Research Study: The Impact of iPads on Student Learning

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Over the course of the 2012-2013 school year, research and data collection were conducted at St. Gabriels Catholic School in Austin, TX to gauge the impact on student learning with the introduction of iPads in Grades 2 through 5.


<ul><li>1.THE IMPACT OF IPADS ON STUDENT LEARNING PREPARED BY MATTHEW LIPSTEIN , TECHNOLOGY CHAMPION ST. GABRIELS CATHOLIC SCHOOL, AUSTIN , TEXAS AUGUST, 2013 RESEARCH STUDY </li></ul><p>2. ABOUT THE RESEARCH STUDY The data, research and analysis that inform this paper were collected over the course of the 2012-2013 school year. The Research Study was completed in the Summer of 2013. All research and data collection occurred at St. Gabriels Catholic School in Austin, Texas. This project would not have been possible without the generous participation and support of St. Gabriels Catholic School administrators, faculty, students and families. Specifically, Interim Head of School, Dr. Judy Knotts, and Director of Technology, Tracy Mulligan were invaluable for their time, input and guidance. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Matthew Lipstein is the Technology Champion for St. Gabriels Catholic School. In this role, he manages all aspects of the Schools iPad program in addition to tracking metrics and assessments which help gauge the success of the implementation. Since 2002, he has worked since 2002 at independent schools in New York City and Austin, Texas providing leadership and vision around student, faculty and administrator use of educational technology. ABOUT ST. GABRIELS CATHOLIC SCHOOL Located on 32 acres of rolling hill country in Austin, Texas, St. Gabriels Catholic School is a community for learning focused on helping children excel academically, grow in virtue, and acquire the leadership skills, experiences and confidence required to form the foundation for successful and meaningful lives. Serving children in grades Junior Kindergarten through 8th, St. Gabriels gives children an academic advantage, enabling them to excel in school and to gain a strong, intellectual foundation. The School seeks to create a safe and nurturing community that helps instill in children the virtues, judgment and courage to do what is good and right. Ultimately, St. Gabriels is focused on engaging young minds and readying them for leadership at school, in their communities, and in the world. i 3. 1. Executive Summary 3 2. Introduction 4 3. iPad Program Background 6 4. Methodology 8 5. Findings &amp; Results 12 6. Conclusion &amp; Discussion 20 7. Limitations 22 8. Works Cited 23 CONTENTS ii 4. Over the course of the 2012-2013 school year, research and data collection was conducted at St. Gabriels Catholic School to gauge the impact on student learning with the introduction of iPads in Grades 2 through 5. The goal of this study was to determine if there existed a correlational relationship, whether it be positive or negative, between a students use of an iPad and their performance on assessments. This study did not attempt to establish causality between iPad use and test scores. Students were grouped into two discreet clusters: Grade 4 &amp; 5 students and Grade 2 &amp; 3 students. Grade 4 &amp; 5 students utilized the eSpark program to provide instruction on targeted content specific to the needs of each student. Assessments were conducted using the Lets Go Learn program. Because all Grade 4 &amp; 5 students used the eSpark program, and the material studied was differentiated for each student, growth was measured by comparing a students assessment data in their eSpark area of focus against the areas of focus where they did not use eSpark. Conversely, Grade 2 &amp; 3 students utilized a variety of Apps and websites that provided instruction for a given Math unit, and their assessments were performed via the program. During a unit only one of the two grade level classes received iPads to work with, thus establishing a control group. Assessment data was compared between the class that utilized iPads and the corresponding class that did not use iPads during the same Math unit. Key Findings Grade 4 &amp; 5 students overall showed at least twice the level of growth in their eSpark areas of focus when compared to their growth in areas where they did not use eSpark. Grade 2 &amp; 3 students who used iPads for a Math unit overall saw slightly higher levels of growth when compared to the class which did not use iPads. Given these results, St. Gabriels Catholic School is confident that targeted student use of an iPad results in stronger learning outcomes for students, as demonstrated by assessment data. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 1 3 5. Still in its relative infancy, the iPad is a device that is unique both for its perceived potential use as a learning tool for students, and for the overwhelming rate of adoption in schools world-wide. The iPad was introduced in Spring of 2010, and was adopted quickly and fervently by educational institutions as a potential game-changer for students. The iPad is just one device in a long list of educational technology tools that have aided student learning. Technology is seen by most as an essential tool students can use to receive instruction, learn, create, communicate, and grow. The White House Council of Economic Advisors (2011) suggests that the payoff of utilizing educational technologies (not specifically iPads), that can lead to better outcomes for students, could be enormous. Furthermore, the iPad has been lauded as revolutionary in education, and there are many explanations that researchers and educators use to explain why they feel the iPad is more significant than the educational technology tools that preceded it. For many, the iPad is seen as a robust and efficient tool that combines a variety of pre-existing educational technology tools into one device. Ireland and Woolerton (2010) outlined many pragmatic and pedagogical benefits of this device unification, including audio and video material being controlled by the student rather than the teacher, instant-access to the web, and an institutions library for research purposes, and the potential for students to author his/her own material. Cohen, in his study Young Children, Apps &amp; iPad (2011), examined the potential an iPad allows for a new kind of learning to exist. His findings indicate that there are several types of learning that occur during App play. These include: the tacit learning of the game and how it works; mastering of explicit learning tasks (e.g., matching, counting) embedded in the game narrative; and the use of skills and models learned and applied to other types of games and levels of play. Engaging with creative App activities often shifts the childs focus away from the subjective experience of winning or losing to a personal-best competition. Additionally, children progress quickly from novice to mastery when using a well-designed App. According to Manuguerra and Petocz (2011) who write in their study Promoting Student Engagement by Integrating New Technology into Tertiary Education: The INTRODUCTION 2 4 6. Role of the iPad, that the iPad has been used as a means to engage, inspire and motivate students through high-level presentation and communication tools. It has changed the pedagogical approach, making the learning experience simpler and yet deeper. The results show that students learn best when technologies are seamlessly integrated into the curriculum to enhance their learning experience. Perhaps the greatest potential seen with the iPad is the opportunity for true differentiation in the classroom - allowing each student to receive tailored instruction to meet them where they are on the learning continuum. Differentiated learning environments, or Personal Learning Environments as described by Johnson, Adams and Haywood in The NMC Horizon Report: 2011 K-12 Edition (2011), are conceived as drawing on a variety of discrete tools, chosen by the learner, which can be connected or used in concert in a transparent way while still allowing for flexibility and customization. Cohen (2011) explains that by combining software that can accurately assess and adjust the level of challenge accordingly with a high-level of student engagement and optimal content, the resulting environment will sustain a students play and learning. It has been noted by many, including the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (2010) the iPad alone is simply just a device - another tool in the teaching and learning toolkit. More so, it has been offered by Michel Cohen (2011) as well as the Bill &amp; Melinda Gates Foundation (2012) that even with the high-levels of enthusiasm students have for the iPads, the device itself does not guarantee engagement and learning. Rather, it is the combination of the iPad with effective teachers and pedagogy that allow for the true benefits of the technology for students. There also exists a growing demand for analytics to quantify the impact the iPad can make on a students education. Cohen (2011) indicates that analytics should be used in the service of extending and refining learning. In considering the impact of tracking student data, Johnson, Adams and Haywood (2011) explain that by analyzing the results, one would see not only the change in student performance, but would also see results in how educators perceive teaching, learning, and assessment. Suddenly, models of curriculum are more fluid and open to change. The introduction of iPads to St. Gabriels Catholic School afforded an opportunity to systematically create metrics and run assessments to gauge the devices impact on student learning, specifically by analyzing data collected via student assessments. 5 7. St. Gabriels Catholic School is a Junior Kindergarten through 8th grade school located in Austin, Texas. In the 2012-2013 school year, the Schools enrollment was approximately 420 students. Through a generous donation to the School, iPads were initially introduced to faculty in the fall of 2012, and then subsequently to students in the winter of 2012. The iPads were distributed in the following manner: 1:1 iPad Program in Grades 4 &amp; 5 (92 iPads) Students in these grades each received their own iPad which they were responsible for bringing back and forth to school. Shared iPad Carts (55 iPads) Students in Junior Kindergarten through Grade 3 shared iPads which were available in hallway carts. Each class had five iPads designated for student use, which were typically used during centers time. However, it was not uncommon for a teacher to take a full-class set for a specific lesson. Faculty, Administrators &amp; Staff (55 iPads) Each faculty member received their own iPad to be used as a teaching tool. Additionally, select administrators and staff members also received iPads for use at school. It is worth noting that while Middle School students had access to iPads for specific projects or lessons, the decision was made to not deploy iPads to those grades as Middle School students were already engaged in a 1:1 laptop program. The role of the Technology Champion at the School was also introduced with the advent of the iPad distribution. The primary goal of the Technology Champion is to assist faculty and administrators in using iPads as a tool to positively affect teaching and learning outcomes. Additionally, it is the Technology Champions responsibility to establish metrics and preform assessments that gauge the effectiveness of the iPads impact on education. Beginning in the fall of 2012 and extending through the school year ending in Spring IPAD PROGRAM BACKGROUND 3 6 8. 2013, research and data collection was preformed by the Technology Champion that ultimately informed the content of this research study. Since the introduction of iPads to the School, much work has been done to train faculty on effective use of the device, including professional development opportunities offered both within and outside of school. Lastly, the iPad implementation was largely guided by the goals of the St. Gabriels Wings program at the School. The program has three main tenets: The goal of all technology use at St. Gabriel's Catholic School is to have a positive impact on the education of our students Wherever possible, technology will be used to transform the student experience, rather than replicate it The use of educational technology will sharpen students' 21st Century skills By keeping the focus of iPad and technology usage on these tenets, the discussions were guided away from the iPad itself, and shifted to what the device allows teachers and students to accomplish. 7 9. Given the variety of iPad implementations at different grade levels, different methodologies and data collection techniques were used throughout the school year. Overall the goal was to assess student knowledge of a particular learning objective before the start of a unit, introduce the iPad loaded with targeted Apps and videos to be used as an instructional tool by some or all of the students, and then assess the students knowledge again after the unit was complete. It has been a constant goal of this research to avoid any attempts in establishing any causality between iPad use and student behavior. Given the multitude of factors at play during a students education, we did not feel comfortable stating that the introduction of an iPad was the sole reason for any changes in student performance. Rather, it has been our focus to simply research if a correlation could be established between iPad use and the impact on a students learning. After some consideration, the decision was made to focus on Grades 4 &amp; 5 and Grades 2 &amp; 3 as the sample of students to be analyzed for this research study. The methodology was that these grades, while utilizing different types of iPad implementations, would provide the greatest opportunity to observe the impact of iPads on learning. Below are the approaches to data collection and analysis that we employed at the different grade levels. Grades 4 &amp; 5: iPads and eSpark Every student in Grades 4 &amp; 5 (ninety-two students total) participated in a 1:1 iPad deployment where they received their own iPad and brought it back and forth to school each day. In an effort to take advantage of the potential for differentiation in a 1:1 deployment, St. Gabriels Catholic School partnered with eSpark. The eSpark program is designed specifically for iPads, leveraging the device as a personal learning environment by creating a custom curriculum for each student. As well, the ongoing data-collection that is part of the eSpark process allowed us to analyze the impact of the eSpark program and the iPads. METHODOLOGY 4 8 10. Below is an explanation of the overall steps in the eSpark process for assessing students and creating custom curricula for students. eSpark Process 1. Pre-Assessment All Grade 4 &amp; 5 students took a pre-assessment using the adaptive web-based testing tool called Let's Go Learn. This established baseline scores in the areas of reading and math. 2. Goal Setting The assessment results were sent to eSpark who recommended areas of focus for every student. Each goal aligned to a Co...</p>