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Reflection and the Middle School Blogger:Do Blogs Support Reflective Practices? Beverly B. Ray and Martha M. Hocutt


Research examined 12 randomly selected blogs from a population of 38 teacher-created, teaching-centered blogs to determine whether they were useful reflective devices for practicing middle school teachers. The amount and depth of reflective practice, as measured by a researcher-created rubric, was examined as well. Results indicated that all participants engaged in some level of reflective writing. However, the depth and level of reflection varied within and among the blogs. The results reported here are useful for framing future research on the efficacy of middle school teacher blogs.

Among the key findings for me:

•A majority (78%, n=56) of individual entries demonstrated some level of reflective writing.

•The results of this study give insight into the efficacy of blogs when used by middle school educators. These results demonstrate the potential usefulness of blogs in promoting reflective practice with practicing teachers. However, results do not demonstrate that blogs are being utilized effectively for reflective purposes.

The educated blogger: Using weblogs to promote literacy in the classroom by David Huffaker


This paper explores the role of weblogs or "blogs" in classroom settings. Blogs, which resemble personal journals or diaries and provide an online venue where self–expression and creativity is encouraged and online communities are built, provide an excellent opportunity for educators to advance literacy through storytelling and dialogue. This paper explores the importance of literacy and storytelling in learning, and then juxtaposes these concepts with the features of blogs. The paper also reviews examples of blogs in practice.

Among the key findings for me:

•Weblogs provide an excellent opportunity for educators to advance literacy through storytelling and dialogue.

•The characteristics of weblogs such as the personal space it provides and the linkages with an online community create an excellent computer–mediated communication context for individual expressions and collaborative interactions in the form of storytelling and dialogue

Learning with Weblogs: An Empirical Investigation by Helen S Du and Christian Wagner

Abstract The study investigates the impact of weblog use on individual learning in a university environment. Weblogs are a relatively new knowledge sharing technology, which enables people to record their thoughts in diary form and publish those diaries as web pages, without programming or HTML coding. The research sought to empirically determine whether the keeping of on-going (web based) learning logs throughout a semester would result in better overall student performance. This was hypothesized, because web based learning logs appear to promote constructivist learning, provide reinforcement, and increase accountability (non-anonymous idea sharing). Results from an information systems undergraduate course with 31 students indicate that weblog performance is a significant predictor for learning outcome, while traditional coursework is not. Weblogs appear to have highest predictive power for high and low performing students, but much less predictive value for medium performers. Results also suggest that there is a learning effect for weblog authoring.

Among the key findings for me:

•As a performance predictor, weblogs appear to be more appropriate than traditional course work. Capturing breadth and depth of topic coverage, and requiring students to place their work under public scrutiny appears to better prepare them for a comprehensive final exam and overall course performance.

•Weblogs enhance the traditional learning log, which facilitates cognitive constructivism, with collaborative elements, which facilitate social constructivism.

Ertmer, P. A, Richardson, J. C., Belland, B., Camin, D., Connolly, P., Coulthard, G. et. al. (2007). Using peer feedback to enhance the quality of student online postings: An exploratory study. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 12(2), article 4. http://jcmc.indiana.edu/vol12/issue2/ertmer.html


This study investigates the impact of peer feedback used as an instructional strategy to increase the quality of students' online postings. While peer feedback has been demonstrated to support students' learning in traditional classrooms, little is known about its efficacy in online discussions. To address this gap, we examined students' perceptions of the value of giving and receiving peer feedback, specifically related to the quality of discussion postings in an online course. In addition, we investigated the impact of that feedback by comparing the quality of students' postings, based on Bloom's taxonomy, from pre-course to post-course. Results suggest that the quality of students' postings was maintained through the use of peer feedback despite students' preferences for instructor feedback. Students noted that peer feedback can be valuable and, more importantly, described how giving peer feedback not only reinforced their learning but enabled them to achieve higher understanding.

Among the key findings for me:

•based on the results of this research, instructors might consider the following recommendations when designing and implementing online learning environments that incorporate peer feedback:

  1. Help students understand not only how the peer feedback process works, but why it is being used (e.g., to provide additional feedback, to better gauge postings).
  2. Model and provide examples of effective feedback prior to implementing the peer feedback process.
  3. Provide guidelines regarding how to provide effective peer feedback, such as "always begin with positive feedback and then offer information on areas for improvement."
  4. Monitor the process and, in turn, provide feedback on the feedback, at least initially, to help the process run smoothly and to allow students to benefit from the strategy.
  5. Ensure that the feedback is anonymous so that students can provide ratings without feeling pressure from peers.
  6. Use multiple peer ratings for each response in order to provide an aggregated view of the value of the response.
  7. Ensure that the process is easy for students to implement so as not to overwhelm them.

Nelson, L., & Feinstein, S. (2007, January 1). Research on Writing Conventions: U R What U Write. Online Submission


The purpose of this quantitative study is to determine how secondary students use conventions in classroom composition assignments compared to the Internet writing outlets of e-mail, instant messaging, and blogs. Thirty-two ninth grade students were identified to participate in this study. Half of the participants were deeply involved in online communication and half rarely wrote online. The main instrument involved was the 6+1 Trait Writing method rubric, which has enjoyed long-standing use in schools. The study found that students appropriately switched gears when writing in different situations. Students adhered to standard conventions in both classroom compositions and online writing. Students who wrote via e-mail, IM, and/or blogs showed worse usage of standard conventions than those students who did not write online except when it came to thoroughly poor users of conventions. However, online communicators demonstrated a slightly better command of grammar, spelling, and punctuation. The findings of this study indicate that it is important to continue teaching conventions in our schools. Students need to view content, form, and conventions as inseparable. (Contains 8 figures.)

Among the key findings for me:

The focus of this reading is on using good grammar, spelling, and punctuation - by comparing online writing to offline writing. The answer to this seems - well - obvious. I mean, who marks the grammar of an IM conversation?

  • Students do adhere in some fashion to standard conventions in both classroom compositions and online writing; however, the former endures inconsistent application, and the latter suffers a downright shoddy performance.
  • Students who write via e-mail, IM, and/or blogs show worse usage of standard conventions than those students who do not write online except when it comes to thoroughly poor users of conventions. Then, online communicators demonstrate a slightly better command of grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
  • Students, for the most part, do switch gears when writing in different situations.

Dickey, M. (2004) The impact of web-logs (blogs) on student perceptions of isolation and alienation in a web-based distance-learning environment. Open Learning, 19(3)


In the rush to promote the use of computer-mediated technologies for both traditional and distance learning, relatively little research has been conducted about learner feelings of isolation, alienation and frustration. More recent technologies such as web-logs (blogs) may provide a wider range of tools for bridging learners’ feelings of isolation. The purpose of this research is to investigate the impact of using blogs in a web-based learning environment. This qualitative investigation presents an interpretive case study of student perceptions of using blogs in a web-based technology integration course for K-12 pre-service teacher education students. Findings indicate that the use of blogs helped prevent feelings of isolation and alienation for distance learners.

Among the key findings for me:

In the process of reviewing

Social Networks

“boyd, danah. (in press) Why Youth (Heart) Social Network Sites: The Role of Networked Publics in Teenage Social Life.” MacArthur Foundation Series on Digital Learning, Identity Volume (ed. David Buckingham).


I then examine how teens are modeling identity through social network profiles so that they can write themselves and their community into being. Building on this, I investigate how this process of articulated expression supports critical peer-based sociality because, by allowing youth to hang out amongst their friends and classmates, social network sites are providing teens with a space to work out identity and status, make sense of cultural cues, and negotiate public life. I argue that social network sites are a type of networked public with four properties that are not typically present in face-to-face public life: persistence, searchability, exact copyability, and invisible audiences. These properties fundamentally alter social dynamics, complicating the ways in which people interact. I conclude by reflecting on the social developments that have prompted youth to seek out networked publics, and considering the changing role that publics have in young people’s lives.

Among the key findings for me:

•We are doing our youth a disservice if we believe that we can protect them from the world by limiting their access to public life. They must enter that arena, make mistakes, and learn from them. Our role as adults is not to be their policemen, but to be their guide.

•The fundamental properties of networked publics – persistence, searchability, replicability, and invisible audiences – are unfamiliar to the adults that are guiding them through social life.

“Susan, Barnes. (in press) A privacy paradox: Social Networking in the United States


Teenagers will freely give up personal information to join social networks on the Internet. Afterwards, they are surprised when their parents read their journals. Communities are outraged by the personal information posted by young people online and colleges keep track of student activities on and off campus. The posting of personal information by teens and students has consequences. This article will discuss the uproar over privacy issues in social networks by describing a privacy paradox; private versus public space; and, social networking privacy issues. It will finally discuss proposed privacy solutions and steps that can be taken to help resolve the privacy paradox.

Among the key findings for me:

Process of reviewing.

Pew Internet and American Life Study - Social Networking Websites and Teens: An Overview (1/7/2007)


A social networking site is an online place where a user can create a profile and build a personal network that connects him or her to other users. In the past five years, such sites have rocketed from a niche activity into a phenomenon that engages tens of millions of internet users. More than half (55%) of all online American youths ages 12-17 use online social networking sites, according to a new national survey of teenagers conducted by the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

Among the key findings for me:

•55% of online teens have created a personal profile online, and 55% have used social networking sites like MySpace or Facebook.

•66% of teens who have created a profile say that their profile is not visible by all internet users. They limit access to their profiles.

•48% of teens visit social networking websites daily or more often; 26% visit once a day, 22% visit several times a day.

•Older girls ages 15-17 are more likely to have used social networking sites and online profiles; 70% of older girls have used an online social network compared with 54% of older boys, and 70% of older girls have created an online profile, while only 57% boys have done so.

Creating And Connecting Research and Guidelines on Online Social and Educational NetworkingGrunwald Associates LLC (September 2007)


The study is comprised of three parallel national surveys with Kids ages 9-17, Parents and School District Decision Makers with carefully constructed, nationally representative samples of 1,000 teens/children, 1,000 parents and 250 school districts.

Among the key findings for me:

Trying to get access to the study.

boyd, d. m., & Ellison, N. B. (2007). Social network sites: Definition, history, and scholarship. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 13(1), article 11.

Abstract Social network sites (SNSs) are increasingly attracting the attention of academic and industry researchers intrigued by their affordances and reach. This special theme section of the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication brings together scholarship on these emergent phenomena. In this introductory article, we describe features of SNSs and propose a comprehensive definition. We then present one perspective on the history of such sites, discussing key changes and developments. After briefly summarizing existing scholarship concerning SNSs, we discuss the articles in this special section and conclude with considerations for future research.

Among the key findings for me:

Process of reviewing

Web 2.0

What is Web 2.0? Ideas, technologies and implications for education by Paul Anderson


The report establishes that Web 2.0 is more than a set of ‘cool’ and new technologies and services, important though some of these are. It has, at its heart, a set of at least six powerful ideas that are changing the way some people interact. Secondly, it is also important to acknowledge that these ideas are not necessarily the preserve of ‘Web 2.0’, but are, in fact, direct or indirect reflections of the power of the network: the strange effects and topologies at the micro and macro level that a billion Internet users produce.

Among the key findings for me:

• Key Ideas: Individual production and User Generated Content, Harness the power of the crowd, Data on an epic scale, Architecture of Participation, Network Effects and Openness.

• So why do people engage in peer production like this? Chris Anderson (2006) says: ‘the motives to create are not the same in the head as they are in the tail’ (see section 3.5.4). People are driven by monetary motives at the head, but the coin of the realm at the lower end of the tail is reputation’ (p. 73). We are living in more of an exposure culture, where ‘getting noticed is everything’ (Tim Wu, Professor of Law, in Anderson, 2006, p. 74).

Zone of Proximal Development

Roland G. Tharp and Ronald Gallimore, "The Instructional Conversation: Teaching and Learning in Social Activity" (January 1, 1991). Center for Research on Education, Diversity & Excellence. NCRCDSLL Research Reports. Paper rr02.


For more than a century, American schooling has been conducted in much the same way: The teacher assigns a text for the students to master and then assesses their learning. Known as the "recitation script," this repeated cycle of assign-assess is far from the natural kind of teaching by which societies have been instructing their young since the dawn of time. Contemporary educational reform is now emphasizing the fundamental, natural method of teaching, which is the assisting of learners through the instructional conversation.

Newly understood through the principles of socio-higorical theory, real teaching is understood as assisting the learner to perform just beyond his or her current capacity. This assistance in the "zone of proximal development" awakens and rouses into life the mental capacities of learners of all ages. This assistance is best provided through the instructional conversation, a dialogue between teacher and learners in which the teacher listens carefully to grasp the students' communicative intent, and tailors the dialogue to meet the emerging understanding of the learners.

This pattern of relationship should be characteristic of the communication of the entire school, in which the teachers assist and converse with one another, administrators assist and converse with teachers, and administration provides activity settings in which these instructional conversations can occur. such a school becomes a true community of learner, in which school reliably assists the performance of all.

Among the key findings for me:

In the process of reviewing.

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