Section 1 Background

There are five National Priorities in Education (see appendix two). The first of these is ‘Achievement and Attainment’. This priorities aim is “To Raise standards of educational attainment for all schools…”. The second priority is ‘Framework for learning”. Its aim is “… to enhance school environments so that they are conductive to teaching and learning”.

This brief paper seeks to measure the effect of using an Interactive whiteboards in the teaching of IT on attainment. Specifically when they are used to demonstrate and teach the use of software, in this case Spreadsheets. An Interactive Whiteboard is a large, touch sensitive board which, is connected to a computer. The computer is also connected to a projector which, projects the computer screen on to the board. The computer can then be controlled using the Interactive Whiteboard. There has been recent, and considerable, investment in the installation of Interactive Whiteboards in schools throughout the UK (Glover & Miller, quoted on Becta website).

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Although a relatively new innovation in teaching, there has been some research conducted already. Levy (quoted on Becta website) found the following benefits associated with the use of Interactive boards:

1. Increases the enjoyment of lessons through more dynamic use of resources, with associated gains in motivation.

2. Greater opportunities for participation and collaboration developing students personal and social skills.

3. Enables students to be more creative in presenting to their classmates, increasing self confidence.

4. Sharing of ideas and resources among teachers.

On a similar theme, Smith (quoted on Becta website), conclluded that:

1. Students are able to cope with more complex concepts as a result of clearer, more efficient & more dynamic presentations.

2. Interactive Whiteboards are versatile with applications for all ages across the curriculum.

McCormick & Scrimshaw (2001) (quoted in Glover & Millar) found three distinct ways where Interactive Whiteboards were being used in the classroom:

1. As an aid to efficiency where the enhanced screen size has led to improved vision of video material.

2. As an extension device with the integration of multimedia materials to the point that the quality of teaching is improved.

3. As a transformative device where learning takes place through board interaction.

There are two rationales for carrying out this research: Firstly, a review of the literature to date provides many examples of research with similar conclusions to the above articles. There is overwhelming praise and positive feedback on the use of Interactive Whiteboards. However, little research has been done to look at their specific effect on attainment. This is closely related to the National priorities. Secondly, carrying out research such as this demonstrates some of the key components of the ‘Standard for Chartered Teacher’ (2002). Carrying out research demonstrates “ Effectiveness in promoting learning in the Classroom” (p6) as it demonstrates a teachers motivation to be effective in securing the educational progress of learners. It also shows a desire to “Critical self-evaluation and development” (p6). Research also inevitably leads to enhanced “Professional Knowledge and Understanding” (p7). In particular, this project demonstrates “Effectiveness in Promoting Learning” (p8). Therefore, this research directly demonstrates some of the key components of the Standard for Chartered Teacher.

Section 2 – Design & Implementation

The aim of this paper is to investigate whether there was any link between using Interactive Whiteboards and attainment.

As can be seen from section 1, there has been little research on the direct impact of Interactive Whiteboards on attainment. In measuring the effect of using an Interactive board two groups were chosen. Each group consisted of three S1 boys and three S1 girls. A series of introductory lessons on Spreadsheets was taught to each group. S1 only receive IT one period a week. Therefore, the content took three weeks to complete. A test was administered in week four. The detailed lesson content taught to both groups is as follows:

Lesson

Content

Practical Tasks

One

Concepts of cells, rows & columns. Row & column labelling. Formatting of row height, column width & font size. Text entry

To design and create their timetable using a spreadsheet package manipulating cells and rows as appropriate.

Two

Numeric entry. Simple formula, addition, multiplication, subtraction and division based on two cells.

Entering columns of random numbers and performing arithmetic operations on them.

Three

Text & numeric entry. The concepts of the Sum function and replication.

Creating a simple account for a computer shop.

The test was administered to both the control group and the experimental group and the results analysed for any significant variation.

Population Sample

The pupils in the control and experimental groups were selected in order to match their ability levels as closely as possible. This matching was done by a variety of methods:

1. By choosing pupils with the similar predicted results from Cognitive Ability Testing (CAT) administered at the beginning of S1.

2. By choosing pupils of the same age.

3. By choosing a sample (of the same size) of both male and female pupils.

4. By choosing pupils who have achieved the same 5-14 levels in other IT units.

5. By choosing pupils who have actively displayed a positive attitude to IT i.e. attendance at Computing clubs.

6. By choosing pupils both willing to use the Interactive Whiteboard and also pupils who were more reticent, this was in order to give as representative sample as possible.

Groups

The control group was chosen from one class using the matching criteria above. They were taught the content outlined using the following methods:

1. Board work – a spreadsheet is drawn on a board and the various concepts outlined by exposition and teacher demonstration.

2. Worksheets. Containing a number of practical tasks which the pupils complete at the computers.

3. Booklets containing practice exercises and a tasks to be completed each week.

This is the current method of teaching this unit in the school to all S1 classes. It relies heavily on individulised learning with a fairly brief teacher exposition followed by pupils working their way through booklets which give further exposition and practice exercises. The pupils then complete a variety of practical tasks (see lesson content).

The experimental group were chosen from another class but mirror the control group using the matching criteria as closely as possible. This class were taught the content by the following methods:

1. Interactive Whiteboard – After a brief exposition to set up the learning experience, twenty to twenty five minutes were used to give several demonstrations of the concepts using the Whiteboard, initially by the teacher but thereafter the pupils took turns highlighting and adjusting cells, columns and rows, inputting formula and replicating etc.

2. The above culminated in a brief demonstration of the type of practical task they would have to perform and then the same worksheets as were used with the control group were administered.

The make up of the control group drawn from practical set 1J is shown below:

Group 1 –

Control Group

Age

CAT score

5-14 Word Processing level

Isla

12

5

C

Cameron

12

2

D

Peter

12

2

D

Rose

12

3/2

D

Christina

12

4

C

Ross

12

2

D

The make up of the experimental group drawn from practical set 1G is shown below:

Group 2 – Experimental group

Age

CAT score

5-14 Word Processing level

Susan

11

2

D

Hazel

12

4

C

John-Paul

12

4

C

Hamish

12

2

D

Frazer

12

2

D

Amberley

12

3

C

These classes were chosen as they are both taught on a Tuesday, therefore, there was no chance of public holidays interfearing. Also, they are taught on consecutive periods. 1J are taught period two on a Tuesday. The board was set up during interval and 1G are taught directly after the interval. This gives little time to introduce bias by reflecting on one performance and unintentionally trying to improve it. Both groups consisted of different ability levels based on CAT scores and prior attainment. Again, to prevent any bias, the pupils were not made aware of the research.

Section 3 – Data Collection

Data was collected from the test administered to both groups. The test covered all aspects of the lesson content outlined in section 2. The test had 5 Knowledge & Understanding (KU) marks and 5 Problem Solving (PS) marks. The rest of the marks were awarded through completion of a practical task using Microsoft Excel. In this way, each assessable construct (KU, PS & PA) was tested for any significant variation. There was no time limit set other than it had to be completed within one period. The rational for this was that there is significant variation in the speed at which pupils complete practical tasks, some pupils being more comfortable with the keyboard than others – this was not a test of typing speed. A copy of the test can be found at appendix one

If there is a positive variation i.e. the experimental group out performed the control group then one could tentatively put forward the conclusion that the Interactive Whiteboard had a positive impact on attainment. If the findings are negative then one could put forward the conclusion that the Interactive Whiteboard has had a negative impact on attainment. If there is no significant variation, one could conclude that the Interactive Whiteboard had no significant impact on attainment.

The results for the Control group were as follows:

Group 1 –

Control Group

KU

PS

PA

Total

Isla

2

2

5

9

Cameron

4

3

8

15

Peter

3

3

7

13

Rose

3

2

6

11

Christina

2

2

5

9

Ross

4

4

7

15

Total

18

16

38

72

The results for the experimental group were as follows:

Group 2 – Experimental group

KU

PS

PA

Total

Susan

3

4

7

14

Hazel

4

2

7

13

John-Paul

3

2

6

11

Hamish

4

5

8

17

Frazer

3

3

7

13

Amberley

3

3

5

11

Total

20

19

40

79

Results Analysis

While not every pupil in the experimental group out performed every pupil in the control group, there was an overall increase in attainment, which largely followed the pupils CAT scores and prior attainment.

1. For Knowledge and Understanding, the control groups overall score (18 out of 30) was 60% while the experimental groups score (20 out of 30) was 66%. This represents an overall increase in attainment of 6 %.

2. For Problem Solving the control groups overall score (16 out of 30) was 53% while the experimental groups score (19 out of 30) was 63%. This represents an overall increase in attainment of 10%.

3. For Practical Ability, the control groups overall score (38 out of 60) was 63% while the experimental groups score (40 out of 60) was 66%. This represents an overall increase in attainment of 3%.

There is a significant variation in results across all three constructs. Whilst one could arguably have predicted some improvement the variation is significant. The most striking result is the increase of 10% in Problem Solving. The Knowledge and Understanding also improved significantly. These were perhaps to be expected due to a longer teacher exposition and the visual impact of the board. The increase in Practical Ability is the most marginal and somewhat unexpected as with greater ‘hands on’ experience in the experimental group, one could have predicted that this element should show the most significant variation.

There is a significant difference in attainment between the two groups. The only element that was changed was the method of teaching the material. This clearly demonstrates that Interactive Whiteboards have a significant positive impact on attainment. The control groups results in the test are typical based on an analysis of previous years S1.

In analysing why there is such variation in results, it is useful to consider Kyriacou (1997 p17) who describes effective teaching in terms of three models. The second model is a psychological level of analysis. This model suggests that there are three aspects of pupil learning which are crucial to effective teaching, they are:

1. The pupil must be attending to the learning experience.

2. The pupil must be receptive to the learning experience (in the sense of being motivated and having a willingness to learn and respond to the experience).

3. The learning experience must be appropriate for the intended learning outcomes.

The teaching of a software package using an Interactive Whiteboard closely matches this model of effective teaching. Due to intrinsic motivation and the ‘with-it-ness’ of the board, pupils were attentive and seemingly receptive. Also, the same author points out (1991, p52) that lesson management is the task of setting up activities that are both educationally effective and maintain pupils involvement. Again, the lessons using the Interactive Whiteboard appear to be more effective at doing this.

Pupils are growing up in a digital age with the advent of digital High Definition Television, Sophisticated mobile phones and computing devices, Mp3 players and portable gaming consols. The use of a technological piece of hardware taps into the pupils intrinsic motivation where the pupils want to learn how to use the Interactive Whiteboard and consequently, the software for their own sake. ‘Teaching for Effective Learning’ (1996, p7) states that “We are more likely to learn when we are motivated to do so”. Ranson (1994, p127) points out that for learning to be effective “it should motivate young people by engaging their interests and by relating to their experience”.

Another reason which could account for the experimental group’s results being significantly better is that the experimental group had more ‘Direct Teaching’ as opposed to the longer period of time spent by the control group engaged in individualised learning. Kyriacou (1997, P146) points out that direct teaching has been widely cited as promoting higher levels of pupil attainment.

Kyriacou (1991, p2) states that “activities must elicit and sustain pupils’ interest and motivation”. Also on page 33 of the same publication he quotes a wealth of evidence to support the claim that clarity of explanation makes a greater contribution to greater educational attainment. However, as he also points out (1997 p23), “any educational experience which requires pupils to interact in some way with the learning task in hand will result in some learning”. Kyriacou goes on to state (1997, p12) ten characteristics of effective teaching… I believe that my development helped contribute to improving these characteristics in my teaching. Stones (quoted in Kyriacou, 1997 p.34) argues that in all subjects, teachers need to spend time checking on pupils’ understanding of key concepts by giving them exemplars and non-exemplars. The Interactive whiteboard is an excellent way of doing this to a whole class by their active participation. Wragg & Brown (quoted Kyriacou, 1997 p.42) state that “effective explaining is still widely regarded as the most important of all the skills involved in effective teaching”. Again the Interactive whiteboard, I believe contributes toward this. Kyriacou (1997, p89) “the fact that pupils learn more effectively by doing rather than listening indicates that a greater emphasis should be given to pupil involvement…”.

Section 4 – Reflection

Although teaching for several years, the notion of the teacher as a researcher was one that I had not considered. However, the Standard for Chartered Teacher (p.11) states that teachers should “contribute to the literature on, and public discussion of, teaching and learning and education”. This makes it explicit that teacher should carry out research and contribute to the literature. I feel that with this module, I have carried out my first piece of Action Research. Pring (cited in Pollard, p.33) states that professional knowledge should be “tested out, reflected upon and adapted to new situations”. Kyriacou, (1997 p99 & p. 152) also suggests that a teacher’s ability to reflect on their practice is a key task of effective teaching.

The introduction of Interactive Whiteboards to the teaching of Spreadsheets in S1 only looked at attainment. There are many other aspects of the use of Interactive Whiteboards that could be studied. Indeed, the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (Becta) have recommended further research, both qualitative and quantitative. They also note (www.becta.org.uk/research) that most studies so far have been carried out in schools where the technology is still new to both teachers and pupils and further research will be needed once they are fully integrated into teaching. As Pollard points out (2002, P41) being a reflective teacher “suggests that critical reflection and systematic investigation of our own practice should become an integral part of our daily classroom lives”. After having now carried out a small piece of action research, I agree with this perspective. How else are we to improve our practice other than experimenting and finding new and more effective ways of teaching.

I feel that I have learned much from the study of effective teaching and it has impacted on my professional practice in many ways. I engage in more direct teaching methods. I will use Interactive Whiteboards more in lessons to explain, demonstrate, coach & check for understanding through pupil participation. My attitude and approach to research has changed significantly – I fully agree with the teachers role as a researcher. It has rejuvenated my teaching and I am actively seeking other areas of teaching to research ideally with a collegue from another department. I have now managed partly as a result of this paper to secure an Interactive Whiteboard for the Computing/Business Department. It is a tool that I intend to make widespread use of when appropriate.

Try to again mention and link it to the chartered teacher standards.

As Kyriacou points out (1991, p121) “as teachers develop greater expertises, they are also likely to gain promotion to posts which involve more administrative work and less classroom teaching”. Therefore some of the best teachers gradually do less teaching. He suggests one way around this is to develop the grade of expert teacher. I very much see the chartered teacher course in this light. As I gain increased expertise (and this module has opened up many avenues for me to explore in an attempt to increase my own performance) I will be rewarded for using that expertise in the classroom and to the benefit of pupils.

More chartered teacher stsndards. & national priorities

In conclusion, I believe that Kyriacou (1991, p.15) best sums up my chief gain from this module, “If your teaching is to retain the sharpness, freshness and cutting edge that characterises the most effective teaching, it is crucial that your skills are never allowed to rest for too long on the back burner”. This module has helped me develop my skills with new technology to make me a more effective teacher.

Appendix One: Test

Q1 In the above spreadsheet, what has been done to the cells in row 1?

PS (1)

Q2 How has the data in columns B & D been changed?

PS (1)

Q3 What has been done to the figures in column B & C to give the total in column D?

PS (1)

Q4 What formula has been used in D6?

KU (1)

Q5 Mac did not type formula in all of column D, how did he get the answers?

PS (2)

Q6 The formula in cell D10 is an example of what kind of function?

KU (1)

Q7 Explain how to change the format of a cell so that it looks like money.

KU (2)

Q8 Explain how to change the alignment of row 3.

KU (1)

Practical Task

Using Microsoft Excel, you are going to create a spreadsheet showing pupils scores in a series of class tests.

The spreadsheet should be laid out as shown below. (2)

Centre align and make bold the headings. (2)

Use a sum formula to calculate pupil totals. (2)

Merge the cells in row 1 and make them bold. (2)

Replication should be used for the formula in column E. (1)

Use a 14 Pt font size and change the column width and row height. (1)

Appendix Two

The National Priorities in Education

1. Achievement and Attainment

To raise standards of educational attainment for all schools, especially in the core skills of literacy and numeracy, and to achieve and to achieve better levels in national measure of achievement results.

2. Framework for Learning

To support and develop the skills of teachers, the self discipline of pupils and to enhance school environments so that they are conductive to teaching and learning.

3. Inclusion and Equality

To promote equality and help every pupil benefit from education, with particular regard paid to pupils with disabilities and special educational needs, and to Gaelic and other lesser used languages.

4. Values and Citizenship

To work with parents to teach pupils respect for self and one another and their independence with other members of their neighborhood and society to teach them the duties and responsibilities of citizenship in a democratic society.

5. Learning for Life

To equip pupils with the foundation skills, attitudes and expectations necessary to prosper in a changing society and to encourage creativity and ambition.

Appendix Three: References

Glover, D & Millar, D (2001) Running with Technology: the pedagogic impact of the large-scale introduction of Interactive Whiteboards in one Secondary school, United Kingdom: Keele University.

www.becta.org.uk/research – accessed 10/02/06

Kyriacou, C (1997) Effective Teaching in Schools (Theory and Practice), Cheltenham: Nelson Thornes.

Kyriacou, C (1991) Essential Teaching Skills, Cheltenham: Nelson Thornes.

Learning & Teaching Scotland (1996) Teaching for Effective Learning, Scottish Consultative Council on the Curriculum.

Levy, P (2002) Interactive Whiteboards in learning & teaching in two Sheffield schools: a developmental study, Department of Information Studies: University of Sheffield.

Pollard, A (2002) Reflective Teaching, London: Continuum

Ranson, S(1994) Towards the Learning Society, London: Cassell

Smith, A (2001) Smartboard Evaluation: final report, Kent NGfL. Http://www.kented.org/ngfl/whiteboards/report.html.

Scottish Executive Education Department (2002) Standard for Chartered Teacher, Edinburgh: HMSO.

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