Component 3 Academic Improvement Plan Action Research Proposal by eld18221

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									                                      Component 3
                               Academic Improvement Plan
                                Action Research Proposal

                                         Chapter One



       The purpose of this study is determining correlations between student choices in free play

centers, technology choices, and gender trends.


       It was hypothesized that there is a correlation between student choice of centers and

technology usage. It is further hypothesized that there is a gender tendency in the choice of

technology centers.

Leadership Role

       The use of technology is growing in the classroom today. The needs of students in

technological areas are also changing. No longer are the skill and drill types of software the

ultimate technological tool. Students need to work with technology which will challenge and

expand their horizons as they are able to assimilate the knowledge needed to utilize it. To

provide the necessary skills for these students, it is necessary to their preferences and any gender

differences in technology selection so that the most effective instructional methods can be used.

School Description

       This is a small pre-K to 3rd grade school with a student population of approximately 500

students. We have a special education component in the student population with a variety of

needs which is mainstreamed throughout the campus as much as possible. It has a mixed socio-
economic population ranging from very low to upper middle class. It is designated as a Title

school with a 45% free and reduced lunch population. Daily attendance has remained steady in

the 95% rate.

       The school has recently undergone a complete renovation. All classrooms in the original

two wings have at least five cable drops per room. Modular classrooms have only one at this

time. All classrooms have access to the Internet and network computers containing Accelerated

Reader software and networked software for student usage.

Student Needs

       Students enjoy using technology in the classroom. Louisiana Technology Standards are

now in place which requires students to be exposed to and master a variety of computer skills. In

order to develop these necessary skills, teachers must learn what students are interested in doing

using technology and how to guide these interests to help students achieve these standards.

School Goal

       To provide students with access to technology in order to support and enhance their

varied learning styles and needs throughout the curriculum.

School Ecology and School Climate

       The school consists of teachers who deeply care about the progress of students. It

supports a child-centered curriculum with small group instruction, hands-on instruction, and

individual exploration in the classroom.

Paradigm Shift

       Teachers are beginning to recognize the necessity of using technology in their instruction.

In order to utilize technology in an effective manner, it is necessary to understand student
preferences and interests to order to present instruction. If there are gender differences in usage,

that must also be taken into account for instructional purposes.


        There are no significant risks to implementing this study for students, teachers or

administrators. It is a descriptive study documenting behaviors, not impacting them.

                                           Chapter Two

                                       Review of Literature

        In today’s society there is more than ever a need to understand the way students learn and

how they interact with technology. A 1999 survey of U.S. households with children ages 8-17

reports that approximately 71% have at least one computer in the home (Wright, 37). In this time

of paradigm shifts in education having enough data to make logical decisions about instruction is


        It has been argued that teaching methodologies influence learning, but the media used in

instruction can not account for all positive outcomes. Media assists in the speed of learning, but

it must be aligned with the proper pedagogical methods (Page. 389). Computer-based learning

has seemed to have a positive impact on the self-esteem of children. There is, however, a

caution; the positive impact on the child must rely on the quality of the software, the attitude of

the teacher, and the accessibility of the technology (Judge, 29). As Carol Wright reports,

technology benefits student achievement, student attitudes and self-concept (38).

        The using of technology with preschool students is rather more complex than that of

older students. While it is generally accepted that technology has an impact on students in both
the achievement arena and the areas of self-esteem, with 3 to 4 year olds there is the question of

whether it is developmentally appropriate to use computers for instruction. At issue is what the

appropriate use of technology with the very young. Many professionals believe that children

under 3 should not use computer because its use does not match their learning styles (Wright,

38). Preschool children are able to learn about how the computer works and utilize software

written for their level of development.

       Studies of preschool students and computer usage have found a marked improvement in

cognitive thinking, language skills, and mathematical skills (Laffey, Espinosa, Moore, Lodree,

434). In Supporting Learning and Behavior of-Risk Young Children, the authors outlined two

areas of cognitive delay often associated with problem behaviors in early childhood that can lead

to more negative behaviors later in an academic career including reading disabilities, school

failure, and delinquent behaviors. These areas are often language delays and cognitive self-

control skills (Laffey, 435). In this study, Kindergarten students in an urban school were studied

in relation to using computer technology as a resource program. It was found that both the at-

risk and not-at-risk students made significant gains in the mathematical areas being tested. The

not-at-risk students out scored the at-risk students, but both groups outscored the groups not

using computers to scaffold learning. (Laffey, 439). This supports some of the literature that

supports the use of computers with nontraditional students. Page states that while results with

average students could be considered mixed, non-traditional students almost always benefit from

the use of computers in both in logical thinking tasks and problem-solving activities (391). A

study with similar composition was done by Scheidet to look at web enabled instruction and

middle school students. In his study, those students in the control group also made significant

gains academically (88).
       Scaffolding with computer usage seems to be a successful use of the technology in early

childhood education. In research with preschool students, “computer activities that reinforce

education objectives have greater developmental gains” (Wright, 39). Other studies have shown

that children in preschool and kindergarten who use the computer with quality instruction and

group interaction had gains in linguistic and cognitive development no matter what the socio-

economic or racial background (Brooker, 266). Feedback and scaffolding are critical to

student’s success as they learn how to utilize technology successfully, but they will also need

time and access to explore it on their own (Chatel, 56).

       A further concern in implementing technology throughout the classroom is the effect of

gender on usage. Some studies have shown a gender “gap” between boys and girls in the usage

of technology. This lack carries over to the professional arena. As one author put it, “while more

girls are on the train, they aren’t the ones driving” (Swain & Harvey, 17). Many of the

computer games of the now popular “twitch and kill” type appeal directly to the teenage boy, but

not to the teenage girl. There are very few resources geared to the girl who enjoys computing.

This may result in the way that each gender typically deals with information and how they learn.

Boys are typically linear and action oriented; girls tend to excel in communication (Dwyer &

Moore, 28). One option for meeting this need for discounting gender in the classroom is to have

separate single-sex classrooms where computing is modeled and explored without the gender

specific roles being assumed (Swain & Harvey, 17). Additionally after-school clubs and other

programs that will allow girls to experiment without the pressure of working with boys have

worked in the past (Rockman, 26). The thoughtful use of technology in the classroom can

provide the impetus for shaping girl’s positive impressions of technology and her place within

that arena (Gilley, 21).
       One of the most important elements in making technology work in the classroom is the

teacher’s ability to direct effective, efficient instruction to meet the needs of all parties. We

know that to have an impact on learning, technology must meet the needs of students (Judge,

30). Equally important is meeting the needs of the teacher. Instructional support for teachers,

providing knowledge and integration ideas are imperative to developing the confident, seamless

integration of technology into the curriculum (Judge, 30). One of the most effective ways to

provide technology support for teachers is through the use of providing time for experimentation

and development of technology to integrate into the curriculum; application of the technology,

and reflection of the technology integration (Marra, Howland, Wedman, Diggs, 15-16) Mentor

teachers are able to provide a great deal of support for the teacher who is just beginning to

develop their use of technology in the classroom (Marra, 15).

       To provide the environment that our children will need to thrive we need teachers who

are comfortable and competent in the use of technology; equality in encouragement for all

students of whatever gender, race, and ability; and software and lessons that are developmentally

appropriate for the students involved. As Chatel so admirably states, “Will we be ready for

Adrian and children like him? Technologically savvy children who require a new learning

environment, require teachers who don’t just impart knowledge but rather facilitate each child’s

search for knowledge and participation in his or her own learning” (58).

                                         Chapter Three



       The purpose of this study is determining correlations between student choices in free play

centers, technology choices, and gender trends.

       It was hypothesized that there is a correlation between student choice of centers and

technology usage. It is further hypothesized that there is a gender tendency in the choice of

technology centers.

Description of Participants

       This study’s participants consist of a convenience sample of students in the Pre-K and

Kindergarten classes. The participants range in age from 4 years old to 6 years old. The

participants will not be tested or questioned in anyway. Their free center choices will be

documented while they are in their normal daily routine. Anonymity will be provided for each

participant by using only a letter/number combination to indicate their center choice.

Research Design and Procedure

       This is a descriptive case study in which participants choices are documented without

altering the normal routine in the classroom. In the Pre-k and Kindergarten classroom there is a

period of the day in which students are able to exercise personal choice and select centers to

work at which appeal to them. Students generally change centers in 10-15 minute intervals.

Some students may select to remain at a center for the next period. The centers that will be

available to students in this case study will be similar in type for each classroom. For each

classroom the teacher and other observers will record student choices for the center time periods

in a table which is divided into 10 minute segments. There will be ten documented free period

centers per classroom over a three week period.

       The Pre-K and Kindergarten teachers have agreed to participate in this study along with

several paraprofessionals and other observers. Their efforts will enable a clearer understanding

of self-choice and technology correlations as well as any gender issues which may be revealed.


   1. Centers in each classroom during Free choice Centers:

            a. Reading – This center will consist of simple books, letter stamps, magnetic letters

               and boards, and/or simple word games

            b. Writing – This center will consist of either white board and markers or paper and

               pencil in self-expressive writing.

            c. Art – Painting will be available in this center over the period of the observations

               for students to develop their ideas and pictures.

            d. Science – Students in all classes will be studying bugs and plants over this period

               so centers will reflect this theme with life cycle stamps, materials to create models

               and picture books.

            e. Computers – Each classroom has three to four computers available to students.

               There will be a variety of software programs available for students use.

            f. Dramatic Play – Students will be able to utilize a variety of costumes, puppets,

               and housekeeping center equipment to develop characters and reenact various

               events from stories and real life.

            g. Blocks – Both unit blocks and Lego type blocks are used to develop hand-eye

               coordination as well as mathematical skills in symmetry, measurement, weight,

               and balance.

   2. Documenting forms for each day per classroom. Each form will consist of a table with
        columns describing available centers as listed above and rows giving the time of

        observations as divided into 10 minute increments.

   3. A coding list to show participant letter/number code, gender, and developmental

          screening score. There will be no names or other identifying materials for participant’s

          security and privacy.

   4. Recording observers in each classroom during free center times to document participant

          center choices.


Measurement of Incremental Progress

          The furthering of knowledge concerning student’s use of technology through personal

choice in the classroom will enable teachers to make instructional decisions to increase the use of

technology in the curriculum thus meeting school goals, parish requirements, and state standards.

Proposed Assessment Activities

          Data developed through the daily observations will be compiled to reveal the most

commonly chosen centers. In addition data will examine any correlations between the use of

technology centers and developmental list scores of >75%, <25%, and between 25%-75%. A

further comparison of technology use and gender will be examined through this data base.

Plan of Action

          This descriptive study will be undertaken in nine classrooms over a three week time


              Steps                   Responsible Party                       Timeline
1. Develop table to document       Researcher                        April
participant choices.
2. Meet with Teachers and       Researcher                       April
observers to in-service on
documentation process.

3. Begin observations during    Teachers and other observers     April/ May
Free center time.               Researcher

4.Keying and analysis of data   Researcher                       May
5. Documenting of results       Researcher                       May

6. Discussing of results        Researchers/teachers/observers   June

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