One of the things I’ve been really struggling with in writing this book is the dearth of statistical research surrounding the use of blogs in educational settings. I’ve seen references to a couple of studies but haven’t been able to dig up the results. I found this description of a 2004 study by Kimberly Rynearson of Tarleton State University, but never found the results:
The primary research question guiding the study is: Are weblogs a viable technology for improving students’ reading/writing achievement? The study addresses this question directly by measuring students’ performance on end-of-year measures of reading/writing achievement.
Read the entire .pdf for more detail…and please let me know if anyone has seen the outcome.
Today, Stephen Downes points to a News in Science article titled “Blogs help students think for themselves.”
Blogging is helping students to think and write more critically, says an Australian researcher, and can help draw out people who would otherwise not engage in debate.
These are the preliminary findings of PhD research by Anne Bartlett-Bragg, a lecturer at the University of Technology, Sydney, who has been using weblogs or blogs in her own teaching since 2001.
“[The students] are thinking more critically,” she says. “They are learning to be responsible and they’re communicating outside the boundaries of the classroom and the institution, and they like that.”
A couple of caveats: no methodology is cited, and I couldn’t find any at her blog either (though I didn’t spend a whole lot of time digging.) Also, her research seems to point more to higher ed. That’s why I wish I could find the results to the previous study.
But, hey…it’s a start…
Ewan McIntosh says
I am in the process of doing some research on blogging which will be presented at this year’s SETT Learning Festival in Glasgow. The seminar is likely to be podcast at http://www.settshow.com – I’ll also be putting a reference on edu.blogs.com.
The problem with trying to do empirical research on blogging is that there are so many variables in a school. You can’t be sure that any perceived improvement is down to the blogs or the nature of the class, and you cannot be sure of the nature of the control group either.
My research is qualitative, including comments from students, but there is a methodology so you know where it’s all coming from! I plan on doing some more in-depth research on both blogging and podcasting as I am beginning to be solicited to talk about it left, right and centre. Time to do the homework, I think, to help evangelise the medium to the sceptics.
Robert Rozema says
Have you seen the excellent collection of scholarly essays at Into the Blogosphere (http://blog.lib.umn.edu/blogosphere/)? Most are theoretical rather than research-based, but a few are based on qualitative classroom studies.
I’d also recommend a great paper by Colin Lankshear and Michael Knobel entitled “Do it Yourself Broadcasting” (http://www.geocities.com/c.lankshear/blog2003.html). If you are not familiar with this one, it is a theoretical piece, but it cites various studies and tackles the edublogging issue head on.
Hope these help.
My research involves two grade ten classrooms in two different communities discussing a wide range of topics that they chose. The teachers involved stayed out of the discussions for the most part and it got fairly intense. I am currently writing my thesis but will not post anything until I feel content with the quality of my writing. The results were very interesting and I will share them when I am done. I would also recomment Allan Luke’s papers or anything by the New London Group. My work is looking at critical literacy and social constructivism and the new shared authority in classrooms.
Keep blogging! It helps to have places where I can read, think and share with other like minded educators.
Anne Bartlett-Bragg says
This is Anne Bartlett-Bragg – from the article “Blogs help students think for themselves”!
It was a very basic news article – and after about 4 hours of phone interviews, I’m not so sure the journalist actually understood what I was talking about – she had never heard of blogs….
Yes – these are higher ed students (undergraduate university level) and some corporate frontline trainers.
Yes – there is methodology – just as you rightly noted, not written up on that particular weblog. In fact, I’m in the process of writing that chapter of my PhD – the challenge is do I blog it and/or write it…just juggling between writing for my research weblog and writing the thesis…
The aim of the research is to determine, from the students’ perspective, if the use of weblogs to form personalised collaborative learning networks is perceived as enhancing their learning process and the development of knowledge.
I’ve used a qualitative methodology – Phenomenography – a method for mapping qualitative data that categorises and describes the different ways a group of people experience, conceptualise, perceive, and understand various aspects of phenomena in their specific context.
Early data analysis shows evidence that the students’ are finding the initial process of publicly writing (about their subject matter) rather challenging – but once they get going they are reporting increased levels of engagement with the content and the need to consider the topics in greater depth before they publish their work.
I’ll publish more as I get further results that will add value – at the moment it all feels rather massive wading through data …
Cheers – Anne BB 🙂