Inquiry Project Proposal
I teach high school English at Harbor Springs High School in Harbor
Springs, Michigan. This next year I will be teaching senior, sophomore, and
drama classes in the English department. For this project, I will be centering
on the sophomore English class, with a focus on grammar lessons. Grammar
units make up approximately half of the school year in this class. This is a
general education class with many students going on to complete higher-level
English classes. These students are mainly highly motivated students with
approximately 90% of the students that attend the high school going on to
institutions of higher learning. Seventy-three percent of students elect to take
the ACT test with resulting scores above the national average. According to
teachers in the district, the amount of students who take the ACT and do well
is a large motivator for the district continuing to have a strong grammar focus
in the tenth grade curriculum.
Because of the importance placed on the grammar curriculum, I would like
to examine exactly how to best present this information to the students.
Students in the school are typically presented grammar in a lecture format.
They then come up with examples of the use of the grammar. I would like to
examine whether presentations of grammar concepts are more effective
when technology is incorporated into the lessons. These students, for the
most part, are highly motivated. I would like to examine whether incorporating
technology impacts their assessment scores, or if they have high scores
regardless because of their high motivation level. The research question then
involves looking at how the use of technology to present grammar lessons to
tenth grade students impacts student achievement.
In classrooms that I have observed, students, typically, have a negative
attitude when it comes to learning grammar. They seem to associate it with
drills and memorization. If I could make it interesting to the students, they
perhaps would find grammar useful and take pride in their knowledge of it. I
think that it is a challenge to make grammar interesting and I would like to
embark on this challenge.
I also believe that this topic is worthwhile because the findings of this
inquiry could relate to teaching other topics. If students‟ scores improve when
using technology to teach grammar, they may also improve when technology
is used to present literary devices in poetry. The findings could carry over to
so many other areas of my teaching.
If I find that the inclusion of technology in these lessons does have a
positive impact, then I would adapt my teaching practices to include even
more technology. As I stated earlier, these findings could carry over into other
areas of my teaching. I could even use technology to present concepts such
as stage areas using visuals on a PowerPoint or on the internet to my drama
class. Looking back at grammar, it is particularly important to the school‟s
curriculum and I would like to have lessons that reflect the important place
this holds in the school district.
Literature Review/ Theoretical Framework
There are several articles of research that explore the impact of using
technology in classroom instruction. Indeed, much of the research states that
using technology in the classroom can have a positive impact on the students
(Archer, 1998; Cradler, 1994). Using technology along with the incorporation of
other methods is vital when looking for a correlation between scores of students‟
assessments and the use of technology in the classroom. According to Cradler
and Bridgforth (1996), when technology is used with other aspects of
instructional design, there is an increase in student performance. This shows
that, when used in conjunction with other methods, the use of technology can be
beneficial in the classroom. Integrating technology along with other methods of
instructions will help to keep the students interested in the lessons. This interest
will lead to higher scores on assessments.
When teachers plan to use technology in their classroom there are added
benefits besides the higher assessment scores. “Planned integration of
technology in education that directly involves teachers consistently allows
teachers to engage students in meaningful educational experiences and allows
more time for individualized instructional opportunities.” (Cradler & Bridgforth,
1996). When students are involved in what they feel are meaningful experiences
they will internalize the material they are learning. They feel it is relevant to them.
This will be reflected in higher assessment scores. The added bonus of more
instructional time for students will only add to their sense of accomplishment and
their overall achievement. Other benefits found by Cradler (1994) include findings
that technology not only improves performance but also improves confidence and
problem solving skills as well as increasing writing skills and creating a better
attitude toward learning in students. The benefits of using technology seem to be
When using technology to enrich the presentation of information in the
classroom student scores increase. When comparing several classes where
technology use was present to classes where there was no technology Hennessy
et al. (1995) found that students in the technology-enriched classes had higher
scores on posttests than did the students in the classrooms with no technology.
They found that this was true even when taking the posttest was delayed.
Follansbee et al. (1997) found similar results in when comparing students who
were using the internet in the classroom to students who were not allowed
internet access. These students were found to be more effective in producing
and presenting their work. This suggests that using technology in the classroom
not only leads to higher test scores, but also to better retention of the information.
Finally, it is not the technology itself that will increase the test scores, but
how it is used in the classroom. “What matters most are not the machines and
the wiring themselves, but what teachers and students do with them. . .” (Archer,
1998). When technology is used to enrich the classroom experience, students
reap many benefits. Because of the engagement, they feel in the material that
they are learning higher assessment scores will be one of the results of using
technology in the classroom.
In order to make the use of technology meaningful for students in my
class, I plan to combine it with other methods of instruction. Varying the
methods of presenting information to the class should help to increase
student interest. I will teach several grammar lessons with the aid of
technology. This may be through a PowerPoint presentation, streaming video,
or integrating internet searches for grammar into the class lessons.
I plan to teach several grammar lessons to students integrating different
types of technology into the instruction. I will also teach several grammar
lessons to the students using a more traditional approach that includes
lecture with examples. After the lessons, students will take a posttest. I will
compare the scores of posttests that test the information presented in the
technology infused lessons to the scores of the posttests that test the
information that was presented in a more traditional format.
For the technology, infused lessons I plan to present some of the material
using a PowerPoint presentation. I will be using the presentation to present
some traditional information, such as definitions of parts of speech and
grammar terms and colorful replications of diagramed sentences. I also will
include slides that open up classroom discussion. We will discuss why
grammar is important and the how and why of grammar rules. By
incorporating technology along with the use of another method, namely
discussion, the students‟ knowledge of the information should increase. Using
the technology to make the presentation, I will be able to present the
information with a higher interest level to students.
I also plan to use streaming video to reinforce grammar lessons. These
video clips are designed to make grammar more interesting to students. Also
provided with the video are questions that lead to greater discussion in the
classroom. These I would most likely to after I had introduced the basic
grammar concepts. The videos will not only take the information one-step
further, but also reach the visual learners in the group.
Another activity that I will use in the infusion of technology would be
having students use the internet to search for „real-world‟ examples of
grammar. Looking through online books, newspapers, and magazines
students will find examples of the grammar concepts being used in published
writing. The students will then bring these examples back to the classroom to
share with their peers. This will serve to reinforce the concepts that they have
learned, while showing them the applications that these grammar rules and
concepts have in the world of writing and literature.
As a comparison to these lessons, I will be teaching lessons on the
subject of grammar without the aid of technology. These lessons will be
taught in more of a traditional format including the use of lecture, with the
teacher providing examples and the students using their notes and the given
examples to write their own examples and to complete the more traditional
handout or bookwork. Since I will be teaching in a new district I am not
familiar with the textbook that I will encounter in this class next year, but I will
either use some textbook provided questions or research and write my own
questions. For example, some of the questions may ask students to fill in the
blank with an adjective or pick the correct gerund from a provided pair at the
end of a sentence.
After every one or two lessons, students will be taking quizzes over the
grammar information that was presented. The scores that students‟ earn on
these quizzes will make up my qualitative data. I will compare scores on the
quizzes that test the material presented with the aid of technology to the
scores on the material presented in a more traditional format.
These lessons will take place over the duration of one semester of the
school year. As stated previously the curriculum calls for a full semester of
grammar in the tenth grade curriculum. The study will take place over the
duration of approximately six to eight lessons lasting about one month.
I will compare several quizzes over the technology lessons to several
quizzes over the lessons without technology. The classes will have
approximately 20-30 students. This will help to ensure that the data will be
One aspect that could skew the results is that the information taught in the
technology lessons will not be exactly the same as what is taught in the
lessons without technology. For example, I may present adverbs with the aid
of a PowerPoint presentation and participles may be presented in a lecture
format. However, these lessons will be similar in regard to time spent on each
lesson and the importance given each lesson will also be similar. The parts of
speech and use of correct grammar is all important to improving the overall
writing and speaking skills of students. Therefore, the consideration given
each of the lessons of the unit will be somewhat similar. Another concern is
with the quizzes themselves. They will, of course, not be exactly the same in
regard to content, but I will keep the format of the quizzes similar to ensure
the element of trustworthiness. In conclusion, the lessons are all part of the
same unit, have similar benchmarks, and will have quizzes that are formatted
in a comparable manner so I believe that the comparison of the scores across
the various lessons will still be valid.
1. Archer, J. (1998). The link to higher test scores. Education Week.
2. Cradler, J. (1994). Summary of current research and evaluation findings
on technology in education. San Francisco, CA: Far West Laboratory.
3. Cradler, J., & Bridgforth, E. (1996). Recent research on the effects of
technology on teaching and learning. Policy Brief. San Francisco, CA:
WestEd Regional Educational Laboratory.
4. Follansbee, S., Hughes, R., Pisha, B., & Stahl, S. (1997). Can online
communications improve student performance? Results of a controlled
study. ERS Spectrum.
5. Hennessy, S. et al. (1995). A classroom intervention using a computer-
augmented curriculum for mechanics. International Journal of Science