Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Research Journal: Building ICT skills for all students

Turner, K.C.N. 2011. "Rap universal": Using multimodal media production to develop ICT literacies. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 58(8), 613-623. doi: 10.1598/JAAL.54.5.6.

I wrote an abstract for this article, but I found that it resonated with me beyond inclusion with my abstracts and in my literature review. The article describes a qualitative study conducted in a media-based extended-day program at a middle school. The school is described as being in "one of the most impoverished school districts in Northern California" with 75% of the students on free or reduced lunch. I work in what would be considered an impoverished district right now, and the other two school districts I've worked in would also fall into that category. While the school and district aren't identified by name, I immediately felt a connection to the school environment described in the study, especially as I continued to read the article and the researcher described the challenges that many students at the school face in terms of technology access and skill.

The students in the study were participating in a program where their teacher taught them critical literacy skills and they did media analysis of different videos, such as documentaries or hip hop videos. Then, they went out into their community, did some research, and created their own videos. Based on the article, it appeared that each student created a hip-hop song where they wrote the lyrics, created the beats, and related it to a community event or issue. Even though I don't think that this program took place at any of the schools where I've worked, having that vision in my head really brought the study alive for me and I think it is a valid mental reference point for understanding the study. I see so many students in a similar situation, who don't have the information and technology literacy skills that their higher income peers have, for such a variety of reasons. It is one of my deepest convictions as a teacher librarian that I need to find a way to help kids develop these essential skills. I don't have the power to implement a 1 3/4 hour extended day program at our failing computer lab, but the results that Turner published are a very compelling. The students, and their teachers, said that the students developed ICT and critical thinking skills that they were then applying in class. The teachers specifically said that kids in the program were showing better progress in class than students who were not enrolled.

While this was my favorite article that I read out of all of them, it also had the smallest sample size and warrants much further study because of that. The results were inspirational, so it would be great to see something like that duplicated on a larger scale. Maybe a study could be conducted in an entire school district, or at least the whole school, with more researchers and the capacity to have more focal students. The reading we've done so far in this class helped me look critically at the methods of the study and see that there are advantages and drawbacks to this type of qualitative research, that has high detail but a small sample size. It also helped me understand the concept of triangulation--the student comments were triangulated with information from the undergraduate tutors and the classroom teachers.

This article should add value to my literature review by demonstrating that multi-modal media production and critical media literacy can have a positive impact on learning outcomes.

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