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Jennifer Davis


									Jennifer Davis
July 2004

                         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.

                                    Problem Statement

      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

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