In this post I’d like to briefly elaborate on how I’ll evaluate the successfulness of my implementation of tablets for every student. (Read the outline of my plan here and the details here.) There are a few simple ways to measure the effectiveness of the devices. The first, and simplest, will be looking at student’s grades on a year to year basis. For instance, were the averages of my calculus classes worse or better in the year that I implemented tablets compared to previous years? I can also look at how specific students did in my class compared to their previous math classes. But beyond that, to really drive at my original goal (helping students consistently reach a deep level of understanding in mathematics), I’ll have to look beyond their grades.
The first method I’ll use will be their blogs. I’ve had students blog for three years, with some of the prompts being reused. I will be able to look back and compare blog posts on specific prompts. Students’ writing is one of the best places to understand how deeply they understand a concept. I also will gather students’ perceptions of how they felt the tablets helped them understand math. They will have several years of experience in learning math more traditionally to compare my class to. In addition to surveying students during my class, I will follow up with students after they leave high school. One of the problems I identified was that many students struggle in mathematics beyond high school. I will survey students about their success in college level math and ask them how they felt my integration of technology contributed or detracted from that success (or lack of success).
I think it’s also valuable to videotape my classroom on a somewhat frequent basis to both evaluate my teaching and my students’ learning. The first thing I’ll be looking for is growth in a number of areas. How are my students improving in the quality of their discourse around mathematics in my class? How frequently are students using graphing utilities on the tablets without being prompted to use them by me? How is my instruction evolving based on the increased formative data I’m getting? The process of videotaping will require reflection on the tablets’ effectiveness and I think this is best done through writing. I will blog on the success and failures of their implementation and adjust accordingly my teaching accordingly.
I think the advantage to implementing tablets is that they are such powerful, dynamic tools. This is advantageous because if I have an idea that doesn’t go well (maybe having students make video lessons for example) there are countless more ways to use them, so I can dump that activity and use them in different ways. With the combination of hard data (grades) and more subjective data (like blogs and surveys) I will be able to decide if the technology is effective or not and make adjustments accordingly.