Thursday, September 22, 2005

a moment to blog

Hello to everyone, as I start to feel finally that I have a handle on the report of research and have a moment to post something to the blog. I found the tabulation of data in Excel to be a very valuable exercise and have really learned a lot by looking for ways that the different information can be analyzed. I started with some of the obvious simple formulas related to my data such as simply getting a percentage of the respondents who answered any particular category of the 4 possible responses to any question. Doing that successfully gave me more ideas. For example, during the discussion section, I wanted to say how many technology types were used by at least half of the respondents. Since my sample size wasn't that large (12 surveys returned) with only 13 different types of technology, I was tempted to just count manually by looking at the different charts. Having learned how to use the "countif" function in class I decided to attempt using it and having Excel do the counting. I highlighted the cells that were pertinent, started the function and used the criteria "countif" the numerical value in the cell was ">50%" and hit the "enter" key. A number appeared in the cell. I did a quick visual count and realized I was one short. The figures on the tables revealed that one of the technologies was used by 50% of the teachers. I quickly understood that I needed to revise my formula and tried at first to do an "or" statement; something like "= or >50%" but got "bubkis" (nothing for the non-Yiddush speakers). Putting my years of critical thinking and math classes to work, I tried the much simpler ">49%" and had my "Eureka" moment. I must say it was quite gratifying. I would like to encourage my classmates to experiment with using the formulas, if only for an academic exercise. (I guess at some point I'll have to find out how to write the equation using = and > together) We won't always have small sample sizes to work with.

Finally, even though I first thought that there wouldn't be all that much to write about in the discussion section from such a small survey and sample size, as I started to look at each chart and understand the implications of the data, I found quite a bit to comment on. I'm pleasantly surprised.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

DON'T MISS THIS!! Free Online APA style bibliography creator

The online journal, Classroom News (eSchool News) arrived in my inbox today and in it was an article titled "" saves researchers time - and makes citations a cinch." In the body of the article it stated " has created a free-to-use web site that quickly produces "works cited" pages for its users in there simple steps. First, the user must choose from among three style formats - Modern Language Association, American Physiological Association, or Chicago citation style - as well as the type of medium (print, electronic, or audio/visual) and the source of the material (book, film, web site, newspaper, etc.) The user then enters the appropriate information into the blank fields, including title, author, page, published date, etc., for printed works. Finally, the user saves the information and is able to export it to Microsoft Word, where it is properly formatted and ready to print"

I said to myself "This is worth checking out.", and wouldn't you know it, it WORKS! It's easy, just like the article says, you fill in the boxes and click "Export" and you are sent a Word Document with all of your citations in alphabetical order ready to cut and paste into your paper. I suggest you try it ASAP!

Monday, September 12, 2005

consent form as used for survey

Informed Consent Form

Survey on ESL Instructor use of available technology at Pacoima Skills Center

The purpose of this study is to examine the amount of awareness that ESL instructors at Pacoima Skills Center have of the types of technology available to them for use in their classrooms at Pacoima Skills Center and to determine how instructors use that technology. This study is completely voluntarily and is not a requirement or duty of your employment.

The information generated from this study will be used primarily to fulfill the project requirements of a class in educational research that Barry Bakin is taking as part of a Masters of Education in Instructional Technology at American Intercontinental University (AIULA). Results may be shared with the administration and staff of Pacoima Skills Center at the completion of the class.

Your participation is voluntary and confidential. Your names will not be on your survey response forms. You are free to withdraw from the research study (not turn it in) at any time or to decline to answer any questions without penalty. The study involves no risk to your physical or mental health beyond those encountered in the normal course of everyday life.

I consent to take part in the survey on ESL Instructor use of available technology at Pacoima Skills Center with the understanding that my responses will remain anonymous and no personal information will be collected nor divulged. I am aware that this survey is a project for a class in educational research and I permit Barry Bakin to utilize the responses I will be giving as part of his class assignment. I am aware that results of this research may be shared with the administration and staff of Pacoima Skills Center at the conclusion of his class.

I agree and consent (mark an X in the box) BOX APPEARS HERE ON DOCUMENT

I disagree and do not consent (mark an X in the box) BOX APPEARS HERE ON DOCUMENT

Research Project Progress

I finalized the survey document this past class session and made one change to the consent form at Dr. Miller's suggestion: providing check boxes for "I consent and agree" and "I do not consent and I disagree" instead of a signature line. That allows me to just pass out and collect the survey keeping the consent form attached to it, alleviating the need for establishing a system for getting the survey back separately from the consent form while keeping the survey anonymous but knowing which surveys had consent forms.

I received the principal's ok to distribute the survey quickly. As it turns out, we had an ESL departmental meeting today so I was able to distribute and get surveys returned easily. There is another meeting for the evening teachers tonight and the surveys will be distributed by our ESL department chair at that time. Even though I stated that the teachers had until Friday to respond, it appears that I'll get all of the surveys back by tomorrow. The actual number of ESL teachers who I thought would be filling out the survey is smaller than I had assumed because while we have a lot of teachers on campus, many teach other types of classes and I'm not including ESL teachers who work off-campus. Also, some of the teachers who work Saturdays also work nights or mornings so the Saturday group is smaller than I planned.

On to analysis!

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Finalized Research Survey

As a result of today's session, I narrowed the research topic considerably. At this point the survey will only determine if teachers at Pacoima Skills Center use the available technology, and if so, determine whether or not they use it solely for their own class preparation, whether students only use the technology or whether the teacher uses it for him or herself and also has the students use it in their learning. The complete survey follows.

Survey on ESL Instructor use of available technology at Pacoima Skills Center

Information about you:

How many hours a week do you teach at Pacoima Skills Center? ______________

Years teaching ESL at Pacoima Skills Center: ___________________

Years teaching ESL prior to your current employment at Pacoima Skills Center ________________

The following is a list of technologies currently available at Pacoima Skills Center. For each technology type, describe your use of that technology.
• “Instructor use only” means that you as the instructor use the technology for such activities as preparing for your class, doing background research, creating a homework exercise, presenting material to the students, or maintaining class records.
• “Students use only” means that your students use the technology for such activities as studying grammar, watching a video-based lesson, presenting a topic to the class, or doing research.
• “Both Instructor and Students Use” means that you as the instructor use the technology in the ways described above AND you have your students use the technology in their studies.
Please fill in the circle under the descriptor that best represents your usage. Please fill in only ONE circle per question.

(The four circles after each technology type represent the following categories: "Never", "Instructor use only", "Students use only", "Both Instructor and Students Use")
1. TV with built-in videocassette ○ ○ ○ ○

2. Audiocassette/CD player ○ ○ ○ ○

3. Overhead projector ○ ○ ○ ○

4. Computer (non-Internet)
productivity software
(Word, PowerPoint, Excel, etc.) ○ ○ ○ ○

5. Computer (non-Internet)
ESL software
(ELLIS, Sequoyah, etc.) ○ ○ ○ ○

6. Computer (Internet use)
Not ESL specific
(Email, Search Engines, OTAN
Government Website, MapQuest,
Email discussion list, etc.) ○ ○ ○ ○

7. Computer (Internet use)
ESL specific (Online grammar site,
English For All website,
Email exchange, etc.) ○ ○ ○ ○

8. Cardreader machine ○ ○ ○ ○

9. Interactive Whiteboard ○ ○ ○ ○

10. LCD projector ○ ○ ○ ○

11. Inkjet or Laser printer ○ ○ ○ ○

12. Digital Camera ○ ○ ○ ○

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Research Proposal for EDU 670

Technology capacity (defined as access to computers, whiteboards, LCD projectors, Overhead projectors, etc.) is quite high at Pacoima Skills Center, the adult school where I teach, yet the use of technology for instruction on a regular basis varies greatly from teacher to teacher. For example my classroom is equipped with 17 Internet-connected desktop computers that are always present, 10 dedicated (always in the room) laptop computers on a wireless network that are also Internet-connected, and another 25 laptop computers accessible on a cart that are sometimes not accessible (other classes use them) but usually available because they are stored in the room. Additionally, I have a dedicated LCD projector (instructor doesn't have to "checkout" a projector from the office), overhead projector, cassette recorder, and a TV with a built-in video cassette player hanging from the ceiling. I also know that the instructor who uses the room at night NEVER uses any of the available technology for instruction. (No evidence of student work on computers, no evidence of any assignments ever given for using computers or any of the other technology, etc.) There is evidence that the instructor uses the teacher's computer to prepare tests.

I would like to explore one of two areas that relate to the issue of instructor use of technology for instruction but have not made a final decision as to which one. The population focus for both would be the ESL instructors at Pacoima Skills Center The first question I thought about researching would be to examine whether teachers at Pacoima Skills Center are aware of all the technology available at the school and then survey how many have actually used each type of technology for instruction. I would then have them look at the types of technology that they are currently not using and have them rank those technologies in terms of their interest in obtaining skills in using that technology with their students. The goal of the research would be to find out where training in technology use should be focused in the next year.

The second research project idea is related to the same issue but skips ahead a bit. It assumes that the ESL teachers are fairly aware of the technology that is available , has the teachers rank the technologies that are available in terms of interest in acquiring new skills in incorporating those technologies into instruction, but then would try to ascertain how teachers would like to be trained in using those technologies. There are several approaches to training in technology that are quite common: self-learning (reading a book or article), technology workshops (teachers attend a 2 or 3 hour workshop on a particular technique), technology mentoring (a teacher with experience in using technology "mentors" a colleague on a one-on-one basis), some combination of any of the previous techniques. or a few others not mentioned. The goal of the research would be to find out where training in technology use should be focused and ascertaining the method of instruction that most teachers prefer.

I welcome your comments as to which of the two projects might be the better one to undertake as well as any comments about the two projects themselves.