An Educator's Guide to
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Checklist

Does this research finding apply to my classroom, school, or district?

 

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How do I determine if the research is designed to support these claims?
How is student achievement measured?
Summary

Does this research finding apply to my classroom, school, or district?

Studies are conducted in the real world with real people, but if the schools studied differ significantly from your school, the findings may not apply. One of the most important first steps in reviewing research involves understanding the unique characteristics of the districts, schools, teachers, or students studied. Knowing how researchers selected the participants for a study will help you understand how the research findings apply to your school or district. In addition, you should pay careful attention to the level of supports that were available to implement the technology program in the study. Will these same supports be available to your school?

For more information on how the process of selecting students or schools for a study can affect the interpretation of a study's findings, see sample selection.

Example Study

Abstract

Computer Reading Fun's implementation in 1997-98 contributed to substantial gains in the performance of 1,300 students in 20 schools in grades three through six on the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP) exams. The achievement gap between economically advantaged and disadvantaged students narrowed substantially. Of the participating schools, all had been low achievers on standardized reading tests before they participated in Computer Reading Fun.

Methods

The teachers in this district received eight hours of training to use Computer Reading Fun, and involved students in the program an average of two hours per week through the year. All teachers administered Computer Reading Fun in their classrooms, which had an average of three newer computers per classroom.


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Districts. Does your district have the same mission and commitment to educational technology initiatives as the district in the study? Are there any other reforms in place (e.g., new curricula, school organization, student assessments) within the district featured in the study that may enhance the results one might normally expect from investing in this software initiative? Consider technology infrastructure requirements as well as the level of support provided for teacher training and instructional materials. Also consider the costs to implement the program in ways similar to the district in the study. Could your district replicate the technology implementation depicted in the study?

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Schools. Does your school or district have the same level of resources as those of the educators in the study? Consider the computer technology requirements as well as the level of support provided for teacher training and instructional materials. Will you be able to commit the time and resources that it may take for you to reach the same level of gains in student performance as the schools in the study? Now consider the costs to implement the program in a similar way to schools in the study. Can your school afford a comparable level of implementation? Do you have the resources to replicate the technology implementation depicted in the study?

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Teachers. How were the teachers selected? Were teachers with particular skills, pedagogical approaches, or subject specialties included or excluded? How proficient were the teachers in using computers and incorporating technology into their classroom instruction? What types and levels of professional development did the teachers receive in the use of technology? How proficient were the teachers in using other types of educational software in their classes? How different are the teachers in the study from the ones that will be using the software in your school?

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Students. How were the students selected? Were students with particular characteristics (e.g., intellectual capability, ethnicity, language skills, parental education) included or excluded? Did certain types of students drop out of the study and, if so, how many(differential sample attrition)? How proficient were the students in using computers and how often did they use computers in other classes? Were these students the types of students who might use computers in the home on a regular basis? How different are the students in the study from those students who will be using the software in your school? Is the software appropriate for the skill level and experience of the students in your school? There can be substantial differences in the uses of technology with different types of students.

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This site was created by the Center for Technology in Learning at SRI International under a task order from the Planning and Evaluation Service, U.S. Department of Education (DHHS Contract # 282-00-008-Task 3).



Last updated on: 11/04/02

 

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