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Published February 13, 2012 | Multidisciplinary

Seeking Teachers’ Data to Evaluate the Impact of IT in Education on Student Success

These days Profweb's stories reveal the growing academic use of information technology. Our classrooms are not strangers to projects for the iPad or for problem-based learning for students. Our colleagues have introduced online exercises and forums to improve written English, and clickers and interactive whiteboards are taken for granted.

And that's good, because the introduction of ICT into the classroom seems to improve student achievement under certain conditions! This is what has emerged from the work of our colleague Christian Barrette, a former teacher at Collège Ahuntsic and now project manager on behalf of ARC (Association pour la recherche au collégial). Christian's research has helped to generate a grid that allows for a "diagnosis" of an educational activity using conditions he has outlined in his work. The grid is available in an interactive web page. Once it's filled out, results provide information on an activity's strengths providing clues to possible adjustments to be made. One can also download the grid as an EXCEL spreadsheet which has the same functions as the grid on the web.

Getting Good 'Value' for an Important 'Investment'

Although the introduction of IT into the classroom can provide exciting discoveries, significant investments on the part of teachers is required. Among these are familiarization with the technology, planning and teaching  the course material and the application’s use in the classroom among other activities. This is one reason why a team of IT Reps felt it would be very useful for both teachers and for researchers to be able to assess the impact of the IT use in a classroom in terms of student achievement and other indicators of student success :

  • educational outcomes
  • student motivation
  • the demonstration of high-level cognitive skills (e.g. abstraction, text analysis, etc.)

Using Data from Indicators of Student Success

To evaluate the effectiveness of the introduction of IT on student achievement, we must specify the factors, that is to say the variables, that measure the success we are seeking.

For example, suppose you insert an interactive whiteboard into a complex part of your course with the expectation that your students will be more motivated by this part of the course. You could use the following indicators to assess the effect of this equipment on the motivation of your students:

  • the number of absences during the course
  • student satisfaction for this activity (measured, for example, using a rating collected by means of a questionnaire)
  • the number of hours devoted to study (again through a questionnaire)
  • etc.

Calling Upon All Teachers!

Have you used IT in your classroom or do you intend to do so in the near future? Have you specified indicators to evaluate the effect of your activity on one or more aspects of the success of your students (see above)? Your IT Representative Taskforce on Success and IT would like to see your data on the following:

I’d like to extend a huge thank-you in advance on the part of the members of the IT Reps Network! Heeding our call will surely have a positive impact on the success of your IT activities.

And now for the killer question - Do you think it's useful to collect data about the effectiveness of IT on student achievement? And why? I'm looking forward to reading your comments!

About the Author

Nicole Perreault She began her college career as a Psychology Teacher and Education Advisor at Collège André-Grasset. She was then the Director of APOP and the CLIC newsletter before becoming an Education Advisor at Cégep Édouard-Montpetit. Since 2005, she is pleased to be the Community Manager for the Réseau des REPTIC (IT Representatives Network) which brings together ICT Education Advisors from across the college network. She has written numerous articles and given many workshops on the pedagogical use of technology. Their integration within the context of student success is a subject that she finds particularly interesting.

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    Julie Hamel wrote February 13, 2012 at 10:52 AM

    Great idea to begin evaluating the impact of IT on our students... We experimented last term in 101 and 2/3 of the students said to have prefered the no-books computer only approach to traditional reader and grammar book... However, I'm not sure this affected their success... I seem to have the same kinds of averages and the same number of students dropping out one way or the other.

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