What was I hoping to learn?
When I started this process, I needed to look for different ways to support my kids in their development of writing and critical thinking skills. As I had mentioned previously, I had just been introduced to the high effect size that feedback had on student achievement through some professional development courses I had attended. Peer feedback gave me a strategy to implement in my classroom that had been shown to be effective and was the focus of my action research. The question that I had was what was different than the research was what the impact would be in a middle school science classroom that was transitioning to new expectations. New expectations or writing, or critical thinking, and an ability to analyze and make sense of data that they collected. And what role would digital platforms play in this process? I got the answers I was looking for, but they weren't quite what I expected.
What role would digital platforms play in this process?
Over the course of my time in the program, my use of technology in the classroom has increased quite a bit. We have gone from using it every once in a while for presentations, to almost daily use. I have also moved from a substitution phase to an augmentation phase in the way that the students are engaging with the technology. I wanted to use my action research to further my growth as a teacher in the way that I integrate technology while specifically looking for students to build the skills that I mentioned above. When I finished both rounds of my research I had the answers I was looking for. And I hope that my findings will be beneficial for teachers who read this and are looking for effective ways to help students improve their critical thinking and writing skills.
What did the first round of research show? Significant gains.
As you can see below, the gains from my control group were fairly small (less than a point on a 1 point on a 16 point scale). My treatment group showed a roughly 2.5 point gain on the same scale. As a middle school science teacher, those are improvements that really sold me on the power that digital platforms and feedback can play in my classroom.
Are all digital platforms equally effective? Not quite. With middle school students, anonymity is important.
Does that mean that Flipgrid shouldn't be used? Round 2...
In my second round of research, I wanted to expand my understanding of the feedback process itself. I knew from my original research that students benefited from being able to view other students work, and the opportunity to get multiple people to view their work before re-submitting it. And of course anonymity was important to middle school kids. But what was the effect that being the reviewer had on the process? While Flipgrid wasn't effective due to student concerns about not being anonymous, it was helpful when they explained how the feedback process helped them. They were then asked the following questions: