Monday, June 13, 2011

Postgraduate Proposal - Assessing the Impact of 1-to-1 Laptops on Student Performance

After worrying that Twitter might be distracting me from my studies I had an epiphany following a conversation with Doug Belshaw, rather than view Twitter as a distraction, use it instead to connect my PLN with my studies via this blog. Thus potentially I will gain much needed constructive criticism, critical friends and encouragement along the tough road of postgraduate study. (Thanks Doug!)

As an initial post on my studies the original proposal from May 2010 is included. I enrolled in July 2010 i.e. Semester 2. The timeline however has been updated and is accurate as of June 2011. Please read the proposal below (5 pages) plus further comments at the bottom of this blog post. (For some reason this has a weird font on the iPad...)
Postgraduate Proposal for Simon Crook - A Research Study to Assess the Impact of 1-to-1 laptops on Student Performance
As with any study it has evolved and changed from the original proposal. Important points to note are:
  1. ostensibly I am a MSc student, however, the scope of this research is easily PhD. The understanding is that once I have made an initial publication (hopefully by the end of the year) it will roll over into a full PhD
  2. Research Question 3 may well be dropped
  3. Research Question 4 has already been dropped, it would be a PhD in it's own right.
  4. This study will focus specifically on 1-to-1 laptops rather than scrutinising the DER as I do not want to get into a political debate and analysis
  5. 2009 SC and 2011 HSC are important epochs as in each instance, for the surveyed schools, we essentially have 50/50 have/have-nots regarding 1-to-1 laptops
  6. Even though the title refers to examining student performance in Science the initial two 'crude' analyses will be for all School Certificate courses: Science, English, Mathematics, History, Geography and Computer Skills
  7. The 2009 SC data is historical data from prior to the commencement of my studies
  8. The student and teacher survey data will be used to measure student and teacher efficacies to use as variables in the 'richer' analyses.
  9. To whet your appetite for future posts, the 'crude' analyses of the 2009 and 2010 data each have over 27,000 records: over 4,500 students in 6 subjects. This is big potatoes!
For those of you that have had the time and inclination to read all of this I would appreciate any feedback you may have to offer. Thanks for the help!!! I will endeavour to add further posts outlining my initial analysis methods and findings in due course.




  1. Simon,

    You have referred to some JTLA papers (a great journal). I would strongly urge to you read, if you haven't already, the article:

    "The End of Techno-Critique: The Naked Truth about 1:1 Laptop Initiatives and Educational Change"

    It provides a well considered perspective that is unfortunately missing from most of the discussion on 1:1. Its conclusions (and it is an opinion piece, based on their analysis of the data and the arguments) are uncomfortable for all parties in both the pro- and anti- 1:1 camps but I would suggest need serious consideration. I leave you to draw your own conclusions.

    I would strongly recommend taking a mixed method approach. In my own research, I discovered many things by doing interviews which my attempts at quant analysis would not have revealed.

    Subject matters - a lot. I think you are absolutely right to focus on one subject. What happens in science classes with 1:1 will be totally different with other subjects. I think it's important you identify what the specific science education issues relating to 1:1 are. In mathematics, I found several unique factors which make a major difference.

    You will also discover huge variation in adoption - just because students received the laptops doesn't mean they were used. Looking at aggregate data will hide the variation in usage patterns - which is why the qualitative lens is helpful. So look out for this variation within the science classes that had laptops - else you risk just averaging out the effects.

    Now of course you may just wish to try to find (or disprove) an overall correlation between 1:1 and science scores. But what would a low (or negative) correlation mean? And would a positive correlation indicate causation?

    If you are going to strictly keep with a statistical analysis, I recommend you look for clusters within the data - you will find some teachers getting very different results - and then you have to try to work out : was it the laptops - or what is just them? Maybe if you identify these exceptions or clusters, go visit them and find out what they are doing.

  2. A few other comments:

    * I found some big differences between what teachers said in surveys compared to what they said in interviews!

    * IMHO, it has taken nearly 3 years for even a small impact to happen in teaching practices - at least in mathematics. It has taken 3 years for rollout and professional development programs to ramp up. Arguably the 1:1 technology itself has only become fully functional with the 2011 T3/S3 release. Only now is there a sense of movement happening in terms of training and momentum to use *some* of the facilities on the laptops. This ship changes direction extremely slowly - which is the crux of the "Naked Truth" article. It is of course possible adoption rates may be faster in science.

  3. Thanks for respond so promptly. Yes I do have The Naked Truth about 1:1, it is also up there at the top of my 255 articles. I am being encourages to conduct interviews next year though no firm plans or timeline as yet. Science was always going to be the focus, I'll be honest Ithought I would have a stab at all 6 subjects to begin with since they provide such a large data set. Will not spend too much time on this. I absolutely agree with with what you say about adoption, I witness and work with this daily in my day job. Causation was probably too strong a word in the proposal, will work on correlation meaning should any be found. Already thinking about clusters and know in a few cases is down to fantastic Coordintors. The time factor is an issue, sounds like a post-doc :-)

    When does your work come out, very keen to have a sticky beak!

  4. Can I blame the spelling mistakes on the iPad....?

  5. All the best with this, Simon - and glad you're taking this path. I'm not so sure how helpful I can be with specifics (I purposely didn't go down the empirical path with my Ed.D.) but you have my full support otherwise! :-)

  6. Thanks Doug, the moral support is always appreciated!

  7. Hi Simon,

    I came across this article recently, and it may be of some relevance for you:


  8. Thanks Andrew! Sorry for the delay, been OS.