"Why Are We Doing This?": Using Digital Reflection to Increase Student Engagement

A frequent concern among any group of teachers is how to enhance learning by increasing student engagement, particularly in the secondary classroom. Although some argue that technology is interfering with student engagement, particularly in schools with a one-to-one device ratio and a “bring your own device” policy, the same technology that may offer individual distraction can be harnessed to address the issue of student engagement. Deliberate use of open-ended weekly reflections using Google Forms offers students an opportunity to interact with the curriculum and take ownership of their own learning. Questions such as, “What have you learned this week?” and “What haven’t you learned or are still confused by this week?” provide a virtual exit ticket, while questions such as, “Is there anything you want me to know?” offer students the opportunity to speak openly about group work, social concerns, and topics of interest to them, and the data collected offer teachers valuable insight for shaping pedagogy and deepening relationships with students. This paper will explore action research into this strategy conducted over two semesters with secondary students in a freshman English course at a Project-Based-Learning high school.

A Cross-Case Study: Comparing the Impact of Technology-Nested Strategies and Instructor Presence on Active-Learning Experiences between Virtual and Face-to-Face Modalities

Active learning and cocreation of knowledge have been extensively researched in the face-to-face environment; however, few studies have investigated the impact of active learning, cocreation of knowledge, and instructor presence on students’ perceptions of learning experiences in the virtual environment. The purpose of this study is to extend literature on the Active Learning for Knowledge Construction theoretical model. This study identifies and analyzes undergraduate students’ experiences that inform their perceptions of equivalent experiences in the virtual environment as compared to the face-to-face environment. This research study encompasses two sections of a course, one delivered face-to-face and one delivered virtually. Therefore, a cross-case study methodology was used to understand and compare students’ experiences between course sections. This study found that video instruction and use of mobile devices created equivalent learning experiences. However, exploration through technology and mobile devices was valued differently by students between modalities. Further, face-to-face students most valued student-to-student and student-to-instructor interactions, while virtual students most valued student-to-content and student-to-instructor interactions. Finally, suggestions to improve virtual course designs implementing active learning and recommendations for future research are provided.

The Creative Uses of Facebook by Undergraduate Students

Among many social networking websites, Facebook has become an effective learning tool in many institutions. Apart from educational purposes, Facebook can be employed for other purposes that benefit users who learn to use it creatively. The objectives of this research were to examine how creatively Thai university students used Facebook and investigated how gender and type of university had an effect on their usage. This was exploratory research where a questionnaire was used to collect data from 1,080 undergraduate students in Thailand. The data were then analyzed using frequency, percentage, Mann-Whitney U tests, and Kruskal-Wallis tests. It was found that most Thai students used Facebook for more than five hours a day. They creatively used Facebook to follow up on news, contact friends for study, and keep pictures. Creative usage was more common among male students than female students. In addition, public university students had a higher mean score of creative uses than those from other types of university. Significant differences were found in nearly all items except sharing personal experiences with others.