Impact on Student Learning
The impact on learning is evaluated on the basis of data collected by classes’ observations, interviews (focus-group technique) and standardized tests.
There were three types of observations:
· Systematic observations, to observe the entire class.
· Unstructured observations focused on a small group of students (four students working together as a group).
· Semi-structured observations to the entire class, to obtain quantitative data about frequency and type of interactions between students and teachers.
These observations were made on three different occasions: at the beginning of the unit, during the middle stage, and at the end of the unit.
Students’ productions - reports and answers to activities guides - were also analyzed.
The following image shows one class observation template, developed especially for this project.
The external observer can notice different types of interactions:
We are now in the final stage of the project, which consists in data analysis and systematization. While we have not arrived to the final conclusions yet, we have plenty of qualitative information and also the first quantitative results.
In relation to the qualitative results obtained from the classes’ observations, we can affirm that one of the objectives of the project has been reached: to improve the students learning associated with the ability to solve problems in cooperative way. Students' attitudes and behaviors were observed while they were working in small groups or debating with the whole class.
It was noted that the opportunities for students to share information and making joint decisions had improved, because HP Tablet-PCs allow students to exchange information with teachers and peers.
|The teacher can share with the whole class the solutions given by each student, as well as any necessary issue. A collective review of the activities allows students to compare results and discussed strengths and weaknesses of each solutions. Students can save changes and adjustments done in the way of the correct solving of the problem. This helps them to think about their actions, promoting meta-cognition that boosts the capacity of solving problems.|
Also in qualitative terms, students increased their ability to design, represent, build and test electric circuits (another objective of the project). This outcome could be observed during the classes, and also by analyzing students’ records. Some of them used their HP Tablet-PC as a desktop computer, keeping the screen vertically and using the keyboard and mouse, and occasionally the digital pen. In a few cases, children used a paper sheet and a pencil to sketch a draft, and only after that they copied the information to the computer.
Students can easily sketch and draw graphics regarding electric systems and circuits using digital ink. They can easily delete and modify their graphics, which encourage them to think more freely, to explore different solutions, and keep improving them.
In addition, using an electric circuits simulation software, students could to test their circuit design before a final build.
Another goal of this project is to help students to:
· develop the necessary skills to learn in virtual environments – either being in face to face and non-face to face situations,
· valuate the use of software as tools for communication and shared decision making.
The classes observations and students surveys showed that student found the work with the PC Table positive. They highlighted the advantages of the digital pen compared with the mouse and keyboard, especially to take quick notes in class, drawing graphics and diagrams.
They said they are motivated to learn with this technology, although in some cases they could recognize the digital pen as a potential distracter, as they were "tempted" to make al sorts of "draws" and "scribbles" on the computer screen.
It is interesting to notice how students find different ways to use the HP Tablet-PCs:
Others placed the screen horizontally, hiding the keyboard, and using it as a paper notebook.
In some cases students also supported the HP Tablet-PC on their lap.
Some of them used their HP Tablet-PC as a desktop computer, keeping the screen vertically and using the keyboard and mouse, and occasionally the digital pen.
In a few cases, children used a paper sheet and a pencil to sketch a draft, and only after that they copied the information to the computer.
By comparing the tests results for the years 2007 (without the use of HP Tablet-PCs) and 2008 (with HP Tablet-PCs in the classrooms), we can concluded that:
· In 2008, it was able to assess students learning using exercises with higher level of depth and complexity. The evaluation was more demanding. This is evidence that with the incorporation of the HP Tablet-PCs, teaching possibilities were improved.
· Despite these differences, the assessments results remained roughly at the same levels, as the rates of approval in 2007 and 2008 were similar. Therefore we can said that with HP Tablet-PCs students learned more and better about electric circuits.