into a formal reading lesson that would take place on-line. This type of reading lesson would also include hardware that the school would have made a decision on prior to having students enter the classroom where computers would be set up. Finally, the student would need a set of skills in order to be able to interact between computer screen, possibly a touch screen, and other students working cooperatively, as well as the teacher leading the lesson. Skill sets for this aspect of the process would be through Scanning and skimming lines of text- from left to right, top to bottom. Next, the Prior knowledge of vocabulary comprehension, word knowledge comprehension and basic grammar structure knowledge is vital. In addition, having the teacher guide each student to sites appropriate to the student and a corresponding reading level would seal interaction between student, computer screens and teachers.

NB: In the overall run, the working together and simultaneously creates an Informing System, which is my key concentration in this literature review section (Russell, 2002). According to Maule (1998), System thinking is process of understanding how things influence one another within a whole. In accordance to Ine, (2002), by placing more or less importance on different aspects of the entire process can provide teachers and students the ability to focus on the weaker aspects and reinforce the stronger. Consequently, Informing is the introduction of facts about something, someone,

24 somewhere to someone else. Obviously, this indicates that, the act of becoming informed requires a skill set of its own. The set includes ability to comprehend language used to transmit data, information, and message. Ability to comprehend directions to complete task adds to the skill set. Furthermore, ability to navigate through text and graphics presented on a screen via, transmission of data and directions provides for better information. Able to acknowledge areas of weakness in comprehension of all previously listed skill sets ensure quick information analysis, which is part of act of learning. The classroom teacher working with the student on these skill sets usually monitors this ability closely. Lastly, the ability to demonstrate comprehension of intended message- accomplished by either verbalizing the response or by creating a written response. Next, I will introduce the act of learning. Applebee (2003) offers a stance on classroom discussion and cooperation in developing higher order classroom instruction that supports student performance from middle to high school. It is through discussion, that academic learning takes place. Arguably, while discussion may lead to academic learning at classroom level, the reader of this study would logically ask, about the individual learner. As stated by Allal & Ducrey (2000), while researching under the canopy of Vygotsky (1978) Zone of Proximal Development [theory of learning], presented through their research that the Inter-activity of the senses at different developmental phases lead to the best results in a learners ability to comprehend more. This theory portrays on what a child can accumulate or know independently without assistance from others and

25 what he can achieve through encouragement and guidance from individuals with better knowledge (Vygotsky, 1978). According to Becker, (1987), the concept of tell me, show me, [and] then let me try is well presented in the development. This offers support to the later findings of both Applebee (2003), and Allal & Ducrey (2000). According to this research, it demonstrates the importance of these disciplines in the instruction of content stemming from reading, learning, and computer science. In being able to analyze how young students learn ways to do things in an academic setting, we need (as academic researchers) to better understand how the informing system is perceived by a child between the ages of 9.5 and 10.5 years on average (Bately, 1986). Assuredly, to make an assessment of any system sprockets and cogs must be checked to see if appropriate meshing is taking place, this helps more in defining informing system (Clay, 1991: DeGennaro, 2008). To expound more a sprocket and or a Cog may best be described as being closely similar to the wheel with pedals attached to it on a bicycle. The wheel engages the chain, to generate the energy, which powers the back wheel and its gears. Meshing is the simultaneous operation of gears (in our case) to create a network of activities that allows for smooth generation of energy at an increasing rate. According to Nardi (1996) Context and Consciousness: Activity Theory and Human-Computer Interaction, we are presented with theory of educating a student. He introduced the concept of driving a standard vehicle. While the concept of making the car move forward is straight forward, putting into practice is not. It takes the meshing of many different steps in a system to make the car move forward smoothly. Many aspects of

26 which are not directly connected (Nardi, 1996). For the car to move forward it requires a driver. Thus, human to machine interaction is necessary at the very beginning. I will offer a brief review according to Nardi (1996), about all the steps it will take to be successful in getting the car with driver to move forward smoothly. First, is through getting into the driver seat where opening of front door is necessary. Next, the ignition through use of car keys, one applies the fine motor manipulation. Third, the system is added energy through pressing down the pedal slowly, here the head-foot communication assist in alternation process with the press down of the brake pedal. Next, one places the other foot down on clutch, while at same time braking, which requires simultaneous activity applied from prior-knowledge. After clutch balance, there is need for shifting the gear level from neutral to first gear by use of hand and in the process ensures fine motor articulation. Finally but importantly, After gearshift, releasing clutch with left foot, and brake with right foot, releasing gearshift knob with right hand, and placing on steering wheel steadily but slowly and then adding pressure to gas pedal with right foot. At last, the simultaneous operation moves the car forward. Admittedly, this leads one to think that driving a car can be difficult to do, or a sprocket on a bicycle has to deal with a circle with teeth sticking out of it, and makes the bike move. Both of which are of course correct, and demonstrate exactly what the researchers want you to remember about their work. This explains that, to learn is to understand how some things must work with other things i.e. meshing in order to be done. Next, I will Identify and analyze each of the parts that make up the Informing System.

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Psychology in support of the Informing System Psychology, as an academic discipline as well as a profession has a tremendous knowledge base to be able to reference from. Child Psychology too is a very well researched topic. The purpose of discussing child psychology here is to enter into a current discussion pertaining to young students self-motivation, or teacher assigned purpose, in their direction for completing an on line (web-based) reading assessment. In general, many young students are asked to answer questions about reading topics in school. In this case, according to Brown, Collins and Duguid (1989), this is what may be considered a standard operating procedure (SOP). The elementary school teacher asking the questions though, most likely anticipates many possibilities for what a child may offer as the correct answer. Why is this so? A vast amount of psychological analysis at the elementary level has been implemented to take on this issue. Nobody denies that, young children that go to an elementary school are aged between 4 years and 11 years old (Pre-Kindergarten to 5th Grade) in most cases. The age 11 has been added here because a child may be held back, to repeat a year if his or her yearly assessment indicated that the child was not ready to move forward (New York City Department of Education, 2011). To use a current analogy, an elementary school students knowledge base can be compared to taking a hard drive out of its box and plugging it into a computer for the first time (Graham, 2008). Yes, the child comes to school with basic, fundamental working knowledge. Knowledge generated by immediate family members.

28 Clearly, then, Parents, siblings, and other cases the extended family members may be possibly present in the enlightenment of youngsters (Allen & Wilson, 2003). On the contrary, this knowledge foundation is not what makes answering web based reading comprehension questions possible. Creating a working knowledge base in order to answer any question in school, specifically an academically pointed question takes time and comprehension. This is of both the content that directs the reason for the question, and the knowledge needed to formulate an answer to the question (Barron, 2004). In the light of the topic of child psychology, it is easy to see that learning pertains to aiding a young student in a classroom setting. In this situation, I will now focus my attentions to two separate topics, first, learning to Read, and second, learning to read on line. In the same way, to remain specific in this studys main topic, I will briefly discuss child psychology as it pertains to both Learning to read as well as learning to read on line. In elementary school, where children enter into classrooms having little to no prior knowledge on topics that will be presented, Informing Systems must be put to use quickly. In a school system such as New York City, where open enrollment and multiple cultures are involved, informing the schools population becomes a primary concern. According to NYCDOE (2011), translation becomes necessary in cases where, incoming students and their parents do not necessarily communicate with the schools administration, or the students teacher in the same language. Example, this is the situation where a child commences classes not having mastered the schools primary language and being very young.

29 Following this further, we are then able to start comprehending the mounting issues many students in New York City face on a day-to-day basis. In being presented with this understanding, we now come to the point of the child sitting in a classroom, being spoken to in a language, that might or might not be fully comprehendible to him or her, and asking that child to interact with textual content either in a book or on a computer screen (Brown & Campione, 1996). As discussed earlier, defining the fact that communication clarity must be incorporated into the Informing System and that meshing this aspect with other variables within the act of informing; it paves the way to analyzing the next aspect that goes into considering child psychology as it pertains to learning to read at the elementary level. Now, that a student has started the learning process, in an actual classroom, let us now look at what tools he or she may choose to use to promote this ability to learn how to read. According to Lipsey and Wilson (1993), studying the efficacy of psychological, educational, and behavioral treatments of students was accomplished. This work analyzed how different methods of instruction, produced different outcomes with different students. The research concluded with one significant finding, which was not statistically supported in the study. The finding was that, out of the studied population of students ages 10 to 15, no single teaching method used, resulted in summative assessments scores increasing above a single standard deviation. Following this further, this finding had me seeking for more information on how students attitudes affected their learning. In the first place, I will discuss the Students attitudes toward computer. According to Selwyn (1997), validation of a computer attitude scale for 16-19 education has been used

30 in modified forms to act a model for understanding, what generates interest and focus of the student while using a computer. Besides that, this model for understanding was a concept that came out of an earlier research project by Wideman and Owston (1993), where they researched Knowledge base construction as a pedagogical activity. This research, analyzed the systematic learning process that seemed to be replicated repeatedly by young children in a school setting. According to Wideman and Owston (1993), they had observed at procedures both students and teachers were using in classrooms during primary reading instruction lessons in elementary schools. In year 1993, school classrooms were not all wired for the Internet (Bloomeyer, 2002). Many schools would have their math departments, or a dedicated computer lab in which to rotate through, as many elementary students as possible. Besides that, it was through the later 90s that many more schools and school systems would watch the prices for computer technology drop to a level that made it more possible to have more computers in the schools (Woo, 2008). Through further reading of the work of Allen and Wilson (2003), Information Overload: Context and cause, lead me to many of my previous research. This research provided me a platform, an actual question pertaining to a students motivation to gain more information. Even with primary communication between teacher and student being a potential issue, the actual content and context seemed at the start of this research to be a non-issue, a variable that would not require that much attention. Furthermore, through Braukmann (1993), Designing technology education activities for elementary students and Caidi (2001), what is it and what are the implications

31 for information seeking, question of Content and Context primary communication among student and teachers become important. Nobody denies that, it is within the understanding of a students perception of content and context with seemingly unrelated topics, where they try to mesh and make it important to him or her (Bryant & Bryant, 1998). An analogy here might assist me in clarifying this concept. A student reads a sentence in a book because he was told to do so by his teacher. If the sentence is an instruction, he will read it one-way, while if the sentence is a question, he will read it yet, another way. However, if the sentence is about something of general interest to that boy, the sentence will have yet another version uttered. There by educators to try to find more ways to bring into classroom past discussions experiences the students have. Unquestionably, creating motivation in a young student to read more on an uninteresting topic has been an educational issue for decades (Case, 2010). Most student concentrate on their line of work or study and neglect information that may be essential some time later. In the light of neglect for decade about extensive reading, it leads me to discuss about reading online. Up to this point, I have presented a literature review that has introduced research concerned with the pedagogy of young students as it pertains to the active meshing of their perceived method of becoming informed to that of relating their current interests in promoting a greater sense of self-motivation in wanting to read more. The observing lens has now been brought into more focus on the actual educating process needed to get an intended concept of information across to a given student, or body of students whose age

32 does not exceed 11 years old. By analyzing a childs motivation as a question related to their actual psychological ability to comprehend what they have just read because they were motivated to read it, we must ask that student a question (Cooper, 2002). Following this further, in asking a young student to verbalize with sound, or by writing out their recollections on paper, we as educators are seeking understanding. Elementary school classroom teachers, as the title suggests, deal with elementary educational topics. The key word here is Elementary. Working with prior knowledge, as what is done regularly in middle school grades six through eight as well as high school grades nine through twelve, allows for the reviewing of knowledge introduced in elementary as well as middle school. This rises out questions: o What prior knowledge is Elementary school working off? o What comes before Elementary School grades? o Should Pre-Kindergarteners new knowledge provide Kindergartners with some prior knowledge? o If alphabet letter knowledge, letter names, and letter phonics are not known in Pre-kindergarten, what is the residue prior knowledge going to be? At this point, this understanding about how prior knowledge can affect the following years progression is an important concept to grasp. Prior knowledge on a given topic provides for a point of reference. In elementary level education, the concepts, Hard and Soft concepts are introduced by using physical objects. According to Elliot, (2003) and James, Carmichael, Drummond, Fox & MacBeth, (2007), having concepts experienced not simply defined is the true concept of an elementary education.

33

Learning how to read online. Moving forward with the concept of experiencing concepts, rather than simply having them defined, brings me to the concept of learning how to read on-line. Indeed, there are similarities in skills used in reading a book compared with skills necessary to be able to read on line (Kinzie, Sullivan, Berdel, 1992). In the light of the similarities, it is easy to see that idea of concrete compared with abstract. Real books have a cover, sometimes called and digital versions of books are designed to look the same on a computer screen. On the contrary, the physical book, has texture, weight, mass, real paper, real ink on the paper, and in the end an entity that may take up real space on a shelf. In general, the digital or more current term used is virtual book that is either an actual photocopy of a collection of pages from a book, or is scanned and saved to a computer. To be sure, according to Mann and Schaffer (1997), the content is completely generated within a computer software program that is then run, and then presents a book with pages and text. While the content can be very well represented, the context changes tremendously. Within this literature review, I have presented many researchers that have done extensive research at the middle and elementary school levels. Working with students who are and are not able to communicate at a mastery level in the schools primary language used, here being English. At this level, through various authors, we have been presented with research that describes the benefits of taking the time to solidify the concrete concepts prior to introducing the broader more abstract concepts in the elementary years of education.

34 Through this type of process, the young mind is able to benefit from, which is called prior knowledge (Kieft, 1988). In expecting a young student to be able to manage the differences between a real book and a virtual one, we must be sure the original concept (a book) has had time to be understood (Jonassen, 2000). In general, teaching a child to learn to read a web- based page, involves that child successfully taking a leap of faith, strong devotion and interest but through knowledge and guidance. In other words, that child needs to be able to understand the concept of book while at the same time, operating a computer (Kopcha & Sullivan, 2008) and (Kulic & Kulic, 1991). According to Hultgren & Limberg (2003), in actual practice, there is no turning of pages while reading on line there are no pages in a virtual book; there actually is a real absence of a book. The pages we pretend to turn are really animations, a computer generated image that the viewer perceives as a visual representation of a similar concept in abstract (Kulik, 1994; Hultgren & Limberg, 2003). All of which indicates that an elementary student needs to understand how the informing System works. That all aspects of the process in becoming informed at the elementary level require being formally introduced to each of the previously introduced, knowledge sets.

Application support for the Informing System The Informing System will be modeled and defined in detail in the supporting subsections. This system takes place in most elementary school classrooms today it just has

35 not been officially labeled as such. Defined broadly here as; that process by which students are informed, within a formal classroom setting in an elementary school today. Therefore, this studys attention will be limited to one New York City elementary school, in one of New York Citys Department of Educations (NYCDOEs) school Districts. The demographics of which were mentioned previously in the Introduction. This subsection will offer arguments for its use, both in support- as well as against via, previous studies completed on similar subjects. I will be using Informing System to denote method for instruction within an elementary school to be used with elementary school students. My target specifically, fifth graders. According to Russell (2002), Informing System provides an educational researcher the ability to observe single phenomena through careful analysis. In this case, I will use the metaphor of a cameras telephoto lens. Pursuing this further, the lens can be adjusted to allow for broad view and or all-encompassing stance. This offers the researcher ability to retract this lens focal point all the way down to Micro (sharp). For it too is a system of differently curved pieces of glass working in conjunction to provide a user, the ability to focus on things far and near while at a standpoint (Clark, 1983). At this point, I will concentrate on Maule (1996) his study of Information Theory and Research. Furthermore, I intend to include Marzano, Pickerings and Pollock (2001), summary work of Research-based-strategies for increasing student achievement. In the same way, the main idea in this study is the implementation of a Predictable operating system within methods of instruction. The primary difference with this works research focus compared to that of most of my other referenced works is the population used (under

36 this case High School student research was used in the summary, not elementary) (Marzanos, Pickerings & Pollock, 2001). Assuredly, in elementary schools across our nation, teachers introduce, review, and assess the amount of retained information presented. To increase retention of many concepts, mnemonic devices are used. Example, teachers teach young children to sing the letter names of our alphabet, days of the week, and months of the year. Teachers create a 100 box where all numbers that end in Zero come first in the first column. Why do teachers use these devices? In the light of Oakan, Weiner and Cromer (1971), it is easy to see that, teachers do so because over time and through the actual application, long-term retention of this knowledge has been accomplished. Using in a classroom, devices that work in conjunction with other aspects of a learning activity provide me a means of introducing learning theory into this literature review. I wish to add here, that there are many more well researched, academically motivated, and very closely related theories that could probably be worked into a study such as this, yet for purposes of conciseness and brevity, I have chosen only three that I believe best represent the motivation behind broadly applying the concept of an Informing System. According to Nardis (1996), Context and Consciousness: Activity Theory and Human-Computer Interaction, he brings into focus the use of camera lens analogy under the concept, Activity Theory. From the position of the human subject completing the activity, to all the different necessary interactions that take place to undertake the activity, all are placed under the same telephoto lens of observation. This focuses on humans

37 interact actions with technology, and the learning from the interaction. Additionally, he breaks down in her research a very complex system of operations that many drivers on the roads today, would rather not try to comprehend (Nardis, 1996). These drivers just complete the activity because they have the prior knowledge to be able to do it. The main concept behind his work is the establishment of an Informing System. To explain this further, if a human gets into a manual car and does not have the prior knowledge required to operate this type of vehicle, the results will not be the desired ones. A simultaneous operation accompanied by a network of activity (meshing) is required to allow for movements. Certainly, the informing gap widens as more sprockets do not mesh up or operate simultaneous to generate the required activity. According to Nardi (1996), he supports using and implementing the larger concepts of context (Ways and means an activity is to be completed) and consciousness. Similar to this concept, researchers looks at a problem, the problem is defined, solutions to the problem are suggested, activity pertaining to the problem is started, results are concluded and finally, learning takes place. Consequently, according to Sears and Evemenova (2007), activity needs these parts to be able to be learned from; if there is a demonstrated lack of context, the activity will be unsolvable directly inhibiting the learning process. On the other hand, Consciousness refers to the state of being awake and aware of your surroundings (Nardi, 1996). This indicates that active consideration of ones surroundings is mandatory for understanding of ones current state of being. Thus together context and consciousness is the means by which activity, learning, takes place. Following

38 this further, according to Patrick (1997) research, Classifying Approaches to the Philosophies of Elementary School Technology, we are presented with almost a direct follow up to Nardis Theory of Activity Theory. He extends the concept of Activity Theory to include the ability to predict patterns with in an activity, which was able to produce assessments highlighting significant results in teaching (Patrick, 1997). No doubt, we have now been presented with two theorists that maintain the most effective means of providing for increased learning outcomes is by providing a systematic and predictable method of instruction to younger students. The informing system seems to continue to gain support through past research. The populations of interest, though different in age and maturity, are still quite similar in their learning capacities. To support my theories, Pettigrew and McKechnie (2001), the use of Theory in information science research, provided for the adhesion I was looking for in combining the theories. As this study falls directly under the domain of Information Science, their approach was the use of theory in generating and promoting applicable concepts to my research questions. However, the approach seems to be in complete alignment with the concept, Informing System as was initially brought up by Russell (Russell, 2001). This is so because within Pettigrew and McKechnie, the development of each question asked, is directly in response to a specifically identifiable and isolated issue within a learning activity. Researching questions in this way provides the analyst a means to study a problem from two stances at the same time. Once again using the cameras telephoto lens, offers both a close up as well as a wide-angle perspective of both the problem area as well as the

39 problem as it may appear in the entire system. According to, Maule (1998) Systems Thinking, Nardi (1996) Activity Theory and the application of Theory by Pettigrew and McKechnie (2001), theory in Information Science Informing System has been supported as an appropriate theory in which to use for aiding in the analysis of the questions listed above (Russell, 2001). Besides that, prior to continuing onto actual activity analysis, we can look back to concepts that have been discussed under my literature review. The previous discussions have indeed looked at Pedagogy, and Psychology applied to elementary education. The concept of theory too has been reviewed offering academic research findings to add support to directions, for the advancement of the knowledge base for this domain. What has been considered at this point has been the act of instruction and pedagogy, and in addition, the actions of the students receiving the instruction and psychology. What still needs to be discussed in this review prior to going on to actual application of the Informing System is the concept of the students process of receiving and or comprehending, which may or may not be as predictable to deal with, as it seemed to have been in past classroom settings. Afterwards, the obvious question here becomes, why the act of receiving and or comprehending is vital to the Informing system. Obviously, according to (Soe, Koki, and Chang, 2000), feedback is essential. Without feedback, we cannot check if all the activities and systems are operating simultaneously to generate require energy (sprockets and meshing up theory). Elementary school math teachers will ask their students if they checked you check their work. In other words, they ask this to ensure students verify their work without the teacher having to do it for them. According to, Swift, Gooding and Swift

40 (1988), once a student can check his or her own work for correct answer and process, then and only then has the complete activity been successful. In the meanwhile, to expound on feedback, feedback is what many computer scientists refer to as a programs response to in-put data (Thode, 1989). Computer programs, or computer applications, are really scripts of data that are placed in a computer system that produce what we see on computer screens (Valdez, 2010). According to (Valdez, 2010), the content of a computer program generates the scenes, characters, action, and input capability of some educational programs. The main point being made here is that these computer applications present the end user with information that must be both well received as well as comprehended. According to Herron and Lindamood (2010), this behavior assists computers, to be able to offer the end user clearly defined choices that the previously presented information would naturally lead. Furthermore, according to Traynor (2003), in computer-assisted-instruction on different learners, he studied the different effects different programs had on different students. What was learned was that the system of informing the student to use the program had to be done in such a way as to promote the highest level of information receive-ability. This is to say that each student that used the studys instrument computer program came away with different levels of liking or not liking the program. He analyzed the results of the instrument and analyzed an attitude survey handed out at the end of the experiment and learned that the students that strongly liked the program in most cases did the best in the program (Traynor (2003). On the contrary, the kids who disliked the program did poorly

41 on the program. We observe here that, receiving ability and comprehension are significant variables to consider when analyzing interactive lessons within a classroom setting (Walberg &Walberg, 1985). Though computer output may be highly predictable, when the input is predictable and known, output including input from young students is not nearly as predictable (Wallace, 2004). While I have broached the topic of computers being used to transfer information in a predictable way with young students, the more traditional way still is an effective method too. The more traditional way is with a classroom teacher in presenting and discussing new topics with young children. Indeed, according to Williams, Stewart and Slack (1996), young child uses language to communicate wants and needs to the adults around them. At the same time, computers depend on language to produce the required action that set up a program operating (Williams, 2008). The required action is the expected feedback a computer program will offer when the input matches all the internal programs requirements to produce the wanted outcome (Wideman, Owston, 1993). Further, I will discuss possibility that, keeping learning on track has been one of the primary roles teachers in elementary classrooms have suffered with over the years. According to Zhao and Pugh (2002), this problem arises in situations where the receivers end is not effective and information is not well comprehended. This leads me to question if Informing System was perfect in years past when computer technology had not yet entered into the elementary classroom. Certainly, no, this is because so much research on teaching children had not been done up to that point, teachers in the classrooms themselves had not

42 learned or comprehended what they had been instructed. The answer for many, if not all these ponderings is the same. The Informing System is and will remain a Living and an adaptable system. According to Russell (2001), this is fuelled by the variable nature of its Information Input Source a child. Generally speaking, every system has different states of being (Maul, 1998), the inactive state, the data entry state, the responsive or responding state, and the user feed-back state- providing the computer system with feedback in which to augment its program to produce more closely the results desired. This type of activity works well with computer programs using predictable feedback based on statements within a program. However, childrens feedback is in many cases far from predictable, and in many cases, it will not work well in a well-defined feedback based program. This concludes my part on application of informing system, and next I discuss on Educational technology under this same aspect.

Inclusion of Educational Technology that supports the Informing System To start with, educational technology is a label that the New York City Department of Education gives to all aspects of computer use within a classroom, in any school of which it administers (NYCDOE, 2010). The special certificate a teacher must hold to be able to teach computers in the New York City Department of Education is CST 71 as an Educational Technology Specialist. According to NYCDOE (2010), a teachers license area can be including any generalist classroom teacher at the elementary level to a high

43 school subject specific teacher, such as an English Literature or U.S. History Teacher. I will focus on the elementary school requirements in this area; a teacher must hold a common branch license, which may include Pre-Kindergarten, Kindergarten, and Grades up to sixth Grade. There are also specialists licenses that allow teachers to teach topics, subjects, such as Speech, which focus on improving verbal communication. English as a second language, which concentrates on incorporating students whose family, communicate primarily using a language other than English. This study is analyzing a fifth grade in one such New York City Elementary School. New York City elementary school has teachers that are generalists holding a common branch (CB) license, as well as any one of the credentials mentioned above. It has 100% New York State and New York City certified, and appointed in place teachers teaching in it. There are also Para-professionals, who are working towards a city certificate, as well as teaching aids that enter classrooms as certified helpers in a class whose class size could benefit from the addition of another adult in the room (NYCDOE, 2010). The establishment of a (NYCDOE) staff higher archly is important to grasp, when discussing the Informing System that takes place with such a building. The Principal is charged with running the physical building, the finances of the building, the administration of the building and its staff, any assistant principals, and of course all the teachers, teaching assistants, student teachers, Para-professionals, and of course the aids and kitchen and custodial staff. Of course, the principal is the most as the person who puts into place the teaching methodology and aligned theory that is to support his methodology. This is to say that the

44 schools assessment results are monitored by the office of the Superintendent, who directly analyses the reports presented and in most cases decides if the direction his Principals is taking is producing the desired outcomes. The desired outcomes usually are in the form of raised scores in reading, writing, and math. How then are Principals best able to have their assessments reflect the best efforts of their teachers in their buildings? This is by providing professional development to their staff in support of that Principals methods and theories backing their concept of an Informing System. Undoubtedly, the Informing System of an elementary school should become the engine behind every included subject instructed, and teacher teaching method, all the way up to and including the Principals administration within that school. How does this happen? It must be introduced slowly and methodically into any new setting. To explain this I will discuss bottom up model for information flow.

The Informing System is a bottom-up model for information flow. To begin with, the students become the first users of the new informing system (Russell, 2010). It is important to keep in mind at this stage that this discussion is presenting a concept in support of a system that promotes learning through the presentation of information at an elementary level. Keeping this aspect in direct context to the previous discussion of Pedagogy in support of the Informing System and Psychology in support of the Informing System, we are now better able to understand the importance of Application support for the Informing System. However, the question still lingering is that of the actual application of the

45 informing system. What does application support look like for an informing System within an elementary school? To explain this is will highlight concepts of informing system. Granted, in New York City Department of Education Elementary School, informing application support could be defined as that equipment brought into a classroom that directly promotes the use and academic development of all subject content presented within that same classroom. This Includes all computer hardware, software, projecting devices, and in some cases a supporting audio devices. In addition, according to Martens, Valcke and Portier (1997), the chalkboard and or the White board can and may be included in the genre of Informing System peripheral devices. In my previous discussion, the schools Principal is responsible for the professional development of the teaching staff as far as the staff is made knowledgeable about the current teaching, informing, methodology and supporting theory. This is accomplished in order to provide the end user- the student, with the most viable means in which to become informed (Lyons, Pinnell & Deford, 1993). Knowing about an Informing System and using an Informing System have been, and remain Academias biggest issue to date (Imel, 2010). Schools from Elementary to Middle Schools, up to and including High Schools continuously struggle with the better ways in which to keep their student populations current in their information gathering skills (Lepper, 1985). While on the other hand, the skills all these schools also notice needs constant experimenting in their students skills in their Information retrieval and comprehension (Kulik, Kulic & Bangert-Drowns, 1985). Admittedly, once these issues mentioned, have been incorporated into the larger

46 picture of the Informing System, the supporting pieces may better be analyzed for their realized benefits to the system. This ability to study the end users interactions with the content of the presented topics, via a classroom teacher or a classroom computer wired to view the Internet, or both simultaneously can be done in a few ways. The formal way of observing advancement in a single skill set is through assessment (Kohn, 2005). Kohn researched the need for assessment literate teachers. In this work, it was learned that many teachers generated their own assessments for lessons presented to students. This work discovered that many questions asked by teachers were done so providing the greatest flexibility in generating an answer. Furthermore, according to Kohn (2005), for an elementary level class assessment this would normally be expected, yet his population of interest was High school. This indicated that skills learned for test giving by teachers at the elementary level were being applied still at the higher levels. More so, information gathering was not being effectively instructed. His researches lead me to conclude that, an elementary school in New York City fell into the same category of information access issue Kohn (2005). Arguably, if the act of getting a child informed, and the acts necessary to keep the child informed continue to cause schools, especially elementary schools, we need to question their current version of their Informing system, why have researchers been unable to come up with an ideal system. One possible direction to answer this question could be the students leaning environment. This affects greatly ways in which student interact with other student, teachers and the whole community as a whole.

47 Educational technology use within a regular education classroom. Children, when presented with new things, smells, tastes, feelings, sounds, and sights respond to them by communicating outward their experiences, explained better under Vygotsky model (Vygotsky, 1978). Children constantly are experimenting with their senses. A childs ability to order these memories was studied by Raudenbush in (Raudenbush, 2005). Under his concepts, we can be able to analyze what improves learning in school. True, the development of a curriculum around adding to a childs prior experiences based on his or her Primary senses improves learning. The more the physically interactive the primary lesson was, the more the child was able to revisit an aspect of the previously presented lesson. At this point, I will focus on Interactive piece. In the school, there are regular Education classrooms, special education classrooms, pullout or special topic rooms. Comprising these are speech amenities, computer Lab, art room, music room, lunchroom, gymnasium, and an auditorium. The remaining sub sections of this literature review will focus on the Regular education classroom and the computer Lab. Interactive lessons are designed to maintain the highest level of student engagement. Student engagement was discussed within both previous discussions of Pedagogy as well as Psychology. The reason being that as Vygotsky alluded to, to promote learning recall of topics presented to children; the primary senses must be engaged. According to Vygotsky (1978), mind in Society: the development of higher psychological processes, discusses the Zone of Proximal development. Within (ZPD) we are presented with how interactions between children at one point in their physical

48 development will change with maturity, or any increase of time. Presented in the illustration below we learn this further. NB: Zone of Proximal development shaded.

Zone of Proximal Development

Illustration 1: Vygotsky (1978) This is a significant point to make in this study at this time. Please note that my population of interest is a 5th grade elementary class. This indicates within the NYCDOE, that my population has in most cases not achieved the age of 11 years. Under Vygotsky, this group is still very much at the less mature spectrum of the formal zone of development (Vygotsky, 1978) Consequently, this aspect of developmental learning is also supported by Price (2004), and Ruddell & Unrau (2004). Prices work analyzed the individual differences in learning via exploring cognitive control, and cognitive learning styles. Looking very closely at the ages that the most significant learning growth periods took place. Elementary

49 school, ages 5 to 10 filling a majority of the largest growth period. Rudell & Unrau (2004) generated theoretical models and processes for reading at these same levels, and concluded that the processes undertaken in elementary levels of academic work were what the student most reverted to when a new or unfamiliar method was introduced in later periods. To explain this further, within the regular education classroom then the informing system must be interactive, and age appropriate, as may be determined within the scaffolding of the zone of proximal development within a given classroom. The primary senses of the child need to be engaged. The computer hardware and software that the student will be expected to use is to be determined age appropriate as well. According to Ciofalo & Wylie, (2006), the application and inclusion of the educational technology in a regular education classroom promotes at every level engagement of the senses and interest of the child. It is usually the most current applicability of educational technology that causes the Informing System in place, to seem, in need of review (Russell, 2010). Russell and Plati work (2001), Effects of computer versus paper administrations of a State-mandated writing assessment was one of the pivotal pieces that directed this studys direction for research. Additionally, inspirational work was a follow up research project completed by only Russell (2002), Bridging the Gap Between testing and technology in schools, which culminated in his research on this closely related issue, Testing on computers: A follow up study comparing performance on computer and paper ( Russell, 2005). All of this research was undertaken at elementary through college level environments. Thus, my projects population was one in which Russells (2002), larger concept of the informing system

50 could be readily used with and the assessments in place could serve as a formative as well as a summative assessment instrument for this research project. Specifically, the environments used in these prior studies by Russell and Plati (2001), were both regular education as well as computer lab situations. Both of which were the researched settings in both Russells (2002), individual work as well as Russell and Plati (2001), joint research. Next, I need was research on either support or non-support for the method of using both formative and summative assessment in conjunction with educational technology in both the regular education classroom as well as the computer lab classroom setting. In this, I was able to locate a synthesis of new research on K-12 Online learning that did indeed support this direction of curriculum planning. As concluded by Smith, Clark and Blomeyer (2005), On-line learning required skills both from the reading and from writing disciplines, but strongly recommended new skills being taught simultaneously in the realm of computer literacy. The motivation for a regular education classroom teacher to start using educational media in a distinctive way, for specific purposes was undertaken (Neuman, 1992). Pursuing this further, In Neuman work (1992) [whether] is learning from media distinctive by examining childrens inference strategies, we learned that indeed childrens inference strategies are very much affected by the media used. He examined how different forms of media, books, radio, video, computer technology were able to effect change in memory recall (Neuman, 1992). Like, Vygotsky, and Piaget- Neuman also saw great differences in how much a child was to be affected by media at different stages of maturity. Results were as predicted, completed by previous studies- although the addition of

51 computers to the list of media to effect change on students memory recall was, also supported. The computer was mentioned to support the audio, visual, and interactive aspects of a highly engaging lesson. What might be termed today becomes the students best chance for the greatest amount of information the significance though was low, according to Neuman (1992) testing. The reason being, the children when interviewed later recalled best how the lesson was conducted. Admittedly, as a teacher myself, I found this information highly predictable. So many teachers make their lessons highly engaging, and stimulating to the childs senses, yet it remains the act of the content being stored that the Informing System seems to lack in purpose. Next, I will analyze on the aspects of computer lab support for informing system. A Computer Lab supports the Informing System. It is within a Computer Lab situation where the Informing System regains that which was lost in a Regular Education Classroom. This may state due to the sensory immersion, which takes place within such a setting. As we have been presented earlier with in earlier discussion of pedagogy, the setting too is a variable that can either increase the motivation to learn or similarly decrease it (Fisher, 2005; Goodyear, 2000). Following this further, according to Case (2010), the pending potential for increased activity; itself may be a learning environment change. In DeGennaros (2008) research of, Learning Designs: An analysis of youth-initiated technology use, the concept of a computer itself, being considered a learning environment was established. This concept of a single computer becoming a learning environment was well developed by the concept of an end-user having to navigate around to get to certain points.

52 Indeed, the ability to complete certain activities was accomplished by completing clusters of specific tasks, i.e. skill sets. It was this understanding that supported further the concepts I mentioned in pedagogy in support of the informing system. Youngsters are more prone to fun activities and are more playful during this period while completing other tasks. To expound on this, Fun, defined using a Websters Dictionary reads as amusing, entertaining, or enjoyable is what any child near 11 years old, is exactly what they wish to do at any given time. Which indicates some sort of activity is actually desired by a child. According to Nadri (1996), Context and Consciousness: Activity Theory and Human-Computer Interaction, activity is condition in which things are happening or being done, and in the state at which things are being done, a process for assessment has been developed either internally or externally. The decision was made, a judgment was made and the outcome from completing the activity was enjoyable. Children will continue to make an assessment during all stages of the formative time in an activity or at the conclusion of the same activity. A child, being a child under the age of 14 years will continue to make decisions on a single activity on an ongoing basis until that activity is complete (Christmann, Lucking& Badgett, 1997). At this point, a unique situation then presents in this literature review. The previously referenced authors have together presented a situation in which learning takes place for children, prior to entering a physical environment (Greenhow, 2008). According to Greenhow (2008), he was able to demonstrate that children are more than capable of learning inside as well as outside of the formal classroom. Greenhow simply took a few lesson plans from teachers and their books and pencils, and presented the very same

53 content in different rooms and settings. Identical assessments were given to students who were both instructed in the regular setting as well as the different settings. The results were significant in their reporting of raised achievement scores on the students who visited other rooms or settings. This finding though is not surprising to any elementary school teacher. When children have acclimated to a room completely, where the yearning to explore it has vanished, activity in that room drops. Activity, is directly associated with exploring (Hamza, 2003). Following this further, just like in Nardis example of driving the standard car forward, the activity becomes a challenge in how fast one can make it go forward, or how smoothly one can down shift it back to a complete stand still (Nardi, 1996). Learning is in the exploration, not in the acceptance of a given state (Maul, 1998). In conclusion, to this subtopic, we now have some confirmation within the presented research that a childs expectation to explore, within a computer lab, is indeed a motivation to enter the physical environment and start an activity. In wishing to start an activity, the child is demonstrating a yearning to learn (Park, Clements& Douglass, 1995). The means of assessments that support the Informing System Initially, according to Black and William (2006), in elementary schools, information is presented to the students in most cases, in addition, the concept, the story, the computer application and method of following rules and so on. This is method of generalized instruction is done for a specific purpose. Generalized instruction on a new concept has been the model for elementary pedagogy for decades (Black & William, 1998).The reasoning by Hahn (1996), behind generalized instruction is to support the

54 growth and raised amounts of knowledge for the entire group of students rather than the benefit and growth of a single student. Indeed, trouble began in the development of ways in which knowledge growth could be monitored and increased, while also recording past growth periods, noting strengths and weaknesses within growth periods. According to Hultgren and Limberg, (2003), assessments were then developed to assess if students were able to remember the content of the previously presented material. Generally, in todays elementary schools, this need for assessment has increased. Student assessment no longer simply tries to gain information on how much a student remembers about a lesson presented. As discussed by Leung (2007), the act of assessment has now become the means to becoming better informed, more knowledgeable about the actual informing process within the academic domain. Clearly, then we need to ask ourselves, in what ways then have assessments been utilized within elementary schools currently? Though the researcher for this study is an elementary school teacher, and uses his schools assessment methods as his own, alternative methods of assessment needed to be researched as well. We need to know, who is to say that the methods in one school are indeed better then ones used in another school, or school system for that matter. Considering this further, the means by which so many schools these days are trending towards web based, or on-line assessments, I needed to understand better why the switch to this newer format of assessment was gaining speed while scores on these assessments were not supporting the switch (Black, 2008). As discussed by Clark (1993), I

55 we need to ask, what generally supports the move from paper-based assessment to web based seems to be the current act of reconsidering the research on learning from media in the classroom. Arguably, for years now, student achievement in many subjects has not moved in either direction. From 1986 to now, the trend in reading, writing, and mathematical assessment reporting has indicated a stalling of sorts. As pointed out by Chambers (1997), this is directly reflecting an inability to promote raised activity within the realm of elementary learning. In Chambers work, the technology consideration is our main question. Following this further, my body of research focused on a middle school population. Middle school aged range in age between 11 to 14 years. NB: This range may vary due to the issue of a child repeating a grade (NYCDOE, 2010). In this study using this population, the questions results were significant. More so according to Chambers (1997), the presence of more current communication technology in the school setting promoted a greater interest in what was being presented. This is, from using books, magazines, telephones, film strip projectors, television, radios, and computers, the potential for more actual interaction between the educational technology and the student, potential increase for activity rose. In the light of the Nardis (1996), concept of Activity Theory, It is easy to see that there is more support for that theorys application within this study. To support this Russell (2002), Educational Technology or rather educationally purposed Communication technology produces greater potential for the informing system to take hold on its intended applicable population.

56 According to Chaiklins (2003), research on the Zone of proximal development in Vygotskys analysis of learning instruction, it further supports the work completed by Russell (Russell 2002). As discussed by Chaiklin (2003), in analyzing to a greater extent Vygotskys theory on a younger population discovered that it was the tools employed by childrens teachers that made more prominent the previous work of Vygotsky himself. Additionally, if only books and paper and pictures from books are used in learning at the younger stages of development, which the interest of the child and his or her level of activity during the presentation to that media is at a very low level. Furthermore, Chaiklin (2003), places numerical values on interactivity within each zone of Vygotskys zone of proximal development (ZPD). In this situation, this explains low numbers for low interactivity or engagement, and higher numbers for higher levels of engagement. They are similar within each zone, pertaining to the stage of physical and mental development each child was in when being studied. Furthermore, Chaiklin (2003) too referenced Clarks(1983), Reconsidering research on learning from Media (1983), which I highlight here to demonstrate that much of the studies I use within this research project were indeed cited in other referenced studies within this project.

NB: To explain the ZPD effects and concepts I will make an illustration of Zone of proximal development (1978) through: Vygotskys Sociocultural Theory of Learning

57

Illustration 2: Vygotskys (1978): Kristinsdottir, (2003). http://tadahgroup.wordpress.com/vygotskys-theory-2/ According to Vygotskys Zone of proximal development (ZPD) (1978), child development of intellectual is maximized through instructions. The development depends on social interactions and assistance by an adult; addition, the use of assessment as instructional devices becomes more evident and significant as we see an increased presence of more and more current educational technology placed in both a regular as a well as a specialized classroom. Furthermore, through comprehending that activity produces a higher rate of retained information, i.e. Learning, we now are better able understand that age and maturity leads to a more comprehensible means to focus on the entire presented experience. Following this understanding, of knowledge acquisition the formal informing system that defines the real need for accurate assessment. This process of operating within the informing system then requires an even better means for system alignment. A more defined process of checks and balances which promotes the smooth meshing of different

58 levels of information within the different zones, as in (ZPD) or the different levels of activity, as well as the general interest of each student. In the same way, according to the understanding of Dunn and Mulvenon (2009), this present to the current educators that, elementary school teachers especially, that practices that seemed to have worked years ago in seemingly similar classroom setting will no longer work today. The level of interaction between teacher and students at the elementary level has not changed significantly in over 75 years (Ine, 2002). Following this further, what has changed significantly, is the volume of potential presentable information. An elementary school once could only present to its students, which was found in a book, in a book that the school held either on a shelf in the classroom or the school library. Additionally, the computer technology is now able to present that same student almost an unlimited number of texts, photos, audio and visual clips, as well as real time and current audio and video presentations (Kurilovas, 2005). Assessment today then has to be both objective as well as subjective. It has to be able to provide the administrator greater understanding, while provide its user a means to supplement the missing knowledge, and then augment the informing so that the gap, that which needs to be learned, is filled in. Once this occurs the assessment administrator should then be able to check back to see if the formative assessment provided the missing element, by offering a summative assessment (Bell & Cowie, 2000). To explain this further, its through using both formative assessment and as summative assessment that educators become better informed in how their instruction is producing the desired effect. According to Crooks (1988) research project, The impact of

59 classroom evaluation practices on students, it was learned that many teachers only used formal or numerically produced results as their summative assessment to produce, a tally of grades to offer support of their final grade for the term for that student. This means that, according to research project (1988), the process of using only quantitative information in judging a students work out-put as sufficient or adequate, was considered the norm. Undoubtedly, academic research currently employs multifaceted approaches to what may seem outside the school setting, as only two-dimensional problems. However, it was this same basic understanding of the elementary curriculum within the academic domain, which lead more and more researchers to asking; what exactly is being tested? If students were currently being assessed, tested one-way or the other, formative or summative, why was the content of that the assessment based using similar structure? According to work of Fuch & Fuch (1986), Effects of systematic formative evaluation: A meta-analysis, to start the preverbal ball rolling in the direction of supporting more research on such matters of aligning the content of a lesson as well as the means of information delivery, to the stage of assessment development. This revelation of matching, or rather better aligning the delivery method of new information, with the newer available educational technology, which students had already been using outside the classroom, was to be brought into the regular classroom. Besides that, this was later to be studied for effectiveness by Forman & Etchinson in (1991). During the early time of 1991, high speed Internet access was becoming more and more available to public schools in New York City. It took until 1993 for 95% of all schools under the administration of the NYCDOE to become fully Internet accessible. This

60 is not to say that those schools had the hardware to make possible the ratio of 1 student to 1 Internet using computer. This ratio of 1:1 still does not exist in New York City Schools, and the year is 2011. We need to analyses the question raised during these early times. Arguably, how is it that Fuch & Fuch in 1991, asked the question, tested it, and found it to be a significant and positive change to use computer hardware in a classroom. Consequently, the computer was then used it to support both the formative as well as the summative aspects of assessment, yet to date, the reported outcomes of such applications have not been up to expectations (Haney & Russell, 1999). In the light of, assessing how formative as well as the summative assessments were being delivered to the students, it was possible for the discovery of the comprehension disconnect (Kinzie; Sullivan & Berdel, 1992). A comprehension disconnect happens when the delivered content and the following questions pertaining to the just delivered content are not aligned. I will explain this with an example: In a situation where, in first grade, a grade appropriate, hard covered, paper paged book The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss, is read aloud to the class, and is turned around away from the reader to show the listening children the pages from the book. The informing system may be demonstrated at its most basic level. The teacher reads aloud the content of the book, page by page. Next, in order to accelerate the lesson and the story, two pages are read aloud, prior to showing the children the pictures on the same two pages; opening both pages of the book assist in offering a greater view. This demonstration method then allows for immediate multi-sensory input. The child hears the story, and then shortly sees the accompanying

61 story related pictures. According to Kinzie & Broihier (1992), at the end of set of pages read aloud and viewed, teacher/ reader questions are used to support the formative assessment of what was just introduced. The informing system changes states when the story that is usually read aloud by a teacher/reader becomes an interactive computer program that uses graphics and keyboard entries as input prompts to promote similar reading experiences. Now the use of the senses by the student becomes even more focused on his or her direct interaction with the content instead of the indirect interaction with the incorporation of the teacher/reader (Ouyang, 1993). Each word may now be clicked on. Each sentence now becomes a point of interaction, rather than simply looking a picture from far. The audio output from such a reading promotion program, i.e. Living Books: The Cat in the Hat provides the student a vastly more interactive means of getting, or becoming informed. As mentioned previously, during the presentation of the concept of Activity Theory, it supported that the learning process of becoming better informed was through activity. In the understanding of Nardi (1996), the interaction between user and was being used was vital and significant in the development of a working knowledge. Furthermore, according to Patrick (1998), he supports this further in its direct application to elementary classroom learning according to work in classifying approaches to the philosophy of elementary school technology education. Addition, this was also promoted by Sadler (1998), under, Formative assessment: revisiting the territory. Assuredly, under the study of informing system, it generates within it, a sense of motivation to learn more about the topic being presented. The system is comprehended, not

62 the content solely, the students own need to have concepts mesh becomes the driving force behind the informing system. Its the students own questions; then which dictate the speed and direction of the new means, to become informed. In other words, according to McLuhan (1964), the medium is the message, this theory still holds true in elementary schools. Pursuing the case of medium further, if the medium, {computer technology} inside a classroom becomes the message, we ask, what then is the content of the message? How should a response be generated? The answer to this question alone, directs, or should direct many more who work in academic assessment fields to sit up and pay attention. This is exactly where the current informing systems break down. At this point, according to Martinez & Martinez (1992), the informing gap becomes defined specifically at this point in time .The informing gap presents itself most clearly in the assessment process where a student in elementary school grade 5, has been instructed during a reading lesson to do certain activities. These may range from, listening to a passage and reading aloud to them, and then reading the same passage in a similar book that was used during the oral reading, and finally, writing On piece of loose-leaf paper or in a composition book responding to a question asked by the teacher, or respond in writing to a question that had followed the reading in the same book, or its corresponding work book. NB: At this level the formative assessment piece could start where: The student answers the first question in composition form, using complete sentences, and standard paragraph development routines, either print or script. Teacher collects writing response and scans it for standard errors; spelling,

63 punctuation, grammar, and writing purpose. Errors, if any, are noted and discussed with student. Student re-writes answer with corrections, and above process is repeated. Once all errors are corrected, the second phase of assessment begins. Next, the summative assessment piece could start The final edited version is hand written and handed in as a final draft. Finally, It is after several reading responses have undergone this formative assessment process, as is listed above, and several final drafts have been collected, that the book used to generate these responses is then ready to have its contents ready to be officially and formally reviewed for student comprehension, by the student taking a Book Level- Summative- assessment (Phillips, 1988). Noted, is that, this process has had many decades of success in analyzing the level of student comprehension noted at each elementary grade level. This involves: Real human voice by real human being read to real children. Paper in book and paper in front of child. Ink in book and ink or graphite (marks from a pencil) on paper. Human to Human Interaction (Student to Teacher/ Teacher to student) Formative assessment- paper to paper to paper Summative assessment-paper to paper to paper In the same way, according to Russell (2002), the informing system remains consistent from delivery to response. Up to this point in the assessment process, there is no informing gap that is present. This leads me to targeting specifically where this gap takes place.

64 As was mentioned previously, the informing system may be entered into from different points or states. This is explained below. According to Ryan (1991), in grade 5 elementary reading lessons some of the possible activities to take place include: Oral reading by the teacher may or may not take place. Reading a passage right from a textbook without prior knowledge of the specific reading can take place. Questions concerning the just read passage may or may not take place, in discussion or in writing. Formative assessment may or may not take place during the entire books reading period. Post, the assigned reading period, on a given book, summative assessment is usually undertaken. Following this, how then can the informing gap defined, if the informing system can be entered into at any point? To explain this we revisit McLuhans (1964), statement: The medium is the message. Placing the assessable qualities not in the text to be read and comprehended, but rather in the means to access it, we are now introduced to where the informing gap resides (Traynor, 2003). Arguably, in using educational technology to support reading comprehension, we are now augmenting and modifying the previous informing system, which is to add, that the informing system state is also changed. In understanding of Threlfall (2005), this highlights the fact that we are then changing the previous routine of activity in the

65 classroom, thus changing the way learning takes place. Following, what Nardi (1996) stipulated earlier that, it is in an activity that one learns, not in the absence of an activity, then if the tools presented in a previously established activity are changed, the activity itself must change as well. It must be then acknowledged that the assessment process must then change also, in support of the argument of consistency. Yet, we have discovered through this literature review that many times assessments have been utilized without the benefit of delivery consistency, thus presenting the informing gap. However, as the previous iterations of the informing system utilized consistency in the form of delivery, as was reviewed earlier, we are now presented with assessments riddled with inconsistencies. A reading curriculum using web-based formative and summative assessment connected with it, has now been started by the New York City Public School System to be better able to track and report on the successes and failures of each of the elementary schools reading curriculums. These test scores are intended to be used to indicate to district administrators, raised student engagement within the learning process (NYCDOE, 2010). When web-based assessments are applied appropriately to meet curricular goals, education technologies can provide alternative approaches to sustaining students interest, developing student knowledge and skills, and provide supplementary materials that teachers can use to extend students learning (Russell, 2002). However, as this literature review has demonstrated, applying it appropriately, may

66 not in most cases, be an easy task. According to Russell (2002), in 1998 a national survey of teachers also showed that 50 percent of k-12 teachers had students use word processors, 36 percent had them use CD-ROMs, and 29 percent had them use the World Wide Web. Clearly, then this indicates that the use of technology might be on the rise since 1998, additionally, this data indirectly states that traditional methods of presenting information to students has changed little in comparison with the newer technology. Moreover, according to Varlamis and Apostolakis (2006), K-12 teachers, thus still present new information to students via the traditional or older version of the presented Informing System, while attempting to push in newer technology. Indeed, it is during this period of change that many schools currently find their reading and writing curriculums in a state of flux and uncertainty. Within elementary schools in New York City, what to teach has not altered much within the last 20 years. What has changed is the amount of technology students may use on a daily basis in pursuit of higher levels of engagement within the learning process. At this level, a question in application of assessment is presented. If teachers in K12 classes still present new content using physical books with paper, how then, are teachers able to assess traditional skills using newer technologies? According to William, Lee, Harrison &Black (2004), the continuity of the curriculum alignment has now been altered. In general, Elementary schools within New York Citys Department of Education use such educational text book publishers like, Houghton Mifflin, Holt, Macmillan/ McGraw-Hill for many reasons. This is because, First, from Wininger (2005) understanding, because each publisher has had teams of academic researchers researching

67 in actual classrooms and speaking with schools administrators discussing topics, and what types of questioning should be employed at the end of each reading unit. This is accomplished to make valid and reliable the assessment outcomes each publisher cares to employ within their books. It is precisely this issue of making and keeping the results of formative and summative assessments valid and reliable that provides greater strength and support to the undertaking of this research project. According to Zandvliet & Farragher, (1997), when elementary schools attempt to use educational technology in roles of generating assessments, administrators must make certain that the curriculum is much more aligned to producing outcomes that may be made valid and reliable. Questionably, what makes the terms reliability and validity so important to this research project? The importance of these terms may be found in what is reported at the conclusion of the given assessments. In the understanding of William (2007), reliability is the consistency of a set of measurements or of a measuring instrument, often used to describe a test. On the other hand, according to Wang (2007), validity, having no single agreed upon definition, generally refers to the extent to which a concept, conclusion, or measurement is well founded and corresponds accurately to the real world. Admittedly, this leads researcher to seek more supporting information on how schools can support using educational technology, for the purpose of students undertaking web based formative or summative assessments, when the chosen informing system does not regularly implement the newer computer technology, at the initial presentation of the to be assessed information.

68 Unfortunately, little known research exists that has studied this precise question. Studies such as: The gender differences in an on-line learning environment by Barretts & Lallys (1999) Computer-assisted instruction (focused on middle school students using a word processor to write out reading responses) by Cottons (2005) Effects of word processing on sixth graders holistic writing and revision by Grejdas (1992) Computer anxiety and attitudes towards computer use by Igbarias and Chakrabartis (1990) More precisely, work of Kalyanpur and Kirmani in their (2005), Diversity and technology: Classroom implications of the digital divide. It highlights the differences in ethnic as well as male and female make ups of how children and young adults, age ranges of between 10 and 15, who used computer technology in the classroom. The younger the user, the more interested they were in the amusement capability of the machine, while the older the student, the more informative and current the machine kept them became the primary focus. Interesting within a classroom the presented purpose in using the machines was teacher driven in all cases in this study. Thus, the study focused on any significant differences in applied purpose between ethnically diverse groups as well as between boys and girls. On the contrary, in this study, boys were noted as using computers more towards the amusement side while girls the remaining current and informed was a primary

69 motivation. In the meantime, it was reported that the gap noted in 2005 was not significant and that the access to the available machines was dominated by the boys in the study. Girls were noted not signing up for time on the computers as much. Point in fact, this permits me to suggest that access time to a computer may be highlighted in future discussions as a significant variable to be incorporated into the determining of which informing system should be implemented into a specific classroom setting. If access time is a variable to deal with within the assessment period, then it must be done so on a completely equal basis. No doubt, another question that is dealt with very comprehensively in my readings is one of motivation. According to Kinzie, Sullivan, and Berdel (1992) studies, motivation is well focused. Motivational and achievement effects of learner control over content review within CAI (Computer-Assisted- Instruction). This is the concept supporting the use of computer technology within the classroom to either aid a student in the active reviewing of a previously presented topic, or rather used to augment initial information presentation. In the same way, the use of computer should be utilized in such a way as to provide the student with 1:1 instruction (1 student to 1 computer). Arguably, this trend is a highly discussed phenomenon in and around schools for years now. The proponents defend the concept by saying, students will learn more if they remain engaged. Indeed, the argument of Woodrow (2010) that computers alone promote raised levels of engagement is further supported. Assuredly, teachers in real classroom settings in addition, have strongly asked for computers to enter classrooms, just not at the 1:1 ratio in elementary schools (Zhang,

70 2010). This division has been present; however it has been poorly defined in the media and general academic write-ups as well. I have not been able to locate any research that specifically and undeniably argue for or against 1:1 computer use in the elementary school. I have though found profuse support for 1:1 to be present in Secondary and College level studies.

Information Studies supports the Informing system Under CAI (Computer Assisted Instruction), HCI (Human Computer Interaction), and IR (Information Retrieval) we look at skills that are necessary in being able to use Web-based applications as potentially accurate tools for elementary school level state and city mandated assessments. The informing gap must once again be brought to the forefront of assessment issues plaguing our elementary schools today. How can something so seemingly insignificant be so vital today? To answer the question I will discuss on consistency. According to Harrison; Hay; Pierson & Burton, (1992), Consistency is the repeating representation of a given pattern or design, providing for the ability to predict the future states of that pattern at any given time. Its this concept of consistency that provides for the maximum levels of active learning. A skeptic might ask how consistency can aid the active learning ability of a young student. Clearly, then when a student is presented with an unknown situation, varying levels of actual fear start to rise in that students psyche. Reason being, the Informing

71 System has not been properly populated by establishing the environmental settings (Sadler, 1989). In Sadler work (1989), Formative assessment: revisiting the territory (1989), we are presented with the analogy, Territory. That the setting in which one is presented information, is as important as the information it self. This research thus supports McLuhans the medium is the message. Obviously, educators at all levels in academia have long understood the importance of where the learning takes place, the classroom. However, the trouble has been what to place in that classroom along with the teacher and students. Up to now, we have looked at the student, the teacher, the teaching method, the computer hardware and software, and the educational theories supporting their cooperative and multi-interdisciplinary application within the classroom setting. So why, is it that at this point I choose to look back to the Marshal McLuhan (1964) statement the medium is the message? The medium according to McLuhan (1964) alluded to is the way in which the information can be received and comprehended by anyone. The medium is the Informing System (Graham, 2008). As human beings, we take in, all forms of information at any given time. We have five senses that are activated during every state of learning that takes place. Following this further, children learn continuously in and out of the classroom. What they learn is totally an individual experience. However, according to Valdez, McNabb, Foertsch, Anderson, Hawkes and Raack (2000), the experience is made up of a vast amount of recordable data. Through vision, hearing, touching, and yes tastingstudents actively associate daily instances into a learning moment. Each moment, in order

72 for learning to be able to take place, must be during an activity (Nardi, 1996). At this level, this understanding then places the concept of consistency in a position of great significance. According to sandler (1989), when a student is then able to use their prior knowledge, acquired during a previous activity, which is consistent with other prior experiences, fear is then more able to be moderately controlled. In being able to, in these types of situations, control their anxiety due to knowing more about the unknown; their recordable success rate increases at a statistically significant rate (Priya & Hannafin, 2004). To support this, access to the Internet in classrooms was undertaken by Cattagni & Farris (2002), Internet access in U.S. Public Schools and classrooms. This was to promote all of these variables which aid in the promotion of engaged learning in the classroom, while focusing on the inclusion of yet another variable. In this study we are presented with the data that documents the actual placement of educational technology, computers, in the hands of the students being assessed for all the city and state tests in their educational regions. In final consideration, according to Cattagni & Farris (2002), they studied classrooms and their computer access to the World Wide Web from 1994-2000. The data being retrieved was done so directly from data on the subject from the U.S. Department of Education. It is this type of data collection, having started as early as 1994, which lends more credibility to the importance of my research questions being studied today. In this situation going back to my previous discussion on methods of assessments, According to Wininger, (2005) understanding, Method as a scientific term is a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and

73 integrating previous knowledge. Under, Waxman, Connell & Gray in their work use system interchangeably with method in their work. Additionally, method is termed only as system in Wangs (2010) work, Web based dynamic assessment: Taking assessment as teaching and learning strategy for improving students e-learning effectiveness. According to Zhangs (2010), he offered a great explanation on how the question should be best attacked from both the end user (student) as well as the schools system administration. In this study, the main point that was made was that each general level of web-based assessment must be designed specifically for that population. Following this study, in Zhang (2010) topic, exploring the learning mechanism of web based questioninganswering systems and their design; the instruments design should directly reflect that of the primary informing system. Granted, in the study the term that was used was method and not system, but in this case, the terms I do believe are inter-changeable. All of which focused solely on the students ability to interact with the computer machines. What about the teachers themselves using the technology to teach with? Were there any studies that looked at that question? In answer is yes. Yes there are a number of studies that looked at this side of the predicament. One such study was completed on look at how teachers use formative assessment and talk in classroom contexts in addition, according to Leung & Mohan, (2004), assessment as discourse and assessment of discourse. Undoubtedly, within this studys results, I found it important in comprehending further the current problem of how to align web-based assessment with a traditional informing system in place. Leung & Mohan (2004) were able to enter settings with

74 teachers, administrators, and students to see and try to better understand how mandated state and city tests could better be utilized within a school. It was this study that highlighted to me the significance of exactly what was being comprehended by the student, while at the same time, what was being reported to the administration. In this situation, some students were being assessed using a web-based instrument that was presenting information to them not in their native language. Though, the students being tested spoke and read English, their native language was not English. These students had passed a fluency test upon entering school that year. Their results were not as high as their peers. The results reported back to the administration only reported the returned numbers. No grade flux was used because the computer system had not been programmed that way. It had only been programmed for only English Speakers much like the instrument being used in this research project. Today, when an elementary school teacher teaches a reading lesson to a group of children, actual fluency is looked at, listened for, and general background is collected on each child that enters a classroom. Contrary to this, when a student sits for a web based assessment- none of this is accomplished or collected (Russell, 2002). The student is asked to log in with a user name and password, then directed straight to the first assessment in English. Furthermore, as was mentioned previously, research has been done on the ages, the grade level, the separation of sex and diversity and motivation between students who use computers for both activities outside as well as inside the classroom. There has also been research completed on why web-based assessments providing more accurate results then

75 paper based. The primary reasons I have been able to locate in schools using web-based assessment over paper based are because of cost effective, speed in collecting results and assimilating the data. Pursuing this further, according to Zuga, (1989), Mead and Drasgow, (1993) and Moursund, (2010), the highest reported reason for educational technology being placed in both a regular as well as a special-needs classroom was in it providing an efficient and rapid ability to act on a students strengths and weaknesses. Interestingly enough though, what was not reported in any of the previously mentioned studies was the subjects past interactions and neither instruction on the hardware used nor the software used. Only briefly mentioned in Zuga (1989) study: Relating technology education goals to curriculum planning, was the concept of web based assessment instrument alignment even considered along the lines of the schools regular, computer curriculum. According to Zuga (1989), he went so far to recommend that computer skills used during the taking of the web based assessment should be previously gone over and reviewed prior to having the student sit for the assessment. In support of the case scenario question mentioned above, {if reading skills are significantly different between the two methods, why are we testing children as if they are not, and reporting the results as if they are the same?} According to Russell and Plati (2002), Effects of computer versus paper administrations of a State-Mandated Writing Assessment as my research method model, I am able to now ask you the reader of this review an important question. So what? Why is the connection between the effects of computer versus paper administration of a State-Mandated Writing assessment and

76 understanding the difference between the skills necessary to read a book versus reading on line so important? Following this question, the development of the Informing System makes it so important. If a single informing gap exists, the informing system cannot work. Let me use an analogy here. A zipper on a coat or boot can represent the parts of the Elementary School Level Informing system. On onside, cloth is stitched to a row of small projecting teeth. This can represent the childs prior knowledge going into a reading lesson. On the other side, a similar cloth is stitched to another very similar sized set of projecting teeth. This can represent the new knowledge about to be imparted to the student, in this case, computer literacy knowledge. Besides that, as both sides get drawn closer and closer to each other by the direction of the mechanical connecting agent, the actual Zipper or Connector [the Teacher], the system may be considered to be working properly, if the teeth mesh perfectly with each other. The zipper gets zipped up! However the meshing does not take place, the teacher may reverse his or her actions and try moving forward again later. Success is sometimes acquired the second time. Nevertheless, the major problems may be revealed when just one of the many projecting teeth of this combination is out of alignment. For if a single tooth of this system is out of alignment the remaining pieces of the system will cease to function at all. According to Nardi (1996), when one aspect of a smoothly working activity is not able to continue due to an inconsistent behavior of one of its required parts, the entire system will break down. I know this analogy simplifies greatly the relationship between student,

77 content, and teacher. What makes it so powerful though is the action of the connector. In context, both Nardi (1996) and Mann & Schaffer (1997) use zippers as forms of technology in conjunction with children and activities. Both define a zipper as a device consisting of two flexible strips of metal or plastic with interlocking projections closed or opened by pulling a slide along them, used to fasten garments, bags, and other items. I have chosen here to relate the slides purpose mentioned here as the final goal of an elementary school teacher. In final consideration, throughout this review, I have presented research that has in one form or another focused on the development of a consistent, informing system that presents new knowledge in such a way as to provide students a gap-less means of being assessed. The only way in which this process becomes possible, is with the creation of a well-aligned and populated informing system. It will be the development of a consistent and reliable method for generating and populating the students Informing System that now will become the challenge (MacArthur, 1988).

Methods used in past and current research for further development of an informing system. In trying to determine what the most significant issues are in the application of Educational Technology in the classroom was or is, I was presented with a vast amount of variables that could possibly confound any study I started. Many of these confounding issues I will raise in my methods section. I introduce this concept of confounding variables in a human computer interaction rooted research study; because these are the very same

78 variables I dealt with in entering into this projects main research questions. According to Graham, (2010), It was in the completing of one of my own earlier, elementary school computer class research projects, Static versus mobile, computer supported collaborative learning within New York City Public Schools, that I learned that the actual choice in computer hardware, may affect the outcomes during the taking of an on-line or Web based, mandated state assessment. In the light of the project, it was discovered, through physical placement of a wireconnected mouse to the right or to the left of the computers keyboard, had children interact with the applications differently. As an example, children who were normally right hand dominant in writing would normally use a mouse on the right side of the keyboard. Yet, if presented or sat at a computer with the mouse to the left side of the keyboard, would attempt to continue using the computer with this configuration and not ask a teacher to switch the mouse to the other side. Besides that, this observation took place 7 out of 10 times when originally tested. This research project also analyzed the functional differences students ran into when presented with a mobile computers track pad (Laptop Computer with Track-pad configuration. This hardware configuration caused children to slow their normal progress in working with a well-known application. In the same study as mentioned above, activity times went up in minutes, not in seconds, when children started using the laptops track pad over the table top version of the same computer brand. In this study a Macintosh computer was used in both circumstances. The only difference was the use of the brands I book line, and the Power Book line. The I-Book is a

79 desktop or tabletop version, while the Power-Book is the laptop version. The Tabletop uses a wired (Now wireless) mouse, while the Laptop uses a track pad (now Touchpad) design (Graham, 2010). Human Computer Interaction studies focus primarily on how the user is able to interact with a computer. This is in most cases dealing with how a user, uses a computer screen, keyboard, joystick, and mouse to complete a task. Clearly, then the task difficulty may be as basic as finding the letter G on a keyboard, pressing it, and watching it pop on to the computers screen. Additionally, according to Park, Clements and Douglas (1995), this extends to to having a user able to with 3-D digital glasses and digital interface recognition devices interact with a virtual reality representation graphic interface application where the user attempts to pour a liquid successfully into a digital vessel. Admittedly, through understanding how students interact with computers via research HCI, we learn what may affect speed and accuracy in dealing with computers and their programs. We are also presented with research that focuses on how computers are used in academic settings through CAI, which is computer - assisted instruction. And lastly, I must bring into this literature review research methods that deal with information retrieval, or IR. Through much of the research methodology that has been implemented in closely related topical research, I was able to construct a research method for this study that applied certain aspects from each separate discipline, and apply them to this single subject. The literature review that highlights research methods that seem to strongly support the ongoing research concerning: Effects of Computer versus Paper Administration of a State-

80 Mandated [Web-based] Assessment (Russell, Plati, 2000). Certainly, when applied to meet curricular goals, educational technologies provide alternative approaches to sustaining students interest, developing students knowledge and skills, and provide supplementary materials that teachers can use to extend students learning (Russell, Plati, 2000). Current and still ongoing research however, suggests that strategies that had promoted the more traditional, Write more using a computer, and you will learn more discussed by MacArthur & Graham, (1987), and Hanafin and Dalton (1987), may actually have been working against each other. As Russell and Hanley (2000) describe, two previous studies provide evidence when these students accustomed to writing on computers, performed better on written tests when these students were allowed to compose their responses using a word processor. The rather clear response to this phenomenon is consistency. The students having learned to type, using a keyboard and mouse, and comprehending paragraph formation using correct punctuation while interacting with a computers input and output device, is able to self-correct without the aid of an applications writing aids (Phillips, 1988). Transitioning from writing on a computer using a word processor, we can now analyze the similar skills necessary to read the content using a word processors output. Having this knowledge to work off of is important when first working on computer applications dealing with the written word. This too is important to understand from an educators point of view. When written text is presented, it should be done so in a way that the user will interact with it. Therefore, the letters we use in our written language today are presented to us via,

81 News Papers, Magazines, Journals, and Posters; all which are ink on paper-based mediums. But let us not forget Movies and Television. Yet, today there is still more means to get the written word out. According to Buchanan (2000), the current way is via the World-WideWeb (www) and via text messaging using devices such as; Laptops, Desktops, Smart phones, and I-Pads or e-readers. This fact alone now places even greater significance on McLuhans (1964), statement the medium is the message. For now we have even more ways in which the printed representation of information can be presented to us. If children did not have this technology in which to interact with in their immediate futures, then schools would not need to consider it as a topic for instructional support. However, according to Buchanan, (2000) and Moursund, (2010), todays school aged children are not interacting only with ink on paper and television media or the movies anymore; they now have and use the Internet. Indeed, the Internet, World Wide Web (www), the Text messages are all communications initiated and comprehended by learning how to read and interact with electronic communication, not the printed on paper word (Russell, 2000; Buchanan, 2000; Case, 2010; McKechnie, Baker, Greenwood & Jilien, 2002). This having been known and researched since 2000 lead me to ask, if reading skills are significantly different between the two methods, why are we testing children as if they are not, and reporting the results as if they are the same? A possible research method to help analyze this question was written up in Michael Russells and Tom Platis (2000), Effects of Computer versus Paper administration of a

82 State mandated Writing Assessment research. This project studied a population of middle school and high school students in grades eight and tenth. The methods section of my study will go into greater depth of the structure of this quasi-experimental research project. Here I am only discussing the reasons supporting its use as a viable research method based on the supporting literature. It is the development of the question, and the population being studied that drew my attention to this study. In the final consideration, this was the only research project that sought out to determine if one method of assessment was actually doing what is was supposed. It was reporting on how the assessments were being reported and what actual significance could be associated with the results. This particular study, Russels and Platis (2000) was designed to examine the extent to which student performance on an open-ended writing task differs on paper versus on computer, a controlled experiment. What I have done differently may be found in my variables used, and my population of interest. I have chosen to seek and understand better the effects of Computer versus Paper Administrations of a City-Mandated Assessment on elementary school students, grade 5.

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