The iPad : novelty or breakthrough for science education?

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Montana State University - Bozeman, Graduate School


This research is focused on the impact of the Apple iPad upon student learning, student motivation, and student/teacher attitudes towards technology use in a middle school science classroom. Three eighth-grade science classes used iPads for three alternating weeks for their study of astronomy. During intervening weeks, the classes reverted to more traditional instructional practices. Quantitative data included comparison of daily quiz scores between treatment and non-treatment weeks. Another source of quantitative data included results from numeric responses from pre and post-treatment surveys. Qualitative data included open-ended student responses on survey forms, interviews, teacher field notes, and student work artifacts. Quantitative data showed small improvements in student achievement, student motivation, and student attitudes toward technology use in their learning. However, all qualitative data sources suggested the iPad had a much larger impact in all three areas. Moreover, results suggested the iPad had a larger positive impact on student motivation and student attitudes towards technology with the lowest-achieving students. The results of this study suggested the Apple iPad is indeed a breakthrough technology for student science learning. The effect is so powerful that school districts should consider allowing student access to their personal hand-held media devices in class, if adequate numbers of iPads are not available.




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