1. a. Research Topic
‘There is almost certainly a mutually reinforcing relationship wherein technology helps teachers implement PBL but PBL also helps teachers integrate technology by providing reasons for its use’. (Ravitz, 2010)
The introduction of the Digital Education Revolution (DER) into the English classroom has led to a greater range of pedagogical choices for teachers but also a new set of challenges. Furthermore the looming deadline for the implementation of the Australian Curriculum: English gives scope for teacher innovation and creativity within the framework of its three key strands for the study of English – language, literacy and literature.
Research has been conducted into the two main focus areas of this study, specifically PBL and ICT in education. Barron (1998) found that PBL had ‘positive effects on student learning’ yet Muniandy (2000) found that ‘despite the availability of adequate technology infrastructure (to teachers employing PBL in the classroom) its use was … limited’. Harriman (2003) characterises PBL as a ‘disruptive force within classes’ which has a positive impact on student engagement as well as outlining the benefits of ‘online presentation of projects’.
This study aims to explore how technology use in the English classroom changes when project-based pedagogies are used. The technology that teachers and students bring into the English classroom should be meaningfully integrated into learning activities. It has been suggested that a greater understanding of the influence PBL has on the use of technology in the classroom is needed. (Ravitz, 2010) Some have claimed that project-based pedagogies avoid the ‘doing for the sake of doing’ (Barron, 1998) approach to technology usage as it ensures that students are ‘doing with understanding’ (Barron, 1998).
b. What research strategy will I employ?
This study will use a mixed method research strategy to address the research question. A survey of English teachers in the form of an online questionnaire will ask questions about their usage and implementation of technology in their classroom as well as how often – if at all – they include student-centred, project-based pedagogies in their classroom. This survey will include both closed and open-ended questions. This survey will be complemented with three embedded teacher case studies. The population for the study will be secondary English teachers within New South Wales with a wide demographic including teachers from government, independent and Catholic schools. The study will include three teacher case studies drawn from different teaching contexts – government, independent and Catholic schools as well as different SES – who are implementing project-based pedagogies and ICT in their classrooms.
Factors that will be the focus of each teacher case study include:
– types of technology used in the English classroom
– purpose of technology used in the English classroom
– effectiveness of technology used in the English classroom
– duration of technology used in the English classroom
– teacher response to technology used in the English classroom
– student response to technology used in the English classroom
– access to/availability/reliability of technology used in the English classroom
I will use a mixed-method data collection, including:
- the quantitative data from the questionnaire will provide information on the usage of technology in the secondary English classroom, the pedagogies adopted when using technology and how often project-based pedagogies are used in the secondary English classroom
- the collection of data for the case studies will include a combination of the following: interviews with teachers, field notes from observation of teachers in classroom and staffroom, interviews with students, examination of a variety of educational documents and artifacts used by each teacher including programs, lesson plans, student work samples and teaching resources
2. a What research strategy will I employ?
- Project-based pedagogies – critical components of this model include ‘(a) a driving question or problem and (b) the production of one or more artifacts as representations of learning’ (Grant, 2009)
- Information and Communication Technologies (ICT)– in the 21st century classroom ICT refers to a combination of fixed (televisions, IWBs, computer lab) and mobile technologies (ipads, ipods, mobile phones) as well as the software and web-based tools teachers and students access.
3. Research question.
Exploring the relationship between project-based pedagogies and information and communication technologies usage in Australian secondary English classrooms.
4. Independent and dependent variables.
Independent variables include the project-based pedagogies, teacher interest/competence/experience, students, classroom and school context, access to technologies. Dependent variable is technology usage.