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STEM Professional Volunteers in K-12 Competition Programs: Educator Practices and Impact on Pedagogy

Description: This mixed methods dissertation study explored how secondary school educators in specific K-12 competition programs recruited and deployed STEM professional volunteers. The study explored which practices were viewed as most important, and how practices related to constructivist pedagogy, all from the viewpoint of educators. The non-positivist approach sought new knowledge without pursuing generalized results. Review of the literature uncovered extensive anecdotal information about current practices, and suggested that large investments are made in engaging volunteers. One National Science Foundation-sponsored study was identified, and its recommendations for a sustained research agenda were advanced. Three study phases were performed, one to explore practices and operationalize definitions, a second to rate practice's importance and their relation to pedagogy, and a third to seek explanations. Educators preferred recruiting local, meaning recruiting parents and former students, versus from industry or other employers. Most educators preferred volunteers with mentoring skills, and placing them in direct contact with students, versus deploying volunteers to help with behind-the-scenes tasks supporting the educator. Relationships were identified between the highest-rated practices and constructivism in programs. In STEM professional volunteers, educators see affordances, in the same way a classroom tool opens affordances. A model is proposed which shows educators considering practicality, pedagogy, knowledge and skills, and rapport when accessing the affordances opened by STEM professional volunteers. Benefits are maximized when programs align with strong industry clusters in the community.
Date: December 2016
Creator: Zintgraff, Alfred Clifton
Partner: UNT Libraries

Cross-Cultural Validation of the Will, Skill, Tool Model of Technology Integration

Description: The teacher professional development component of the will, skill, tool model of technology integration was tested for predictive validity in the cross-cultural context of data from Texas, USA, and data from Mexico City, Mexico. Structural equation modeling (SEM) analysis, path analysis, and multiple regression analysis, were statistical procedures employed. The analyses yielded positive results for the model's validity and reliability. The resulting model was found to be a reliable tool to evaluate technology integration among elementary and middle school teachers in Texas and in Mexico City. For the purposes of this study, the teacher professional development component of the will, skill, tool model of technology integration is referred to as the will, skill, tool model of technology integration (WiSTTI). This was one of the seven alternative models tested for goodness of fit across a total of 7 data samples. The structural equation modeling approach proved to be a good technique to find the best fit model in a cross-cultural environment. Latent variables and a set of parameters to judge the validity and reliability of each model were set for testing and retesting in an iterative process. Eventually a "new" modified version of the WiSSTI model was found to fit the data for all samples studied from both countries. From a theoretical perspective, the variation of the WiSTTI model found to be the best fit to the data indicates that increased teacher willingness to integrate technology brings about increased skill, and increased skill leads to more advanced technology integration, if access to technology is available for instruction. Results derived from the model with respect to the evaluation of technology integration for teachers from Texas and Mexico City suggest a differential effect by country, with the Texas teachers (representing USA) currently more advanced in technology integration than their colleagues from Mexico. No ...
Date: May 2006
Creator: Morales Velázquez, Cesáreo
Partner: UNT Libraries

Effects of Problem-based Learning on a Fifth Grade Language Arts Classroom

Description: The main purpose of this qualitative research was to discover the effects of problem-based learning on a fifth grade language arts classroom. The secondary purpose was to examine how receptive fifth grade students were to a new way of learning. In this descriptive study, a group of nine students created an alternate reality game as part of a problem-based learning module. The instructional design of the study included three weeks for students to design and construct their games and one week to play, receive feedback and revise based on feedback. Through reflective blogs, semi-structured interviews, video recordings, and observations, data was collected to analyze. Over a period of five months, the data was coded and arranged into categories. The categories merged into themes. The results and findings revealed the impact collaborative groups have on design and enjoyment. Self-regulation skills were found to be lacking in most of the students, intrinsic motivation increased for some students while others developed positive outcomes beyond the scope of this study.
Date: May 2013
Creator: Blackwell, Deborah
Partner: UNT Libraries

A Mixed-methods Study Investigating the Relationship Between Media Multitasking Orientation and Grade Point Average

Description: The intent of this study was to examine the relationship between media multitasking orientation and grade point average. The study utilized a mixed-methods approach to investigate the research questions. In the quantitative section of the study, the primary method of statistical analyses was multiple regression. The independent variables for the study were media multitasking orientation, gender, age, and income. The dependent variable for the study was grade point average. Three out of four independent variables, namely, media multitasking orientation, gender and age were statistically significant predictors of grade point average. In the qualitative section of the study, seven participants were interviewed to determine how individual differences in media multitasking orientation manifest themselves in academic settings.
Date: August 2012
Creator: Lee, Jennifer
Partner: UNT Libraries

Teacher Perception of Project-Based Learning in a Technology-infused Secondary School Culture: a Critical Ciné-ethnographic Study

Description: Project-based learning has long been used in the educational realm as it emphasis a student-centered strategy which promotes meaning, enriched learning that enhances inquiry and problem-solving skills in a rich, authentic environment. The relevance and authentic design of projects may further be enhanced by the use of technology in the classroom. Technology is rapidly changing the face of American education in ways that were barely thinkable as little as five years before and provides the possibility for student to collaborate and complete complex project-based tasks with further level of authenticity which connects to the students preferred method of learning and productivity outside the classroom. At New Tech high school in Coppell, Texas, the entire curriculum is based around this project-based learning in a technology-infused classroom. This qualitative, case-based study is designed to explore and examine the teachers' perceptions of the use of project-based learning, technology in this non-traditional environment. The study also investigates the teacher perceptions of students' response to project-based learning and the technology available to them in their project-based tasks. Finally the study discusses the finding and their possible implications for traditional educational environments.
Date: December 2012
Creator: Gratch, Jonathan
Partner: UNT Libraries

Understanding 3-D Spaces Through Game-based Learning: a Case Study of Knowledge Acquisition Through Problem-based Learning in Minecraft

Description: The primary purpose in this case study was to explore the use of three-dimensional virtual spaces via the use of the game Minecraft as a teaching tool. The case study examined the effectiveness, self-efficacy, and social interaction of students when using such a tool in the teaching and learning process. The research analyzed knowledge acquisition through various deliverables such as benchmark pre and post exams, student discourse, and tangible objects created from the lessons by the students. Students were enrolled and participated in a summer camp offered from Arts and Technology Institute in North Texas. The camp utilized Minecraft to teach architecture types. Students learned about pyramids (Egyptian and Aztec), Roman/Greek architecture, Gothic architecture, and Post-Modern Architecture. Each day students were exposed to a different them of architecture and were tasked with building a world that was in the theme of an assigned type of architecture. Fifty-nine school age students ranging in ages from eight to twelve years old participated fully in the study. The students were not grouped by age, but instead self-selected partners with which to work during the course of their creations. Results show that students who participated in the Minecraft driven course were highly engaged and reported a positive experience during the course of learning. Participants worked cohesively to achieve common goals and problem solve during the course of project completion. Participants freely participated in discourse that was on the topic of the lesson, as well as, offered suggestions for improvement and solicited ideas from other participants. Pre and posttest results yielded an improvement in knowledge acquisition regarding general knowledge of architecture types. Many students frequently used the word “Fun” to describe their learning experience as cited in their daily blog entries. The research strived to show that using Minecraft as a teaching tool can create ...
Date: August 2015
Creator: Roberts-Woychesin, Jami
Partner: UNT Libraries

Using Diffusion of Innovations to Explore Digital Gaming in Undergraduate Library Instruction

Description: Digital games and simulations are receiving considerable notice within the Library and Information Science (LIS) community. This study adds to the depth of knowledge in this area by providing research on the likelihood a hypothetical digital game delivery method for library instruction achieves sufficient adoption to justify its development. Furthermore, this knowledge will assist decision making processes for individuals debating the current or potential role of digital gaming at their institutions. In this mixed methods study, over 300 undergraduates were surveyed about their technology preferences, including digital gaming, for delivery of two forms of academic library instruction. The two forms of library instruction were (a) providing users with spatial information on physical library layout, and (b) educating users on information literacy topics and skills. Observational data was collected during the survey sessions, occurring at face-to-face library instruction sessions. Self-selected survey participants were also interviewed to further probe their survey responses. Rogers' Diffusion of Innovations was the theoretical foundation to this research. The primary innovation of study was the digital game delivery method. Detailed analysis of the survey-based data set included three nonparametric scaling methods: 1) rank-sum scaling; 2) circular triad analysis; and 3) multidimensional preference mapping. Content analysis of the observations and semi-structured interviews also occurred. Major outcomes were 1) the digital game delivery method achieved mediocre preference across both questions; 2) the audiovisual delivery method received the highest overall preference ranking; and 3) overall preference for the audio-only delivery method was remarkably low. The most important theme across the observational data was the participants' waning attention during the face-to-face library instruction sessions. The most important outcome from the semi-structured interviews was interviewees' stated appreciation for useful technologies. Over 95% of participants were so-called digital natives, that is, born post-1980. Rogers' assertion that age plays a minor role in predicting ...
Date: August 2009
Creator: Robertson, Michael James
Partner: UNT Libraries

Stratified item selection and exposure control in unidimensional adaptive testing in the presence of two-dimensional data.

Description: It is not uncommon to use unidimensional item response theory (IRT) models to estimate ability in multidimensional data. Therefore it is important to understand the implications of summarizing multiple dimensions of ability into a single parameter estimate, especially if effects are confounded when applied to computerized adaptive testing (CAT). Previous studies have investigated the effects of different IRT models and ability estimators by manipulating the relationships between item and person parameters. However, in all cases, the maximum information criterion was used as the item selection method. Because maximum information is heavily influenced by the item discrimination parameter, investigating a-stratified item selection methods is tenable. The current Monte Carlo study compared maximum information, a-stratification, and a-stratification with b blocking item selection methods, alone, as well as in combination with the Sympson-Hetter exposure control strategy. The six testing conditions were conditioned on three levels of interdimensional item difficulty correlations and four levels of interdimensional examinee ability correlations. Measures of fidelity, estimation bias, error, and item usage were used to evaluate the effectiveness of the methods. Results showed either stratified item selection strategy is warranted if the goal is to obtain precise estimates of ability when using unidimensional CAT in the presence of two-dimensional data. If the goal also includes limiting bias of the estimate, Sympson-Hetter exposure control should be included. Results also confirmed that Sympson-Hetter is effective in optimizing item pool usage. Given these results, existing unidimensional CAT implementations might consider employing a stratified item selection routine plus Sympson-Hetter exposure control, rather than recalibrate the item pool under a multidimensional model.
Date: August 2009
Creator: Kalinowski, Kevin E.
Partner: UNT Libraries

Students' Attitudes Towards Rapport-building Traits and Practices in Online Learning Environments

Description: This research was a triangulated study of student attitudes towards instructors' rapport-building traits and their preferences amongst instructors' rapport-building practices in online learning environments. Participants were undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in courses within an educational technology program at a central Texas university. The study employed a mixed-methods approach involving the Likert-item assessment of learners' attitudes, the identification and prioritization of learner preferences through pairwise comparisons, and semi-structured interviews that provided richer, more detailed information. Findings indicated a strong preference for instructor-based traits and practices over pedagogically-based ones. These traits and practices loaded into the components of social presence, enjoyable interaction, and personal connection.
Date: December 2012
Creator: Wright, Robert Demmon
Partner: UNT Libraries

Analyzing Visitors’ Discourse, Attitudes, Perceptions, and Knowledge Acquisition in an Art Museum Tour After Using a 3D Virtual Environment

Description: The main purpose of this mixed methods research was to explore and analyze visitors’ overall experience while they attended a museum exhibition, and examine how this experience was affected by previously using a virtual 3dimensional representation of the museum itself. The research measured knowledge acquisition in a virtual museum, and compared this knowledge acquired between a virtual museum versus a real one, employing a series of questionnaires, unobtrusive observations, surveys, personal and group interviews related to the exhibition and the artist. A group of twenty-seven undergraduate students in their first semester at the College of Architecture and Design of the Autonomous University of the State of Mexico participated in the research, and were divided in two groups, one of which used a 3D virtual representation previous to the museum visit. Results show that participants who experienced the virtual museum concurred that using it was a positive experience that prepared them to go to the real museum because they knew already what they were going to find. Most of the participants who experienced the virtual museum exhibited an increased activity during their museum visit, either agreeing, being more participative, concurring and showing acceptance, asking questions, or even giving their opinion and analysis, disagreeing with the guide and showing passive rejection. Also participants from this group showed an increase on their correct answers to the knowledge acquisition questionnaires, going from 27% answers responded correctly in the pre-test, to 67% of correct answers after the virtual museum usage. The research attempted to show that experiencing a virtual museum can be similar to the experience in physical museum visits, not only engaging participants to go to the museum, but sometimes even offering a more functional way to deliver content. Results of this research evidence that using a virtual museum creates a positive impact in ...
Date: May 2012
Creator: D’ Alba, Adriana
Partner: UNT Libraries