In the article Preparing children for success: integrating science, math and technology in early childhood classroom by Hengemah Kermani and Jale Aldemir, the focus aimed to discover whether applying “purposeful math, science and technology curriculum projects and activities would support Pre-K children’s performance in these subject matter areas” (Kermani & Aldemir., 2015). It is also important to note that the participants were early childhood learners with majority deriving from low-income families. Research “shows that children from low-income families, on average, demonstrate lower levels of competence in math prior to entering school, and these gaps persist or widen as schooling continues” (Kermani & Aldemir 2015, p. 1505). This article demonstrates the idea that if students are given specific language and knowledge in these subject areas at an early age than they would become more proficient in the subjects themselves. Their proficiency would allow them to become stronger problem solvers. In order to measure this, the study involved four classrooms where both teachers and students voluntarily participated. Of these classrooms, two were randomly chosen to receive the specific science, math, and technology intervention. Instead of being afraid of the overuse of technology the study demonstrated how “computer technology and software can aid young children’s inquiry-based learning by proving age-appropriate everyday problem situations” (Kermani & Aldemir., 2015, p. 1505). I continually use technology within my classroom in order to increase the access to these types of situations. Technology does not have to be something we fear but instead we can allow it to aid us in life skills and bridge vast knowledge that teachers cannot always comprehend themselves. Furthermore, the study states that “[t]eachers’ lack of professional knowledge and self-confidence in teaching math and science as well as integrating technology has also been found to be a contributing factor for the increasing achievement gap” (Kermani & Aldemir., 2015, p. 1506). This idea of lack of professional knowledge is one that is prominent in elementary school teachers due to the fact that they are expert generalists. However, in being a generalist we end up knowing lots of little facts about many things as opposed to being able to dive deep into a subject such as water pollution in science. When diving deeper into a subject we use technology to aid the knowledge gap, this should be no different for students as they should be taught those skills.
The research methods used are mixed-methods as it uses “both quantitative and qualitative means of data collection and analysis” (Kermani & Aldemir., 2015, p. 1514). The reason for this was because the researchers wanted both statistical data to determine the increased confidence in the teachers to teach the subjects, as well as the increased knowledge base of the students in these specific subject areas. Both standardized tests and interviews were used to determine students increased knowledge and it was determined that students displayed an increased ability to comprehend and explain their understanding of these various concept in the treatment group.
If this study was conducted using only quantitative research, I believe the results would have been lessened as the study heavily relied on recorded video sessions to determine students understanding. Had the researchers simply just looked at the test results of some of the standardized tests then they would have missed the conversations and revelations students had within the classroom discussion. Furthermore, math has a standardized test provided to teachers, whereas science does not and therefore the tests are subjective towards what the teacher believes the students should know or have learned. Given that two different types of tests were given to the subject groups, the quantitative data collected would need to be categorized in different ways. In the article Assessing the Quality of Mixed Methods Research: Towards a Comprehensive Framework by Alicia O’Cathain she states that when using mixed-methods that “inferences are drawn from the whole mixed methods study—met-inferences—not simply from each component (O’Cathain. ,2015, p. 6) Therefore, if this study were to only use quantitative data then they would simply miss much of the big picture.
In using a different research method as well, the research would be drastically impacted as they would be unable to illustrate not only the students increased learning, but the confidence level of teachers as well. Teachers not only used a survey to explain their increased confidence in their ability to teach these concepts but video recordings allowed for the assessment of the quality of their teaching. Children were given tasks such as project based learning and child-centered activities and their success in these activities cannot be simply defined by only quantitative methods.
If the research were conducted in a quantitative method only the impact on the reader would be less as well. This study clearly outlines the varying positive impacts that technological, scientific and mathematical intervention had on both the students and teachers. Without the mention of video recordings, one to one collaboration meetings and encouragement of paired student work the data would simply reflect the increased learning but not the method in which it was achieved. Without the combination of both quantitative and qualitative research the study would only provide the statistics or observations versus the strong impact that early intervention can have in student development. Also, what is being researched would be impacted negatively as well seeing as the video recordings allowed for the researchers to conclude that the teachers “were better able to engage children with questions to explore a topic, to plan more meaningful lessons to investigate a topic with hands-on and open-ended learning opportunities, and to assistance children in discovering patterns and relationships including compare and contrast” (Kermani & Aldemir., 2015, p. 1520). Without the qualitative data of video recordings and observations what was being researched, would have been limited to the surveys of teachers confidence levels and students understanding, but would lack the specific teacher-student interaction that was found.
This article was extremely interesting to me as I have grown up in a generation that has grappled with the use of technologies in school. I am from the a generation of new teachers and often we are faced with the struggle of keeping up with technological advances, but were never explicitly taught how to use technology when we were in elementary school. This study has given me the insight that technology, when used in a specific way, can be integrated successfully into the classroom. The idea that technology aids teachers in the knowledge gap is one that many teachers struggle with. In many classrooms, the teacher is seen as the knowledge holder versus the facilitator of knowledge. I view myself as a facilitator as the world is vast especially in the concepts on science, math and technology. It is unreasonable to believe that one person can provide all the answers to the questions that arise during discussions of these subjects. Therefore, this study has provided me with further validity that technology can be an appropriate tool for students and teachers.
With that being said I do wonder, how this study would further their exploration into a larger population of schools? They were only able to test four classrooms of fifty eight Pre-K students. Would the availability of resources be the same for older students? Would the findings be as positive if the study were conducted with medium to high income families? “A total of 20 software games were evaluated and those receiving high marks on three distinct features, Child, teacher, and technical features, were chosen for the use in this study. This narrowed our selection for use with children to 10 software games” (Kermani & Aldemir., 2015, p. 1509). How would the continual development of the intervention in terms of the technological math resources arise with funding and licences? I ask this question specifically because in terms of using technology for math games within the classroom, as some districts have struggled to provide adequate app access, thus diminishing the effectiveness of technology in math.
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