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RESEARCH FRAMEWORK AND DIMENSIONS FOR EVALUATING THE EFFECTI

时间:2010-06-07 14:29来源:知行网www.youyuan-chem.com 编辑:麦田守望者

[Abstract]What is the most appropriate technology to use? In what educational context is a particular technology most effective? How effective is the chosen technology? The answers to these questions and others are critical in establishing the value added to the student's learning and achievement with the use of educational technology. However, these questions are rarely addressed. And, if they are, the results are often unclear, because of the lack of a clear evaluation framework. In this article, we will present and briefly describe a general framework for evaluating the effectiveness of educational technology in enhancing student learning and achievement. (Keywords: educational technology, effectiveness, evaluation, instructional systems, learning outcomes.)

During the last decade, the use of computer-based technology in education has dramatically increased. Higher education has spent some $20 billion in the 15 years through 1995. In 1994, $2.4 billion was spent on educational technology in kindergarten through 12th grade and $6.0 billion in higher education. Computer sales have risen by 25% in each of the past two years up through 1996, placing 50 million new computers into American homes and offices. More than 90,000 miles of fiber are already in place in the United States, and fiber deployment spreads at a pace of 1,300 miles per day (Katz, Tate, & Weimer, 1995).

Given that educational technologies are currently receiving significant attention, questions are now being raised regarding the research and assessment results that support the adoption and inclusion of technology in all levels of the educational system, particularly because the investments have been and remain so high.

Today, many objective observers on this issue are beginning to realize that the research supporting the massive adoption of technology simply does not exist to the extent that these widespread trends are justifiable. Katz et al. (1995) claim that, in spite of significant increases in per-student expenditures, the use of technology in education has had little effect on productivity (especially when compared to similar sectors such as health care). A more recent editorial suggests that:

With all the studies and documentation available, research on why and how the use of technology is effective in education remains minimal ... challenges remain for accurate and meaningful research to ensure the proper use of technology in education (Charp, 1998, p. 6).

McKenzie (1995) has indicated that there may be any number of hypotheses and rationales explaining why valid assessments of technology application and massive expenditures have not been sufficiently evaluated, including inability of program participants to conduct appropriate studies, vested interests in protecting new programs, little respect for educational research by the educational community, and unwillingness to set program goals, which are required by valid research.

A recent empirical study performed by Jones and Paolucci (1997) estimates that since 1993, less than 5% of published research was sufficiently empirical, quantitative, and valid to support conclusions with respect to the effectiveness of technology in educational learning outcomes. They argued that claims for the influence of technology, although substantial, were largely unfounded, and serious consequences may result if acceptance of technology in educational delivery continues without considering the appropriate application. They questioned the untested educational quality resulting from relatively unproven paradigms involving technology and the questionable cost benefit associated with this continuance. In addition to the fact that very few empirical educational technology evaluation studies have been performed, those that are available often provide unclear conclusions and lack generalization possibilities because a clearly defined research model or flamework is often missing (Jones & Paolucci).

We suggest here that the approach to evaluating educational technology should consider variables that are common to recognized pedagogical models. Furthermore, we suggest that there must be a research framework into which specific studies can be placed and from which practitioners can draw unified, high-level conclusions regarding the appropriate application of technology to various domains and teaching and learning requirements. This matrix, by its nature would allow the identification of relevant technologies to be applied to appropriate content. In this article, we suggest such a framework. We identify a matrix of factors to allow researchers to identify and target specific work and ultimately contribute to more comprehensive results.

 

RESEARCH FRAMEWORK AND DIMENSIONS

What is the most appropriate technology to use? In what educational context is a particular technology most effective? How effective is the chosen technology? The answers to these questions and others are critical in establishing the value added to the student's learning and achievement with the use of educational technology. However, with too many evaluation research studies, these questions are rarely addressed. And, if they are, the results are often unclear, because of the lack of a clear evaluation framework. In this section, we will present and briefly describe a general framework for evaluating the effectiveness of educational technology in enhancing student learning and achievement.

Before progressing to the presentation and discussion of the research framework, it is worthwhile to clarify certain terms and criteria that are central to our theme. It is important to remember that we are dealing here with the issue of educational technology--that is, the use of technology to enhance the teaching and learning process. This should be distinguished from the term technology education, which involves teaching the use of technology. Technology education focuses on the learning and instruction of technology, while educational technology involves the use and application of technology-based tools in the educational process. We focus only on the latter, because it from this perspective that we, as educators, have the opportunity to most significantly add value to the teaching and learning process.

Second, we emphasize that we are concerned with educational learning outcomes. Certainly technology is integrated into the teaching component of pedagogy, but we suggest and take the approach that ultimately it is the contribution of technology to learning outcomes that should be of interest to educators and that is currently not adequately assessed. Often in discussion of the use of technology in education, the terms teaching, education, and learning are synonymous. We strive to emphasize the difference among these. When we define learning, we define it in terms of cognitive outcomes and not simply in the delivery paradigm that may be used at any particular time. It is the implicit ability (or inability) of technology to affect learning outcomes that we believe should be of utmost interest.

To address these questions, we believe that the use of an instructional system design (ISD) approach to educational technology evaluation is critical. In its most general form, an instructional system can be viewed to consist of three major components: instructional objectives (input), delivery system (process), and learning outcomes (output). Although there are many ISD models that include system evaluation as a major component (Dick & Carey, 1996; Gagne, Briggs, & Wager, 1992; Kemp, Morrison, & Ross 1994; Reiser & Dick, 1996; Seels & Glasgow, 1997, Willis, 1995), with some even providing guidelines for selecting media and delivery systems (Kemp et al.), none of them adequately addresses the complexities and dimensions of the technology and how these may relate to learning outcomes. In response to this shortcoming, this study will focus on the dimensions of the delivery system and technology. It will present a general framework that it is hoped will guide researchers in establishing a clearer relationship among instructional objectives, the choice of technology-based delivery system, and learning outcomes. These components and their relationships are detailed in the following sections.

Instructional Objectives

Learning is achieved when a permanent change in thinking, attitude, or behavior occurs. Thus, the overarching objective of any instructional system should be to facilitate this process. (It should be noted, however, that although instructional systems are intended to provide an environment for facilitating learning, learning is an internal process that can be done only by the student.) For many formal learning situations, an instructional system does not happen by serendipity. It requires significant planning, design, and a sophisticated decision-making process. This process begins by clearly identifying a set of instructional objectives and goals. All instructional objectives can and should be based on one or more of the following factors: learning domain, learner profile, task characteristics, and grouping. Descriptions of these dimensions follow.

Learning Domain

The instructional objectives should correspond to one or more learning domains. There are three basic domains of learning: cognitive, affective, and psychomotor. Taxonomies have been widely used to define learning within each of these domains. The most popular ones are by Bloom (1956) for the cognitive domain; Krathwohl, Bloom, and Masia (1964) for the affective domain; and Harrow (1972) for the psychomotor domain. Although in practice it is very difficult to separate these, it is often possible to clearly emphasize one over the others.

 

Learner Profile

The instructional objectives should be appropriate for the learner's level of ability. Many learners may need prerequisite skills and knowledge for success with any delivery system. Key information about the learner can be used to develop a profile. It is recommended that, as a minimum, such a profile include information on cognitive style, aptitude and ability, relevant experience, educational level, level of achievement with subject domain, motivation, attitude, age, and gender (Seels & Glasgow, 1998).

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