Term of Award

Spring 2012

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Curriculum Studies (Ed.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Department

Department of Curriculum, Foundations, and Reading

Committee Chair

Marlynn Griffin

Committee Member 1

Scott Beck

Committee Member 2

Sally Brown

Committee Member 3

Ming Fang He

Abstract

Students of today have grown up surrounded by an abundance of technology and teachers are faced with the challenge of integrating technology into the classroom. Along with the technological boom is the need for students to be equipped with strong literacy skills across the curriculum. The purpose of this study was to examine the use of digital literature response methods as compared to traditional writing journals in the language arts classroom and determine if one method produced better scores in the writing traits of ideas and voice. The study also explored if either method of responding to literature was more effective in motivating middle school learners to write. A mixed-method crossover design was used to gather both quantitative and qualitative data. Eighty-two students in five language arts classes participated in the study. Approximately half of the students began responding to the literature utilizing digital responses and the remaining students began by responding via traditional journal responses. After students spent six weeks using their initial method of responding, the groups switched methods of responding and spent six weeks utilizing the other method. Quantitative data were collected from Likert-scale surveys and automated essay scorer evaluations of ideas and voice. A statistically significant difference in the trait of ideas at the end of the study was found and two of ten motivation subscales showed a statistically significant difference, one at the midpoint of the study and one at the end. Qualitative data for the study were collected from modified focus group questionnaires. Eleven open-ended questions probed student attitudes regarding their interactions with both methods of responding to literature. Overall, findings were inconclusive and reported that students did not favor one method of responding over the other. The study addressed the areas of writing, technology, and the automated essay scorer as they related to the language arts classroom. This study adds to the little research in the area of digital methods of responding to literature in the middle school classroom and the use of the automated essay scorer.

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