AR Focus Statement
The problem is the current state of knowledge assessment encourages students to study for the test and then discard the information as soon as the test is over. My proposed solution is to increase retention through reflection.
Once the students have completed the 20-slide Keynote presentation using relevant media examples, will they retain the information more effectively so that they can improve on their original test score?
The target audience for Cycle 1 was made up of 22 college-aged students, 21 male and 1 female. The range of age was from 18 to 24. A mix of ethnicities was represented as well: 7 African-American, 8 Caucasian, 6 Hispanic and 1 person from India.
Summary of Cycle 1
Cycle 1 began after students completed their midterm exam. The first thing they were required to do is come to the office the next day to see what they missed on the Midterm. Although 60 students made an appointment to see me, only 26 came to see what they missed. There were a series of questionnaires that were sent to them from freeonlinesurveys.com. The first questionnaire they filled out was a Learning questionnaire that was designed to interpret whether their motivation to take part in the cycle was intrinsic or extrinsic. There were also questions about age, hometown and ethnicity, which helped me gather demographic information. The second questionnaire they filled out was a pre-questionnaire that showed how comfortable each student felt about the material they were tested on.
After the 2nd questionnaire, they completed a project that involved doing research about the subject they struggled with the most on their test. They compiled 18 media examples into a Keynote document with a brief explanation of each. They could use any asset they found on the internet, provided they properly cite the source. The project had to include a title slide as well as a conclusion that could be written or recorded. The conclusion was intended as a reflection tool to help them compare their present comprehension to their competency before the project. Once the project was turned in, they had to retake the section of the midterm they struggled the most with. Lastly, the post survey was sent to them, which included the exact same questions as the pre survey they completed at the beginning of the cycle.
The type of data that was collected included both quantitative and qualitative information that determined how comfortable they felt about the material, how important they believed the material was to their career, how hard they studied for the midterm and whether they thought the materials they had to study were adequate. These came in the form of questionnaires, surveys and test scores.
The pre/post survey provided valuable data about how the students felt about the material they were tested on. Out of the 16 students that completed the 1st Cycle, I discovered that before the cycle started, 55% of the students felt uncomfortable with the material, 32% felt somewhat comfortable and 13% that felt good about the material. This seemed to stem from the fact that before they took the midterm for the first time, 100% of the students thought they had not studied hard enough for it. After they had completed the cycle, 100% of them stated that they felt more comfortable with the material, although 71% still believed they needed more studying. One cause for their discomfort could be ruled out and that related to the study materials they were given. This is because 100% of the students surveyed believed that the study guides they received initially were sufficient.
The learning questionnaire was sent out after the pre survey and provided quantitative data to help determine whether the motivation the students had to complete the cycle were autonomous or controlled. Students that were autonomously motivated took part in the cycle because they found the material interesting, personally satisfying and important. Students that had controlled motivation completed the cycle because of external pressures and rewards. Each question had either an autonomous or controlled bias. The scale of each answer was either 1, 4 or 7, 1 being Don’t Agree, 4 being Somewhat Agree and 7 being Agree. The students showed their motivation to be intrinsic by agreeing with all of the autonomous questions. Of the 7 controlled questions, 43% were answered with Don’t Agree, 43% were Somewhat Agree and 14% were Agree.
The test scores were evaluated after they retook their Midterm section and 64% of the students had their grade go up, although only 2 or 3 of them improved their grade significantly. Fourteen percent of the student’s grade stayed the same and 22% of them had their grade go down.
One month after the cycle ended, I sent out a separate questionnaire to all of the students to gauge their reaction to the cycle process. There were 8 question under the topics of “The Midterm”, “The Cycle” and “The Project”. Every question on this additional questionnaire related to whether they would change any aspect of the cycle. I wanted to get a better sense of how the surveys, project and test results related to the inquiry question. I received 3 total responses from students that all improved their scores upon retaking the Midterm. I would have liked to have received responses from a few that did not but it did give me some valuable feedback from people that did well. Every answer they gave told me that they found every task to be the right amount of difficulty and led to the perfect amount of knowledge retention. This shows that the process I set up worked very well for these students.
The data that was collected seems to answer the Inquiry Question sufficiently. The question was “Once the students have completed the 20-slide Keynote presentation using relevant media examples, will they retain the information more effectively so that they can improve on their original test score?”. The data report states that 64% of the students that participated in Cycle 1 saw their grade increase after they completed the Keynote presentation and re-took the midterm. Based upon student feedback, I believe that I can improve upon this percentage by re-wording the questions on the Midterm so that they are more straightforward.
I was pleasantly surprised at how positively the students reacted to the challenge. They had a lot of work added to their already busy schedule. Many of the participants wrote glowing responses in their project conclusions and post survey. I was happy that they did not perceive the cycle to be a waste of time. One student stated that the project was “comprehensive” and the he “definitely understood the concepts a lot better when going back to them.” I was told that the test questions on the Midterm weren’t too hard, the cycle length of one week was just enough time and the surveys were not distracting at all.
The results of the Midterm retake was one of the most surprising thing that happened during the cycle. Test scores were not as high the second time as expected, with some scores staying the same and quite a few going down. I was a bit surprised that so many of them finished all of the surveys, the questionnaire, the project and the midterm retake all within the space of a week, although this may have been a factor in the mediocre results of some of the students.
This cycle was relevant to the goal of my Action Plan, although certain improvements need to be made going forward. I will keep the cycle plan exactly the same for cycle 2 to make sure that the results were not an anomaly on the student’s part. I plan to send out a follow-up survey to the participants to try to determine what changes could be made to make the process more beneficial to fellow students. I will try to receive answers to the follow-up survey from a broader population in Cycle two to encompass students that did not improve as well as the students that did. Hopefully the responses I get will help me narrow down the improvements that need to be made.