GSM – Month 9

1. Describe in detail the methods, quantitative, qualitative or a mixed approach, you used for Cycle 1 data collection.

I used both quantitative and qualitative data collection for cycle 1 because there are so many ways to assess the quality and value of education. Since there are so many opportunities to collect data, I made an attempt to collect as much as possible in as many ways as possible.

  • Quantitatively I collected data on student performance that I was able to compare to the previous classes of the last two months in particular. There are 4 tests in both lab and lecture that are assessments of the material covered in class. We have been administering variations of these tests for quite some time now, though we made some changes to the assessments based on the adjustments we made to the course material. Attendance records were kept as well for every lab and lecture, and they could be compared to the attendance records we have kept for previous terms. Every lab and lecture class counts for 3 hours of attendance and attendance is taken twice every class. I was also able to look at the number of students who failed the class to compare to previous classes as a measure of student success. Comparing averages of all this quantitative data provided straight forward results that would show if students were making improvements or not.
  • Data was collected qualitatively in several different ways as well from the input of students, instructors, and the class student advisor. At the beginning of the class I sent a link to an entrance survey asking students about their computer experience and I also had them take a similar exit survey that focused a little more on how much they had learned. There was also an extra credit assignment asking the students directly what they learned from class. An evaluation that the students filled out in the last lecture class on how they felt about the overall quality of the class and instructors provided another source of qualitative feedback. Betti Gutierrez, the student advisor that has been working closely with my class, collected more data by documenting the reasons students said they were missing class and having trouble. The lab instructors provided weekly feedback during course meetings and we discussed what seemed to be working or what wasn’t. With all of those individuals elaborating on their experience and providing input, I’ve ended up with a substantial amount of data, but I think it is better to have too much data than too little. The process of sorting it out and making sense of it all has required quite a bit of chunking and sorting.

2. Describe, synthesize, and compare the data found for Cycle 1 and Cycle 2.

For cycle 1 there was a noticeable improvement in student attendance and grades. The student attitudes were slightly better in general, and there was an overall increase in the basic understanding of how to care for their computers. Students said they learned a lot about their computers and they scored better on tests. Overall attendance also improved. The biggest improvement was that the month before cycle 1 we had just under a 25% failure rate and for cycle 1 it dropped down to less than 10%. Some students also connected with professional websites and found them useful for their education and future careers, but there still seemed to be some resistance to the more technical topics.

Cycle 2 ended up with a somewhat higher failure rate, just under 12%, and attendance was slightly lower at a little below 77%, where cycle 1 was over 78%. Scores for cycle 2 were higher than in previous classes with an average of 77.9%. We are still finding students having horrible anxiety over the math aspects of the course, so this is the next obstacle. Both cycles showed improved student engagement and understanding of how to use their computers and be responsible digital citizens. I am still looking through the extra credit submissions and we are waiting for the results of the evaluations to complete the data collection for cycle 2. Since cycle 2 involved only a few adjustments compared to cycle 1, it went a little more smoothly in general. There were a few outside factors that affected lab instructor’s and my schedule that had to be dealt with during cycle 2, but I am expecting slightly better feedback from the students in the course evaluation results. All of the instructors seemed more comfortable with the revised curriculum the second time around.

3. Describe the ways that GSM contributed to your Action Research.

I believe after I have finished Game Strategies and Motivation that I will have some more ideas for activities to break up some of my lectures. I’m not sure exactly what type of game I will come up with, but I’m thinking I will develop a story line about a recording session, and along the way there will be problems that require troubleshooting. I will ask students to describe how the equipment should be connected, and what type of cables to use. I’m not sure if I’ll have them do it in teams, or call on them individually, but I’m thinking that as a prize for correctly explaining the elements of signal flow and troubleshooting I will offer them a free question or pass for the next class quiz. It would allow them to pick one question they’re not sure about and have it counted correct. I’ve also thought about a card game where the cards in the deck have different audio equipment and descriptions, and students have to draw cards from the deck and put the signal flow together. When they have 3 cards in their hand that all connect together it would be a match that could be played and played off of by others. I was thinking that the winning team or individual might be able to select a homework assignment that the rest of the class has to do.

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