Collaboration facilitated through technology : part of a comprehensive inquiry-based teachning and learning strategy
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As our school embraces technology integration, identifying effective methods of reinforcing and enriching inquiry-based instruction through technology has become a focus. My study compared the academic and motivational impacts of technology-based collaboration to traditional face-to-face collaboration. Emphasis was placed on determining if collaborating through technology distracted students or if it facilitated cognitive growth in terms of improved critical thinking and problem solving. Within the context of thematic units, students were given instruction on conducting cooperative activities and allowed to practice. Prior to collaborative interventions, the treatment group was allowed to become familiar with various types of technology through play, exploration and simple practical assignments. Eventually, the treatment group shifted from face-to-face collaboration to technology-facilitated collaboration. Simultaneously, the non-treatment group practice face-to-face collaboration. Academic performance and content literacy were measured through summative assessments, project plans and practical applications. Additional data concerning student motivation, engagement, problem-solving proficiency, and critical thinking skills were collected through surveys, interviews, teacher video journals and student journals. The results indicate that technology-based collaborative activities did little to improve the academic performance of low-range students. Low-range performers, however, benefited technically and socially from their peer-to-peer interactions. Mid-range and high-range academic performers benefited significantly from the technology interventions. The data also suggest that while student motivation to communicate through technology diminished over time, critical-thinking and problem-solving skills greatly improved as the study progressed.