Tuesday, December 29, 2009


In this age of accountability, it is more important than ever to be able to justify the tools and techniques we use in our classrooms with solid research. There are many research studies into the effects of teaching with interactive whiteboards, and I will discuss those studies in a later post. 

Whether utilized in conjunction with an interactive whiteboard or a projector and a wireless mouse, there are also a growing number of research studies on the effects of teaching with interactive content.   For years, I was an advocate in my school of teaching with online interactive content because I saw the positive effects the instructional technique had in my classroom. My students were motivated to actively participate and exhibited learning gains when I instructed with interactive content.  Those experiences with my students were the greatest catalysts for my founding of StarrMatica. 

I am also an advocate for instructing with interactive content because it is a research based teaching technique that is supported by a myriad of research studies. Here is a small sampling of that research:

Research by Middleton & Murray shows:

• Students whose teachers were high level users of technology in the classroom scored significantly better than did students whose teachers were low level users of technology in the classroom. (Teachers who were high level users were differentiated from teachers who were low level users in terms of frequency and extent of use of computers with students, instructional methods used with technology, attitude toward the value of technology for learning, variety of uses of technology, and perception of influence of technology on student learning and behavior.)1

Research by Cotton shows:

• The use of technology, specifically computer-assisted instruction, also results in increased student motivation and the improvement of student attitudes toward learning, toward themselves as learners, toward the use of computers, toward the quality of instruction, and toward school in general. Studies have even indicated that “computer-assisted learning results in higher levels of self-efficacy, higher school attendance rates, increased time on-task, and increased pro-social behavior.” 2
Research by Bridgforth and Cradler shows that teachers also benefit greatly from the use of technology:

• Technology improves teacher quality by creating time for them to be engaged in advising students, by requiring rethinking and revision of curriculum and instructional methods, and by acting as a catalyst for increased teacher and administrative communication with parents.
• Teachers have even shown increased interest in teaching with the ability to use technology in the classroom. 3

However, and I cannot stress this enough, according to the research and my own classroom observations, HOW technology is used the classroom is very important. It is not enough to simply have technology present in the classroom or school. The manner in which technology is utilized is a major determining factor in its ability to influence student achievement.

Technology, specifically instructional software, has been proven most effective when integrated into classroom instruction. Students who experienced teacher-led standards-based instruction with technology showed higher overall gains than students who experienced the same curricula and technology in an isolated lab setting. Teachers have the ability to match computer instruction with the children’s development, the curriculum sequence, and the needs of particular groups of students. Teachers must be involved, “orchestrators” of technology, rather than quiet observers of students in learning isolation. 4

Furthermore, the instructional techniques teachers use to integrate technology in the classroom is of equal importance. Marzano performed a meta-analysis of the summarized findings of over 100 research studies involving 4,000+ experimental versus control group comparisons to identify instructional techniques that significantly impact student achievement. Three of those techniques include: having students represent new knowledge in graphic/nonlinguistic formats, using computer-based manipulatives to explore and practice using new knowledge, and teaching new knowledge to students directly through demonstration and explanation then having them apply it on their own. 5

Developing teacher-led lessons that include interactive online content around these instructional techniques is a winning combination for both you and your students.

Has technology increased your interest in teaching?  How do you incorporate interactive content into your instruction?  What evidence have you seen of the effects of instructing with interactive content in your classroom?

1. Middleton, B.M. & Murray, R.K. “The impact of instructional technology on student academic achievement in reading and mathematics.” International Journal of Instructional Media, 26(1), 109 (1999)

2. Cotton, K. Computer-assisted instruction. Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory.
http://www.nwrel.org/scpd/sire/5/cu10.html (1992)

3. Bridgforth, Elizabeth and Cradler, John. Recent Research on the Effect of Technology on Teaching and Learning. http://www.wested.org/techpolicy/research.html

4. Mann, D., Shakeshaft, C. Becker, J. & Kottkamp, R. (1998) “West Virginia Story: Achievement gains from a statewide comprehensive instructional technology program.” Santa Monica, CA: Milken Exchange on Educational Technology

5. Marzano, Robert.J. (1998). A theory-based meta-analysis of research on instruction. Aurora, CO: Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning.

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