Education Research Freestyle writing – Moodle survey- 1st Draft –

Student Moodle Survey

By Roland Lucas

CUNY Graduate Center

Doctorate of philosophy

Urban Education Department

Science Math and Technology

Abstract

The NJ Charter high school where I teach mathematics and where I am the math department coordinator has made a substantial commitment to using online learning products to enhance learning and achieve educational objectives. Moodle is a course content management system used there that facilitates collaborative learning among stakeholders. This current school year is the first time the school has utilized Moodle. The Moodle course content management system has been up and running in the school from the beginning of the current school year.  The school has a license for 500 users, and currently there are nearly 200 users enrolled in the system.  I have given an introductory professional development lesson for about 1 hour to the entire teaching staff, at the beginning of the school year.  I gave individual instruction on using the software to teachers in the math department. I made it a point to incorporate the Moodle technology into each of my classes, algebra 2 and college algebra prep. The other math teachers have not made use of the Moodle despite my encouragement thus far.

Actual Implementation

The actual implementation of Moodle was on a smaller scale than I had hoped for during the beginning of the school year. The plan was for all teachers to experiment with Moodle, and certainly for all math teachers to make heavy use of it. Since I am head of the math department at my school I figured I would be able to get the math teachers to buy in fully. I was not able to do so for three main reasons. One, my classroom was the only one in which computers were installed (10 computers). The other math teachers had access to a media lab but would have had to contend with all the other teachers for time slots. The teachers only used my room once or twice, only after I put lots of pressure on them to use technology beyond a graphing calculator with their lessons. So, one other reason is that the math teachers did not share my enthusiasm for incorporating technology in the classroom. The last reason is that the overall organization of the school was poor. The school was under great pressure to improve its processes because it was in its 2nd year of CAPA review by the state and its charter was up for renewal. The director of the school had a lot of new processes put in place in attempts to save the school from closing. In this climate it was nearly impossible to add the Moodle technology on top of the many other things teachers had to adjust to. This explains the reduced scale of using Moodle in the school.

Moodle was used intermittently with my 3 sections Algebra 2 and one section of a senior Algebra math classes. This accounts for approximately 50 students. Moodle was used more actively with the Algebra 2 students than with the senior class. Each student has a portfolio in Moodle to store and share electronic files. Several projects were given throughout the school year that typically generated MS Word, Power Points, Geometer’s sketchpad files. These files were then shared into a common shared folder. Moodle was also used as a site for students to access teacher files and for students to submit math journal writings in forums. The survey that students submitted on Moodle itself was created and administered in Moodle. It must be noted that the school’s charter was not renewed and that the students took the survey during a time of duress for the entire school, and overall unsettlement of students. Students overall are less motivated during this time of year, and news of the school’s closing only adds to the lack of motivation at the time of the survey.

Moodle Survey and results

Ten questions were asked of my students during class time to get feedback on their experience of using Moodle. Of my 50 or so students, I’ve been able to get 25 to respond to the survey. I anticipate that another 10 or 15 will respond in the near future. Students were asked to respond to questions 1 through 9 on a liker scale of 1 to 7 where 1 was a lower valuation, 4 was neutral, and 7 was a high valuation. My thinking was that this kind of scale would allow for students to express a negative valuation (anything lower than 4) along with a positive one (anything greater than 4). Question 10 was an essay type question, and students were asked to be as detailed as they can with this question.

The following were the questions asked of the students and the average response given:

  1. How often have you used the Moodle as per the teacher’s encouragement? – 4.0
  1. How easy Moodle is to use? – 5.4
  1. 3. Moodle is important for improving your math course work. – 3.6
  1. Has using the Moodle has helped to improve your overall understanding of math? – 3.1
  1. 5. Moodle helped you prepare for your assessments in some important way.  – 3.8
  1. Using Moodle can fulfill an important educational need for me. – 3.6
  1. Using Moodle can provide learning experiences beyond what the same course can provide without Moodle. – 3.6
  1. Moodle has allowed me to build important relationships collaborative with others. – 3.4
  1. I would recommend my future teachers to use Moodle along with the course. – 4.2

10.  Please provide any feedback you may have regarding your experience of using Moodle with your math class.

Interpretation of Survey Results

Of all the questions from 1 through 9, only 1,2 and 9 received an average score above 4 (neutral).  I expected higher results than that, primarily because I thought students would more highly value integrating technology such as Moodle into the curriculum, in comparison to a regular approach.  Question 7 was intended to get at this higher valuation, but apparently most of these students did not see it that way.  The majority of students responded however that they would recommend using Moodle in future classes.  This tells me that they have an overall positive valuation of the tool, even though the specific questions do not reveal why.

Not willing to let it go at that I thought I would select out my honors section and compare their responses to the other two sections as I think they would somehow appreciate this technology infusion approach more, and perhaps are more steady in their perceptions given the conditions that I spoke of above.

Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q5 Q6 Q7 Q8 Q9
5 7 7 6 7 5 5 4 6
5 7 3 2 4 2 4 1 4
5 7 2 1 4 4 3 1 7
4 7 5 3 2 5 3 3 6
6 7 5 5 5 5 4 6 5
3 7 5 3 5 4 3 4 4
3 6 4 3 6 3 4 2 5
2 5 3 3 5 3 2 6 2
Average 4.1 6.6 4.3 3.3 4.8 3.9 3.5 3.4 4.9

This result set from the honor students who responded shows that for most questions (5 of 9) these students had a positive valuation of using Moodle in the course.  For most questions their scores are the same as that of the entire set of respondents, with the exception of question 9. Honors students gave question 9 the second highest score of 4.9, suggesting that overall these students had a positive valuation of using Moodle in the course.  This coincides with the average score of 4.2 for question 9, counting the entire set of respondents.  Why honor students would generally give a higher score for question 9 than the total set of respondents is open for interpretation.  I think it’s that they tend to see the positive possibilities more clearly than other students who perhaps have an overall pessimistic attitude towards math.

Responses to Question 10

The following are all responses given to question 10:

1)    I think that using the moodle is a new and good experience for everyone. it is an easier way to share your work with others and look at others people work.

2)    Moodle is a very good excerise for students. It helps students have a better understandin on their math skills. Also, it helps them prepare for any big project or assessment.

3)    Moodle is very good with combinding technology in the lesson.

4)    My experience with usinging the moodle was fairly good. The moddle came in handy when we were doing a class project and had to show it to the the class, or when we had to hand work in. The moodle was only helpful with projects in my opinion.

5)    The moodle is an good way of how to bring new- age technology into education. That will bring students more invovled into the lesson, because it will remind them of the blogs, and personal websites such as, facbook, myspace, and twitter.

Then also on the other-hand the moodle is somewhat a waste of time, because we really dont do anything on here. The main things we do is put our projects on here, answer some word problems, and also answer irrelevant surveys. Even though, moodle has been like this for a while, there’s still hope for change. Some suggestions could be; maybe there can be actual lessons and math sections on the here, maybe even homework and instead of us handing in on paper, we’ll send it through a message. Since we’re in the years of technology, lets bring educations from out of the books into computer files and desktops. I think that moodle will grow if we all just add some of the suggestions we have and combine them as one.

6)    The moodle is very helpful and can be very resourceful. My personal is experience with the moodle is very descent. I dont use it that much but when i do it tends to work out to my advantage.

7)    Using Moodle is not hard, but to me it’s just not necessary. I do not see the point in the Moodle, because if I wanted to see or know what other people are doing or what they posted I would log into myspace and/or facebook.I do not think a lot of people use Moodle, if they do it is only because they are beign forced by their teachers. To me that is the only time people use Moodle, it is not important to them in their everyday life.

8)    Moodle is a very good way of learning in future courses and also a important technic for teachers to manage to help there students. With moodle students can explore more and make math a bit more fun (an element thats missin in math). Specialy for some students for me in particularly, i don’t realy like math that much so its harder for me, but with moodle i can plan my projects and other thing that incorporate real world problems.

The only worng thing that i see about moodle is that it is to formal. Moodle needs to grabe more attention. Lets think about it we are teens we dont like think to straight and formal. It  also needs more of the action happening on it thing that make student come to moodle, it could be home work, game, music, anything that atracts but educational at the same time.

9)    can i finish reading plus

10) i hate this … it is very boring kno that

11) i like moodle .i prefer to use moodle then to do work out the book .soo my input would be to use moodle more often…..

12) I like the moodle, expecially if i want to ask for help from others online. it is a good way to discuss our work we have done in our algebra/sra classes. i like it..good job in choosing this….!!

13) I NEVER LIKE THIS BECAUSE ITS ANNOYING THE TEACHER IS TOOO

14) I think moodle and very fun and interesting. Its allows you to do alot of things, like share your projects with other students and teachers. While your working on your assignment moodle allows you to chat with people thats on moodle at the time. It also has every subject which is good because everyone can use it.

15) i think moodle is a good thing for people. it helps people a lot in many ways. it helps with math and reading… i only used  for math and it was cool. it help me a lot.

16) i was forced to use this program because the school requires this

17) It helped out when we were practicing open ended problems for the HSPA.

18) moodle allows you to do alot of things. they’re many things to do you can chat with your friends while you complete your work.

19) moodle has a 50-50 chance of being useful to students. So it might work for some and not for others

20) moodle is an easier way of doing work, but there are like alot of steps to get to where you want. You have to click alot of places to get to somewhere. over all, you can post forums, talk to friends, and have discussion. It is nice, but i wouldnt use it as a site to go as my own free time. I don\’t know, maybe something is missing it. it is a good school site, and it is very supportive as a site.

21) Moodle is an ok site to be on it help me sometimes on math but i already know math good do i really dont need help .

22) moodle is just to post things not to do work on it

23) moodle is used but not much in math

24) Though i sometimes felt that this whole “moodle thing” is being forced on the students, i ultamatly realised that this might come in handy for hammering in certain points in math.

25) using moodle has been a great experience. I found it easy to use.

Interpretation of Question 10

If I were to try to focus in on any of these responses, I would immediately bring into play my own value system by selecting certain responses to this question and not selecting others.  I don’t necessarily want to comment one each response given.  Yet, I want to summarize the overall responses and come away with a assessment as to whether or not using Moodle was beneficial to helping my students improve their understanding and performance in math.  I want to use the student’s freestyle responses to gain a qualitative sense of their answer to this question.  It therefore seems reasonable for me to classify the responses in the following terms to obtain a summary: Positive w/ Strong Reasons; Positive w/ Weak Reasons; Negative w/ Strong Reasons; Negative w/ Weak Reasons.  Just as I was about to do this interpretation I thought I would not only be bringing my value system into play, but that I would lose the quality of the students’ description by this reductionism.  I therefore decided to take a different approach to interpretation.  I will acknowledge the engagement of my own value judgment upfront by selecting from the responses things that I think are indicative that Moodle was a helpful tool for them.  I will also pull out things that I think the students are saying that need to be addressed in its future use.

Student #1 said “it is an easier way to share your work with others and look at others people work”.  This is a major goal of Moodle.  That is, to manage, share and multiply knowledge capital with great efficiency. Student 5 expresses that the use of Moodle was limited in the class. This student identifies other capabilities of Moodle and gives the suggestion that they be explored. I agree.  This students suggests

“maybe there can be actual lessons and math sections on the here, maybe even homework and instead of us handing in on paper, we’ll send it through a message. Since we’re in the years of technology, lets bring educations from out of the books into computer files and desktops. I think that moodle will grow if we all just add some of the suggestions we have and combine them as one.”

Though student 7 expresses that Moodle is a waste of time, this student expresses what his or her measure is.  It should be relevant to their everyday life. Moodle is a content management system and can be accessed from any web browser.  It is up to the teacher to increase the relevancy of the content on Moodle to the student’s everyday life.

Student #8 I think expounds on the sentiment of student #7.  She said that Moodle could make math learning a bit more fun, “an element thats missin in math”, and helps with organizing information as in projects. Hopefully those projects are relevant to the student’s interests. She goes further to say,  (with poor spelling – English is her second language)

“The only worng thing that i see about moodle is that it is to formal. Moodle needs to grabe more attention. Lets think about it we are teens we dont like think to straight and formal. It  also needs more of the action happening on it thing that make student come to moodle, it could be home work, game, music, anything that atracts but educational at the same time.”

Conclusion

These responses speak directly to a major point that Gee makes, which is that learning has to be fun, engaging, interesting and yet provoking the development of skill sets.  These are major objectives of video games design.  I think that most of the negative responses would change if these things were accomplished.  Needless to say that the content has to address the learning objectives of the given course while at the same time make math fun.  So developing positive student engagement and attitudes towards math will likely translate into higher student understanding and achievement.

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