Exploring the efficacy of electronic response devices in ninth-grade science classrooms
Dey, John A., 1971-
Student use of electronic response technology has been prevalent in postsecondary institutions and is beginning to penetrate K-12 classroom settings. Despite these trends, research exploring the impact of this technology in these settings has been limited. The extant research has relied heavily on survey methodologies and largely has focused on student/teacher perception or implementation practices while remaining silent on learning outcomes. The purpose of this study was to broaden the scope of research models used to explore electronic response technology and its impact on student learning. The study took place in a ninth-grade science classroom at a large high school with a comprehensive curriculum. Study participants were first-year high school students enrolled in one of two sections of the freshman science sequence focusing on Physical Science content. One section, serving as the Treatment group, used electronic response devices on a daily basis to respond to preplanned teacher questions. The other section, serving as the Comparison group, relied on traditional methods of interaction such as raising hands to respond to questions. They responded to the same set of preplanned questions and differed only in the manner of response, with the teacher asking the class and then calling on one of the students to answer. The study focused on academic achievement, as measured by student performance on a pre- and posttest, as well as student engagement, measured by momentary time sample data taken throughout the entire class with focused attention on periods of teacher questioning. The analysis of academic achievement employed an ANOVA, and no statistically significant difference was found between the groups. Engagement data were analyzed using an independent samples t test, and statistically significant differences were found between the two groups. Findings from this study indicated that, when using electronic response technology in their science classes, students demonstrated significantly higher levels of engagement across an entire class period as well as during teacher questioning. Implications of the study have been framed around the promise of electronic response technology for engaging and motivating students.