Utilizing Technology for Learning STEM Subjects: Perceptions of Urban African-American Middle School Students

By Xue Wen and Eugene Kennedy
2016, Vol. 8 No. 02 | pg. 3/3 |

Implications for Learning and Teaching

The compelling question to ask is how to exploit the potential of to promote students’ engagement, thereby enhance students’ academic achievement in Science, Computing, Engineering, Mathematics and other so-called technical disciplines (STEM), particularly for African American population. To that end, we provide some recommendations to educational practitioners (e.g., teachers, administrators):

  • Schools might partner with local community organizations (e.g. Pelican Educational Foundation) and local businesses to offer technology learning opportunities for African-American students, families, and community members at large. Schools are perceived as the bridges to correct the social inequity within our society. We should try to mobilize partnerships to enable schools to reach this goal.
  • Schools and teachers might meaningfully design technology-based learning experiences in STEM curriculums. For example, African-American students could be engaged with tasks involving the hypertext online web (e.g. wikis) for relevant information, or creating digital artifacts or using digital storytelling approach to demonstrate science concepts in their STEM expo presentations. Therefore, schools might need to equip with enough technology resources, such as the Internet, e-mail, smart boards, or any technological tools to support technology integration education.
  • Minority students from low socioeconomic families might be provided more opportunities to engage in an after-school program, field trips related to technology, advanced technology courses. Good news is that this school supported by Pelican Educational Foundation already offers after-school enrichment program for their students. It offers a variety of extracurricular academic programs, including First Lego League Robotics, Seaperch Underwater Robotics, and an after-school STEM club. Programs also could be offered on digital storytelling, graphics design, or several other areas relevant to students.
  • Schools might provide professional development for teachers on integrating technology in the curriculum and the ongoing technical support necessary to sustain an effective teaching environment within a school. Successful technology integration goes beyond the initial acquisition of hardware and software. Professional training might include coaching and online workshops which aim to equip teachers with necessary instructional technology skills to engage in the 21st century.
  • Middle school students were not proficient in information and communication technology (ICT) resources and demonstrating knowledge via ICT tools. Schools are encouraging students to demonstrate their knowledge and skill via digital technology. Employers are expecting graduates to perform a wide array of technology-related tasks.

Recommendations for Future Research

This research provides evidences of African-American students’ attitudes toward technology education and preferences with regard to the use of technology for STEM learning across gender and grade. However, the result of the current study is not sufficient to be representative for this population.

Future research should gain more insight through a larger sample size. In addition, future research should seek to explore why African-American boys are more willing to use a computer to help study than African-American girls, or why African-American girls are more likely to think it is helpful to use a computer to help their study. Why do younger African American children have stronger tendency to do class work through computers and believe that it is beneficial when using computers to help study? Why do African-American students think mobile devices are useful for learning mathematics? These questions will ultimately need to be answered in future research.

Through understanding the perceptions of today’s African American middle school students about technology education and the use of technology for learning, future research should address ways in which the African-American students’ positive attitudes and motivation can be exploited to promote success in STEM related fields.

Conclusions

The potential of technology to enhance pedagogical practices in K-12 STEM education requires an understanding of the preferences, attitudes, and technological habits of students. While there has been some research in this area, there has been limited focus on minority students, especially those in high , urban settings. Although it is widely recognized that increasing effective STEM engagement for this segment of the population is an important requirement for the country’s future, there is little information on their views and habits with regard to technology and its relevance to STEM education. This study sought to provide insights into this area at a critical point of potential intervention, middle level education.

The results of the study indicated that respondents to the survey were positive about the potential of technology in their education. Most did not indicate any significant limitations with regard to technology access. Remarkably, the respondents favorably valued the importance of technology and its significance in terms of STEM learning. Most, for example, perceived that it was important to know how to use the technology tools and looked forward to more opportunities to use technology tools for learning, therefore, more than half of them favored additional advanced courses related to technology and there was considerable demand for technology-focused after-school experiences.

Few notable differences were noted between males and females. In the third section of the survey, comparing to African-American girls, African-American boys expressed greater interests in doing class work with assistance of technology devices; however, African-American girls were more likely to value the meaningfulness of the use of technology for learning, particular when the role of technology is to help study.

The overall conclusion for this study was that African-American students were more positive toward technology than some literature (Fairlie, 2012; Jackson et al., 2008; MacHale, 2007) would suggest. It suggested that teachers and administrators should become familiar with the various ways minority students’ technology interests were supported in the school and at home and disseminate information about informal technology related activities or programs. Additionally, the preferences and perceptions of these students were relevant to the design of technology-based learning experiences. For example, if African-American students perceived that mobile devices were useful for learning mathematics, then this is a potential area that educators can exploit to promote practice and engage the learner.

 


 

References

Cheung, A. C. K., & Slavin, R. E. (2013). The effectiveness of educational technology applications for enhancing mathematics achievement in K-12 classrooms: A meta-analysis. Educational Research Review, 9, 88-113. doi:10.1016/j.edurev.2013.01.001

Clark-Wilson, A.; Hoyles, C.; Noss, R.; Vahey, P.; Roschelle, J. (2015). Scaling a technology-based innovation: windows on the evolution of mathematics teachers’ practices. The International Journal on Mathematics Education, 47 (1), 79-92. doi:10.1007/s11858-014-0635-6

Else-Quest, N. M., Mineo, C. C., & Higgins, A. (2013). Math and science attitudes and achievement at the intersection of gender and ethnicity. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 37(2). doi:10.1177/0361684313480694.

Eschenbrenner, B., & Nah, F. H. F. (2007). Mobile technology in education: uses and benefits. International Journal of Mobile Learning and Organization, 1(2), 159-183. doi:10.1504/IJMLO.2007.012676

Farinde, A. A. & Lewis, C. W. (2012). The underrepresentation of African American female students in STEM fields: Implications for classroom teachers. US- Education Review B 4, 421-430. Retrieved from: http://www.eric.ed.gov/contentdelivery/servlet/ERICServlet?accno=ED533550

Fairlie, R. W. (2012). Academic achievement, technology and race: Experimental evidence. Economics of Education Review, 31(5), 663-679. doi:10.1016/j.econedurev.2012.04.003

Grant, M. M. & Barbour, M. K. (2013). "Mobile Teaching and Learning in the Classroom and Online: Case Studies in K-12." Handbook of Mobile Learning. Berge, Z. & L. Muilenburg, eds. New York: Routledge.

George, D., & Mallery, P. (2003). SPSS for Windows step by step: A simple guide and reference. 11.0 update (4th ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon

Gibbons, J. D. (1993). Non-parametric statistics: an introduction. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.

Griffith, A. L. (2010). Persistence of women and minorities in STEM field majors: Is it the school that matters? Economics of Education Review 29, 911–922. doi: 10.1016/j.econedurev.2010.06.010

Goldstein, J., & Puntambekar, S. (2004). The brink of change: Gender in technology-rich collaborative learning environments. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 13(4), 506-522. doi:10.1007/s10956-004-1471-1

Hesseldahl, A. (2008). Bringing broadband to the urban poor. Bloomberg Business Week. Retrieved from: http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/dec2008/tc20081230_015542.htm

Hmelo-Silver, C. E., Eberbach, C., & Jordan, R. (2014). Technology-Supported Inquiry for Learning about Aquatic Ecosystems. EURASIA Journal of Mathematics, Science & Technology Education, 10(5), 405-413. doi: 10.12973/eurasia.2014.1170a

Hossain, M. M., & Robinson, M.G. (2012). How to motivate US students to pursue STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) careers. US-China Education Review A 4, 442-451. Retrieved from: http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED533548.pdf

Jackson, L. A., Zhao, Y., Kolenic, A., Fitzgerald, H. E., Harold, R., & Von-Eye, A. (2008). Race, gender, and information technology use: The new digital divide. Cyber Psychology and Behavior, 11(4), 437–442. doi:10.1089/cpb.2007.0157

KAHVECI, M. (2010). Students’ perceptions to use technology for learning: Measurement integrity of the modified Fennma-Sherman attitude scales. The Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology, 9(1), 185-201. Retrieved from: http://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ875782

Lane, A. (2014, December 20). More than 1 in 4 school-aged children in Louisiana live in poverty. The Times-Picayune. Retrieved from: http://www.nola.com/news/baton-rouge/index.ssf/2014/12/poverty_education_louisiana_ce.html

Louisiana STEM Expo. (2014). Former astronaut to highlight Louisiana STEM Expo. Retrieved from: http://www.kenilworthst.org/press/10-09-2013-Former%20astronaut%20to%20highlight%20Louisiana%20STEM%20Expo.pdf

Mahoney, M. P. (2010). Students’ attitudes toward STEM: development of an instrument for high school STEM-based programs. The Journal of Technology Studies, 36(1), 24-34. Retrieved From: http://scholar.lib.vt.edu/ejournals/JOTS/v36/v36n1/mahoney.html

McHale, T. (2007). One-to-one in Texas: Part three of our series on one-to-one programs. Technology & Learning, 27(6), p22. Retrieved from: http://www.techlearning.com/section/MagazineArchive.

McNierney, D. J. (2004). One teacher's odyssey through resistance and fear. TechTrends: Linking Research & Practice to Improve Learning, 48(5), 66-71. doi: 10.1007/bf02763533

Mitts, C. R., & Haynie, W. J. (2010). Preferences of male and female students for TSA competitive events. Technology and Engineering Teacher, 70(1), 19-26. Retrieved from: http://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ898908

Mouze, C. (2008). Learning with laptops: Implementation and outcomes in an urban, under-privileged school. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 40(4), 447-472. doi: 10.1080/15391523.2008.10782516

Ong, M. (2011). The status of women of color in computer science. Communications of the ACM, 54(7), 32-34. doi: 10.1145/1965724.1965737

Oravetz, C. L. (2011). Assessing middle school student participation in online vs. face-to-face environments. Retrieved from ProQuest LLC, Ed.D. Dissertation, Northeastern University.

Plumm, K. M. (2006). Technology in the classroom: Burning the bridges to the gaps in gender-biased education? Computers & Education, 50, 1052-1068. doi: 10.1016/j.compedu.2006.10.005

Project Tomorrow. (2013). Making learning mobile 1.0: Leveraging mobile devices to transform teaching and learning in 8th grade classes at Stone middle school. Retrieved from: http://www.tomorrow.org/publications/MobileDevicesTransformTeaching.html

Ritzhaupt, A. D., Liu, F., Dawson, K., & Barron, A. E. (2013). Differences in student information and communication technology literacy based on socio-economic status, ethnicity, and gender. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 45(4), 291–307. doi:10.1080/15391523.2013.10782607

Royston, P. (1982). An extension of Shapiro and Wilk's W test for normality to large samples. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society. Series C (Applied Statistics), 31(2), 115–124. doi: 10.2307/2347973

Sessoms, D. (2008). Interactive instruction: Creating interactive learning environments through tomorrow’s teachers. International Journal of Technology in Teaching and Learning, 4(2), 86-96.

Taines, C., Schneider, R., & Blumenfeld, P. C. (2000). Observations of urban middle school students engaged in technology-supported inquiry. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, New Orleans, LA.

U.S. Department of Education. (2003). Federal funding for educational technology and how it is used in the classroom: A summary of findings from the integrated studies of educational technology. Washington, DC: U.S. ED Pubs. Editorial Publications Center.

 


 

Appendix

Survey of Students’ Interests in Technology

Instructions: This survey presents a series of questions about your interest in technology education and the use of technology for learning. There are no right or wrong answers to any item on this survey, we want you to express your personal interests or feelings. For each item, please check the answer that best reflects your interests or feelings.

About You

  1. How old are you?
    -11 -12 -13 -14 -15 -16 -17 -18
  2. What grade are you in?
    -6 -7 -8
  3. Gender
    -boy -girl
  4. Your Ethnicity
    -Black -Hispanic -White -Other

Appendix 1

Students’ Interests in Technology Education

The Use of Technology in Learning

Appendix 2

Suggested Reading from Inquiries Journal

Third grade reading proficiency is believed to be an important benchmark in education. The transition from third grade to fourth grade marks the shift from “learning to read” to “reading to learn” other subject material. Third grade proficiency is also an indicator of a student’s later academic success... MORE»
Advertisement
Homework continues to be a controversial topic. The debate over homework is an old one, with attitudes shifting throughout the debate over the years. Proponents and opponents make cases to support their views on the necessity and importance of homework in the development of the student and the construction of knowledge. Good and... MORE»
Online forums are also known as discussion boards or message boards. They enable users of a website to interact with each other by exchanging tips and discussing topics related to a certain theme. Learning through online forums is an important learning strategy for students to improve their language skills. This article looks at... MORE»
The mere mention of the English Language Arts content area, for many people, might conjure images of ancient, dusty tomes, the sound of a classroom full of pens scratching across college-ruled paper, or the palpable befuddlement of students staring down a school year full of challenging texts and writing. Enter technology, and along... MORE»
Submit to Inquiries Journal, Get a Decision in 10-Days

Inquiries Journal provides undergraduate and graduate students around the world a platform for the wide dissemination of academic work over a range of core disciplines.

Representing the work of students from hundreds of institutions around the globe, Inquiries Journal's large database of academic articles is completely free. Learn more | Blog | Submit

Follow SP

Latest in Education

2017, Vol. 9 No. 03
The process of selecting a dissertation adviser can be accomplished in a number of ways. The importance, however, of this process should not be understated. This relationship between advisor and advisee often can be the difference between completing... Read Article »
2015, Vol. 6 No. 1
Published by Clocks and Clouds
The Troubles, a period of conflict between mostly Protestant Unionists and mostly Catholic Nationalists in Northern Ireland, ended in 1998 with the signing of the Good Friday or Belfast Agreement. The division of society, however, continues in its... Read Article »
2017, Vol. 9 No. 01
A commonly observed trend among American universities is the relative underperformance of minorities in the academic arena. The usual, often lazily regurgitated explanation for this phenomenon revolves around socioeconomic situations that minority... Read Article »
2016, Vol. 8 No. 06
Although education is at the forefront of innumerable research and development initiatives, some countries remain significantly under-researched. While increasing statistics exist on development indicators and education in The Lao PDR (hereafter... Read Article »
2016, Vol. 8 No. 03
Nontraditional students represent a substantial proportion of those enrolled in higher education institutions. The purpose of this literature review is to identify (1) distinctions between traditional and nontraditional students and (2) factors... Read Article »
2016, Vol. 8 No. 03
For today's children, technological devices such as iPads, smartphones, and e-readers are quickly replacing more traditional "toys" as sources of learning and entertainment. With their capacity to contain a multitude of activities within a single... Read Article »
2015, Vol. 6 No. 2
University websites across the country showcase the important underlying values of study abroad: experiencing a "local" culture, creating interactive conversations, and empowering students through personal and academic development. This research... Read Article »

What are you looking for?

FROM OUR BLOG

5 Tips for Publishing Your First Academic Article
Presentation Tips 101 (Video)
Finding Balance in Graduate School