How teachers make assessments of digital learning materials

Student thesis: Master thesis (including HD thesis)

  • Rasmus Malte von Sehested
The purpose of this study is to research how teachers make assessments of digital learning materials for elementary school. The main focus is to gain knowledge about the criteria used by the teachers in the assessments, how the assessments are performed and which, if any, tools and aids is used by the teachers in the assessment.

The research has been conducted as a qualitative study where the participants have been interviewed about how they assess digital learning material and were then asked to consider an unknown digital learning material. The last part of the research was done by retrospective "think aloud" and the participants’ memories were assisted by the use of eye-tracking during the assessment. Afterwards, the material has been coded for themes and analyzed.

I conducted the research among four teachers in the municipality of Aarhus, all of which are participants in a project called “De 32” (The 32). This project is about the development of digital teaching methods and these teachers were selected as participants in the study because of an expected higher level of digital literacy than average with at least a level of digital usage (Martin, 2006, p. 155). The four teachers all teach Danish in secondary school and the previously unknown digital teaching material was a material for Danish. It turned out that none of the participants knew the material iLitt.dk, so this was used for all four teachers.

Findings
The research shows that the teachers make their assessments of digital learning materials from the viewpoint of their own experiences and their expertise in their subject matter. They have both a clear understanding as to what their classes need and the teaching practice required. Therefore, the teachers appear to make their assessment decisions of digital learning material based on class needs and practicality. This means that the teachers actually assess their perceived idea about how the digital learning materials would function in the practice they have; how it will work with their pupils in their classes in the way they normally teach. The teachers’ characterization of the teaching materials and their analysis of the design stand rather weak in the assessment work. Assessment of digital teaching materials appears to be mostly a question of individual teacher's personal opinion and taste in presentation design, aesthetics and didactics according to the findings in the research.

The criteria used by the teachers lack certain areas and do not cover all the criteria used by Illum Hansen and Bundsgaard (Illum Hansen & Bundsgaard, Kvaliteter ved digitale læremidler og ved pædagogiske praksisser med digitale læremidler, 2013) or in the learning object review instrument (Leacock & Nesbit, 2007), which means that the teachers’ assessments have blind spots; areas that are overlooked in the assessment process. (We think you are stating that the teachers are biased in their selection process, making them susceptible to blind spots (which are?). Use the literature references to provide examples of these blind spots.)

The research further indicates that the teachers do not use tools or aids in the assessment process very often, and if they are used, the aids or aids are used retrospective to check if certain criteria were not looked upon and fill gaps. The study further shows that the teacher’s team has a key role in both the assessment and in the decision whether to buy the assessed material or not.

Conclusion and discussion
From this study, it appears that the assessment and decisions of digital learning materials are based on already "in use" teaching practices. Usage of an objective selection process for digital materials is only used retrospectively. Therefore it seems that digital learning materials which use new technologies or do not fall within in situ teaching practice, may be discriminated against. When the assessment of digital learning materials is focused on already existing teaching practice, it becomes a challenge for teaching materials that try to use new technology to support change in teaching and learning. The study also indicates that the team has an important role with respect to digital material decisions

This would indicate that; 1) the teachers should be supported to make better assessments, so that the existing practice does not become the measurement; and 2) the role of the team as very important in the assessment, so further research into how the team develops a learning material culture with a professional language for assessment is needed, so that this process can be supported.
LanguageDanish
Publication date2 Jan 2014
Number of pages71
ID: 172672250