Developing Students’ Intrinsic Motivation to Write
Today, the Common Core standards in the United States call for an increased emphasis on student writing in multiple subject areas. Some students may welcome more writing opportunities at school, while other students may dismiss writing as frustrating and burdensome. In their article, “The Bright and Dark Side of Writing Motivation: Effects of Explicit Instruction and Peer Assistance,” authors Fien de Smedt et al. explain that student motivation to write plays an important part in students’ actual writing performance. Previous studies have shown that students who have stronger beliefs in their own writing abilities and who are motivated to write actually have better writing performance (1). In contrast, students who have weaker beliefs in their own writing abilities and who are less motivated to write often display a dislike of writing in school (1). The question for De Smedt et al., then, is: How do we increase students’ motivation to write, and thus help them become more willing and better writers?
Reducing Test Anxiety in Elementary School Children: Coloring Before a Test
Today, test anxiety is the most prevalent form of anxiety among K-12 students. Researchers Dana Carsley and Nancy L. Heath note that even one third of elementary school students experience test anxiety (1). Test anxiety has been linked to lower grades in school, grade retention, dropout, and mental health problems in students. Moreover, “effects of test anxiety can increase in severity if not treated at a young age” (1). In response to the increasing prevalence of test anxiety among students, school administrations and teachers have incorporated anxiety-reducing measures into schools and classrooms. However, Carsley and Heath remark that “these programs are typically lengthy and include several sessions that span over multiple weeks” (1). They argue that given the extent of test anxiety, it is essential that teachers are aware of effective, easy-to-implement anxiety-reducing strategies that require “no additional teacher training and minimal class time” (1).
Classroom remote devices. Smartphones connected to education apps. As clicker technology becomes more widely available, teachers’ use of clickers (devices that can collect student responses in real-time) is becoming increasingly common in both K-12 and university classrooms. While teachers use clickers across a range of subjects, authors Cui Liu et al. argue that there are common themes when it comes to the effectiveness of those clickers on student learning.
For their paper, “The Effects of Clickers with Different Teaching Strategies,” Cui Liu et al. analyzed 128 peer-reviewed articles about the use of clickers in the classroom to gain a better understanding of the types of teaching methods (using clickers) that produced positive outcomes on student learning. The authors note that thus far the majority of research on clickers has been conducted in college classrooms. The 128 papers chosen for their literature review reflect that high number, with 113 of the studies taking place in college classrooms, 6 at the secondary level, 2 at the elementary school and 7 in other types of education environments (607).
Should Students Take Notes on Laptops? Research Says ‘No’.
Given the ubiquity of mobile technologies in today’s society, many teachers are interested in incorporating devices into the classroom setting. This may be through direct use of technology in a lesson plan or by simply allowing students to take notes on laptops in class. In their paper, “The Pen Is Mightier Than the Keyboard: Advantages of Longhand Over Laptop Note Taking,” Pam A. Mueller and Daniel M. Oppenheimer note that although students believe that their use of laptops in class is beneficial overall, students on laptops are generally not on task during lectures (1159). Moreover, students who use laptops in class have decreased academic performance (due to multi-tasking and internet browsing) and actually report being less satisfied with their education than students who do not use laptops in class (1159).
In this paper, Mueller and Oppenheimer posit that, “even when distractions are controlled for, laptop use might impair performance by affecting the manner and quality of in-class note taking” (1159). In particular, laptop use has been linked to verbatim note-taking, since students can type faster than they can write (1160). Compared to students who paraphrase notes, students who type verbatim notes have poorer academic performance.