Blogging about summer reading: The learning and engagement of high school students using interactive technology
Janice Becker Place, University of Rhode Island, United States
University of Rhode Island . Awarded
The purpose of this study was to investigate what happened when grade 11 high school honors students blogged about their summer reading under the monitoring of a teacher during vacation. I proposed that an educational blog might serve as an effective tool during summer vacation to help students retain skills or learning while at a physical distance from their school and teacher.
In addition to the blog's transcripts, a pre-project survey, post-project survey, and post-project interviews provided complementary data to inform my analysis. Qualitative analysis was applied to the blog discussion entries for evidence of peer learning, scaffolding, critical thinking, and literary discussion techniques. Several particular aspects of the experience were part of the research focus: Did blogging provide the students with a worthwhile experience that would make them want to continue doing so in the future? Did blogging help to engage students in a steady reading pace so learning would continue through summer? Did blogging help students in their constructs of meaning through peer learning?
As no studies on this topic could be found, blogging about summer reading under an educator's guidance and facilitation may be rarely practiced. The study's results showed the students found the experience worthwhile enough to make them want to participate in a summer reading blog again. Although all of the students indicated they finished their books in time for school, and one student in an interview agreed the blog changed her usual summer reading pace, a limitation of the study was that there was not enough information to be certain of the blog's influence on reading pace for other participants. Also, there was no way of knowing for certain if all the participants read the entries of their classmates, limiting my analysis for determining if everyone achieved a co-construction of learning. Another limitation of this study was in my demographics of already successful students.
However, many examples of critical thinking were found in the blog discussion entries, along with several examples of peer learning, scaffolding, and the frequent application of literary discussion techniques. The implications call for a future study to examine how less successful students may respond to a summer reading blog, and to continue analyzing the merits of teachers blogging with students during summer vacation.
Place, J.B. Blogging about summer reading: The learning and engagement of high school students using interactive technology. Ph.D. thesis, University of Rhode Island.
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