DISSERTATION REVIEWS 2 Dissertation Reviews Assignment Reginald McKelvin School of Education, Liberty

DISSERTATION REVIEWS 2

Dissertation Reviews Assignment

Reginald McKelvin

School of Education, Liberty University

Author Note

Reginald McKelvin

I have no known conflict of interest to disclose.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Reginald McKelvin.

Email: rmckelvin@liberty.edu

Dissertation Reviews Assignment Instructions

Discussion: Research Topic

Summary of the Dissertation

The analyzed dissertation is titled a transcendental phenomenological study of the experiences of high school students engaged in an established 1:1 technology by Kelvin Michael Mathes. The purpose of the study was to investigate the impacts of an established 1:1 technology program or blended learning on the educational experiences of selected private high school students in the mid-Atlantic state, United States. As a result, the researcher employed a qualitative phenomenological theoretical framework to look into the deeper understanding of the lived student’s experiences. Therefore, the analyzed data was non-numerical, including student’s views and opinions. The study was triggered by three fundamental research questions revolving around high school student’s views on their experiences with an established 1:1 technology program. The first research question sought to understand how high school students in schools with implemented established 1:1 technology program perceive their educational experiences (Mathes, 2019, p. 55). The second research question investigated high school students’ views on how a 1:1 technology program is integrated into their learning environment. The third question evaluates the merits and challenges high school students encounter from learning in a 1: 1 technology program.

Fifteen high school students participated in the study, five from each of the three sampled schools implementing an established 1: 1 technology program. Students who had attended the most years in the same school were preferred over new students or those with less interaction with the school’s learning program (Mathes, 2019, p. 57). Those with the most experience with the program were suitable to provide information-rich data. Besides, both girls and boys were included in the study. Moreover, participation was voluntary, and the participants could quit or hold any information at any time in the study. The researcher also sought consent and permission from school administrations and parents for all the participants. None of the participants withdrew from the study, from start to finish.

Data was collected using three qualitative methods; interviews, focus group, and participant journals. Each participant was scheduled for a face-to-face interview with the researcher. Participants were required to answer close response questions. Each interview was audio recorded for reference and later emailed to each corresponding participant for feedback (Mathes, 2019, p. 59). Second, all fifteen participants met for a focus group, where they dialogued on their educational experiences with the 1: 1 technology program. Similarly, the dialogue was audio recorded until all relevant information regarding the subject of interest was exhausted. On the other hand, participants were required to electronically complete a daily journal on their educational experiences regarding the program through a Google or Microsoft office 365 account for not less than a week. The journals were then submitted to the researcher for data analysis. Data from the three collection methods were used to draw the findings in the present study.

Overall, the participants recorded positive education experiences with an established 1:1 technology program, compared to the traditional face-to-face classroom learning. For instance, the students mostly described the program as amazing, invaluable, helpful, positive, prepared, and beneficial when answering the first research question (Mathes, 2019, p. 131). Nonetheless, they termed their educational experiences frustrating when the WIFI or their devices were not working properly. In the same manner, participants recorded positive experiences with integrating the 1: 1 technology program in their corresponding schools, when the WIFI and devices were working properly. Overall, they reported instant access to information and resources and improved skillsets. Furthermore, they noted that both students and teachers adjust to the traditional learning model in the case of technological failure. On the third question, participants reported improved problem-solving, collaborative, research, and communication skills as the benefits of blended learning. On the flip side, unresponsive WIFI connectivity, uncharged devices, and hardware failures were reported as significant challenges.

Critical Analysis

The research was comprehensively conducted, resulting in justifiable findings. For instance, two of the sampled private schools had implemented an established 1:1 technology program for eight years, and the third one for seven years (Mathes, 2019, p. 151). Studying schools that had used the system for longer means that their students had interacted with the program enough to provide reliable information about their educational experiences. Consequently, teachers in the studied schools had been adequately trained and interacted with the program enough to give student’s reliable education experiences.

Another strength of the research is that only senior students with at least four years of study in that school were sampled. It is likely that sampling junior students with less experience with the program or students with experiences from different schools would yield different findings. Furthermore, having both boys and girls as participants possibly yield conclusive data compared to sampling one. The findings are also justified by all the fifteen students from three schools recording similar experiences. It is an indication that the study was uniformly conducted.

In my view, the research questions and the methodology are valid and capture all the relevant student’s educational experiences. For instance, views about the program from student’s overall education experience and their corresponding schools were captured. Furthermore, closed questions regarding the impacts of the established 1: 1 technology program on access, communication, skills, attitudes, and challenges were asked to each participant. On the other hand, the researcher used more than one data collection method to get as much information regarding the subject as possible from the students. Students were allowed to listen to their responses, clarify, and even add new information. Therefore, the research topic and methodology were adequately composed and reviewed.

The findings are sufficiently discussed for each respondent and in summary form, and recommendations for different stakeholders are analyzed. For instance, high schoolers are advised to enhance their typing skills and be prepared for technical failures when using the 1:1 technology program. In the same breath, school leaders need to eliminate the technical failures with the WIFI and devices. Lastly, school teachers must be flexible to integrate traditional and technology and comfortably switch to the former in the case of a technical technology failure. Further, background information for each respondent is given to understand their point of view and why they were selected. Therefore, sufficient data is given from enough participants and analyzed exhaustively.

Nonetheless, the research can be improved by reviewing instructor’s experiences with the established 1:1 technology program and including public schools in the case study. It is possible that instructors could have additional important information about the program that students did not record. Moreover, it would be more conclusive to sample both private and public schools. The researcher did not sample public schools in the study region since they were beginning to implement the program. Besides, the public schools lacked sufficient resources and asked students to bring their computers for study. It is an indication that students from private and public schools potentially would have different education experiences with the program, and therefore, the importance of sampling both. Therefore, I would include a more diverse sample than in the present study—the gaps in this study open opportunities for further and more studies regarding the 1:1 technology program.

Practical Implications

Although I knew that learning with the 1:1 technology program enhances positive academic outcomes among students, it is interesting to learn that it also prepares them for college and life after studies. Getting used to blended learning in high school prepares students for college education. For example, college students mostly rely on technological devices for research, completing assignments, making presentations, and developing thesis and dissertations. One must have significant computer skills, including fast-typing, knowledge of how to use the internet, and simple applications such as PowerPoint and Word document to succeed in college studies. Therefore, learning these skills in high school with the 1:1 technology program enhances adaptation into higher learning.

In addition, getting used to technological devices in high school prepares students for employment and the changing social life outside school. For instance, it is common for employers to consider a candidate’s computer knowledge for employment, even for non-technical jobs. Many aspects of employment today require knowing how to send and open mails, attend Zoom meetings, make PowerPoint and virtual presentations, and troubleshoot simple technical faults. Furthermore, with the COVID-19 pandemic, and the resulting curfews, lockdowns, and other containment measures, people are turning to social media platforms for interactions. For this reason, implementing the 1:1 technology program in schools is critical for students not only for higher grades but also for easier adaptation into colleges and the outside world.

From the analyzed dissertation, I have gained practical knowledge on developing coherent and conclusive research questions. For instance, the author organized the research questions from a general perspective to specific details. In this case, it is unlikely to skip important questions and data. Previously, I would develop key questions from the focus area without any order, possibly leading to omissions. Additionally, I have learned to develop a research topic from the research questions. In the present study, all the research questions in the dissertation are captured in the research topic. Previously, I would develop the title and then the research questions, leading to a mismatch between the two.

The findings have also revealed the huge disparity between public and private high schools in the United States. Whereas private high schools in mid-Atlantic state implemented the 1:1 technology seven-to-eight years ago, public high schools are in their initial stages of its implementation. Nonetheless, even the program’s effectiveness is likely to be different since students in the latter are not provided with devices such as computers. Although I knew that public schools likely lag in implementing costly programs, a gap of seven-to-eight years is a bit too long.

The findings of the analyzed dissertation will add to the literature on education experiences with the 1:1 technology program and open a room for debates and further research. For instance, many studies focus on the impact of blended learning on students’ academic performance, not their experiences or views. Moreover, the findings will likely trigger a debate on why public high schools lag in implementing 1:1 technology programs, despite being approved by the education ministry. Such a debate would lead to the allocation of more funds to public high schools and improved management. Besides, the findings trigger the question as to whether the 1:1 technology program has significant drawbacks to students or their instructors. Therefore, such questions will possibly prompt researchers to investigate the impacts of the 1:1 technology on students and instructors in different education levels.

Research Methodology Presentation Assignment

Summary of the Dissertation

The science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) curriculum is essential to the American education system. America has lost its place in science and technology expertise leading to the American legislators re-evaluating the education system. The STEM curriculum imparted skills that have been considered essential for the future global workforce. Hence, the government is interested in encouraging more students to base their career choices on the curriculum subjects. STEM was fuelled by the Soviet Union’s technology achievement in 1957 when it launched its first artificial satellite into orbit (Bentley, 2021, p. 14). Concerns rose about American education, leading to the National Defence Education Act (NDEA) in 1958. The act’s main priority was technology and science education development through appropriate funding (Bentley, 2021, p.14). The curriculum’s journey began with many legislatures, including presidents contributing to its development.

The study’s purpose was meant to establish the impact of STEM on academic achievements in specific grades. STEM has not fulfilled expectations despite the United States’ desire to maintain global leadership. Several Acts have tried to promote the curriculum, such as Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science (COMPETES) Act enacted by President Bush in 2007 (Bentley, 2021, p.14). However, reports depict that most American students either perform poorly or do not choose STEM’s career path despite the efforts. Diverse research results have highlighted the ignorance of the curriculum in elementary school math and science levels, attributing to its failure.

The dissertation’s theoretical framework has been founded on a variety of experimental analyses and beliefs. For instance, John Dewey, a hands-on learning believer, depicted that students’ understood education better through age-appropriate ventures and social interactions (Bentley, 2021, p. 24). His beliefs align with the STEM concept that encourages interactive and hands-on learning experiences. Dewey was a staunch believer in solving problems scientifically and encouraged inquiry-based learning where students were active participants in their education process. Additionally, Bandura, an educational philosopher, emphasized children learn through social interactions and self-guided learning (Bentley, 2021, p.26 ). He depicted a child could understand concepts better if the teacher was just a facilitator and the child solved a problem from their cognitive understanding. His theory coincides with the facilitative student-centered learning theory. Moreover, the social theory depicts that hand-on learning has long-term benefits, especially for under-represented groups like colour races (Bentley, 2021, p.29). The theoretical framework forms the support basis for the STEM curriculum.

A significant research question directed the study. The question compared the science and mathematics achievement scores between fifth-grade students who used the STEM curriculum versus traditional learning methods (Bentley, 2021, p.21, 55, 68). Consequently, the dissertation’s hypothesis was there was no notable score achievement difference between the two case studies (Bentley, 2021, p.56, 68). The comparative study’s test subjects were four Virginia fifth grade classes. The study used two hundred and twenty-six students, and the researchers compared their scores with the Virginia maths and sciences assessment standards (Bentley, 2021, p.3). The researchers applied the MANOVA research methodology, which compares various groups to several continuous variables. Moreover, the comparative analysis was to verify the STEM curriculum’s significance to a child. The findings were contrary to the theoretical beliefs, implying that the STEM curriculum was better than the traditional sciences and maths learning methods. The research highlighted that the conventional curriculum-based students performed better than STEM students (Bentley, 2021, p.3). Prior reports corresponded with the study findings, which highlighted that the STEM curriculum was not what it was praised.

Critical Analysis

The dissertation portrays several strengths and a few weaknesses. Overall, the content is well organized and demonstrates logical consistency; hence readers can understand how each segment connects to the next. The title is clear, accurate, and lacks ambiguity, and operational definitions are stated. Consequently, the abstract provides a complete overview of the study’s instruments, including the research problem, the sample used, methodology, primary findings, and recommendations (Bentley, 2021, p. 4). Instrumentation validity and reliability are present, and all variables are adequately described. Also, references are provided, and instructions for further research are included. However, the significant reliance on a quantitative method excludes the qualitative analysis of the participants’ perceptions and beliefs. Integrating an interview or survey regarding how teachers and students feel about STEM would have increased the study’s reliability. Additionally, providing a larger sample in two different environments could have enhanced the validity of the findings. As a whole, the article has multiple elements that influence the robustness of the research findings.

The research problem has been appropriately justified, and the authors have included a comprehensive evaluation of the research topic. The researchers have provided a substantial overview of why the study is essential, gaps in previous research, and the need for more analysis regarding STEM (Bentley, 2021, pp. 13-14 ). Moreover, the significance of this study is evident given that the research topic is an emerging area of interest in the academic platform. The research also has a detailed theoretical framework connecting all the study variables. A comprehensive overview is provided, including a literature review and theoretical analysis concerning STEM tenets.

The methodology was adequate in testing the null hypothesis and research questions, and the findings from the study were significantly detailed. Although the author should have included qualitative approaches such as interviews and questionnaires, the cause-and-effect framework is incredibly accurate. Mathematical models like the SPSS and MANOVA tests demonstrated the relationship between the dependent and independent variables testing the hypothesis (Bentley, 2021, p. 66). Moreover, the statistical analysis explains the study’s assumptions and disqualifies any outliers that would have impeded validity. The findings from each qualitative approach are discussed in-depth in the last chapter, and each part is organized to answer a particular research question. The study’s implications are explained, and areas of applicability are suggested.

There are several opportunities for further research that were not presented. For instance, a universal definition regarding STEM tenets should be identified because the gaps in STEM studies commence from the lack of a clear definition. Second, the stakeholders’ perceptions concerning integrating a STEM model in schools should be evaluated further, including teachers’, students’, and policymakers’ views. Third, further research should utilize a mixed-method approach to analyze different STEM implementation strategies across diverse schools or groups. Arguably, the primary threat to the research’s validity involves excluding participants’ beliefs and opinions regarding STEM, which a qualitative approach would have solved. Also, selection bias when selecting the school and participants for the study limits the study’s applicability.

I would have made several changes to increase the validity and reliability of current research. Foremost, I would have employed a mixed-method design including interviews and questionnaires to evaluate participants’ views. Second, I would have suggested a concise definition for STEM to align my findings with the test hypothesis. Third, using a larger sample by including more participants from different schools or locations would have fostered the findings’ applicability. Consequently, using the R-regression statistical framework would have supported the testing of a larger sample. Overall, the study portrays significant strengths and can be slightly modified to increase its validity and reliability.

Practical Implications

The study portrayed the STEM curriculum in a negative light and contradicted the beliefs of researchers such as Dewey. Standardized tests done by the case studies were better executed by traditional curriculum students than by STEM curriculum participants. The theory framework highlighted the importance of the STEM curriculum to philosophers and educators, which is an irony based on the study’s outcome. Moreover, the study highlighted the significance of comprehensive research on the curriculum and its implementation. The study’s outcome was far from educators’ beliefs and social interaction theories, but it highlighted the importance of understanding the curriculum for maximum benefits.

The study raised the question regarding the stage at which STEM-focused education should begin. Various conducted research studies do not explain the standardized tests’ elementary progress. Education facilitators should evaluate the impact of the STEM curriculum in elementary school and beyond. However, the study depicted that STEM has a better effect in the secondary and middle levels. Researchers analyzed that secondary level students exposed to the curriculum had more confidence in choosing STEM-related college subjects (Bentley, 2021, p.45). Additionally, middle school students achieved higher scores than students in traditional sciences and mathematics programs. Furthermore, the dissertation exposed the exclusion of minority groups, the disabled, and females in STEM programs (Bentley, 2021, p 46). The high achievement scores in the secondary and middle school levels for students exposed to the STEM program imply the hope of improved elementary performance if the students are exposed to the curriculum earlier.

The dissertation reveals very little research has been conducted on the elementary STEM program impact. However, the curriculum continues to gain ground in the education sector, making the dissertation a significant piece of the puzzle in future research studies. Moreover, educators need to equip themselves with ample knowledge of the curriculum’s advantages, limitations, and prospects. Comprehensive knowledge will ensure the program is beneficial at every educational level, promoting educators’ desire for more students to undertake scientific courses. Moreover, education facilitators must establish the actual benefits of the program and exploit them since multiple research studies have indicated the program provides little or no academic achievements. Ultimately, if the program has any elementary benefits, facilitators should discover and gainfully implement them.

Several interesting factors arose from the dissertation. One of the factors is the effectiveness of the STEM program in some levels, such as secondary and middle schools, whereas it openly failed in junior grades. The factor exposed an education gap that can only be bridged by conclusive research and findings implementation. Additionally, the dissertation depicted the importance of the program in bridging gender and ethnic gaps. The dissertation implied the program erased traditional gender roles hence encouraging women and minority groups to pursue STEM-related career paths. Furthermore, STEM is essential for the scientific and technological progress of the United States. Students should be encouraged to realize that the program goes beyond finishing a class to implementing the lessons learned to solve societal problems.

Several factors should be applied to refine the research. For instance, optional studies should be conducted using alternative methods such as qualitative or additional quantitive methodologies. Moreover, extensive scale studies with schools that have indulged in the program for an extended period can achieve more satisfactory results. Consequently, future studies should not only assess student performance but the societal impact after undergoing the program. Ultimately, STEM is a step in the right direction if well researched and wisely implemented.

References

Bentley, J. (2021). The Impact Of STEM Education on Elementary School Math and Science Achievement. Digital Commons, 1-121.

Mathes, K. M. (2019). A transcendental phenomenological study of the experiences of high school students engaged in an established 1:1 technology program. Liberty University, 1–170.