Helping Students Use Technology Wisely in the Classroom

 

It is becoming more and more apparent that high school students use technology daily in and out of the classroom. While students may be experts at using online technology to communicate and socialize, Greene and Bolick’s review of literature shows that “many of them struggle to navigate computer-based resources to complete academic tasks” (p. 3) and still need a great deal of support to self-regulate their learningby avoiding the many distractions on the Internet and learning which sites are helpful and trustworthy and which sites to steer away from. Classroom teachers are faced with the difficult task of providing this support while not allowing the technology to become a distraction. Greene and Bolick found that there is minimal research literature to help define best practices for teachers facing this challenge; therefore, they have developed a way to help both teachers and students use technology in a more productive manner. Greene and Bolick use the acronym PSUM, standing for planning, strategy use, and monitoring to provide a supportive method for high school students and teachers across subject areas to implement technology as an academic tool while self-regulating their learning process.

 

Greene and Bolick used the literature to define self-regulated learning as . Self-regulation takes place before, during, and after a learning task and some of the activities that a self-regulated learner would take part in are listed below:

  • Before Learning the learner:
    • Identifies what needs to be learned,
    • Activates prior knowledge about the learning goals,
    • Sets goals and establishes a strategic plan to accomplish those goals.
  • During Learning the learner:
    • Engages with the content,
    • Monitors how well they are progressing towards their learning goals,
    • Employ multiple effective strategies to maximize learning (i.e. imagery, asking questions, making inferences).
  • After Learning the learner:
    • Self-reflects, processing the prior two phases and analyzing which strategies worked best for that learning task and which did not, as well as focusing on what was learned throughout the process.

 

 

The Intervention:

 

 

Greene and Bolick reviewed literature across the content areas of reading, writing, mathematics, science, and history looking for ways that teachers can incorporate direct instruction of self-regulated learning while using technology. Strong empirical evidence and common themes throughout the literature identify self-regulation interventions that can be applied to technology use across content areas, These include the following tips:

  • Setting goals is key for students to self-regulate while striving to reach the achieved learning objective.
  • Students can learn to self-monitor, particularly their understanding of the material while completing a task, through explicit direct instruction. The literature indicates that students can internalize the skill with practice and feedback.
  • Content-specific learning strategies (e.g., comparing and contrasting in science, creating narratives in history) should be explicitly taught.
  • Teacher modeling, guided practice, peer group practice, and independent practice have been shown to be effective ways to scaffold self-regulated learning.

 

This information is the basis for Greene and Bolick’s acronym PSUM. Here is how it works:

  1. Planning – Instruct students to use the learning task to set clear goals for themselves based on the gap between what they already know and what they need to learn.
  2. Strategy – Help students learn to prioritize these goals by considering the task, the amount of time, and what information is most important. “Through instructing students to plan for an assignment, we enhanced their ability to plan their learning process by encouraging them to identify clear individualized goals, develop a time management plan to keep them on track to meet those goals, and identify useful information for meeting those goals (p.25).”
  3. Monitoring – Students should use the following four types of questions to attentively assess their learning process throughout the task :
    1. relevance of content question, for example, “Did I pick something useful?”
    2. monitoring understanding, “Do I understand what I have learned?”
    3. reflect back to the goals set during planning, “Am I reaching my goals?”
    4. And future accessibility, “Will this information be accessible or remembered for a later assessment if I am unable to recall it?”

 

Greene and Bolick developed the intervention based on the research in the area of SRL and technology use in the classroom. This is an exciting addition to the research literature about how to use technology as a tool that increases student knowledge.