Thursday, June 23, 2016

An All-Too-Common Theme in Schools

As part of the ongoing action research I oversee for LoTi Connection and the National Business Education Alliance, I regularly review doctoral dissertation projects using the LoTi Framework. This week I reviewed a 2016 doctoral dissertation by Elcie Douce from St. John’s University entitled, "The effect of foreign language teachers' level of technology integration on students' development of higher-order thinking skills." This dissertation used the LoTi Framework for data collection purposes to generate insights into technology’s potential for elevating student cognition.

The findings revealed that (1) foreign language teachers' current technology integration level is not fostering students' Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) development and (2) foreign language teachers' perceptions of their current level of technology integration are higher than their actual levels. Unfortunately, the former finding reinforces a familiar theme that somehow the use of technology (i.e., digital resources) in and of itself holds the keys to higher levels of cognitive complexity in the classroom—a theme, by the way, that continues to perpetuate a LoTi Level 2 mindset whereby learning focuses on lower levels of cognitive processing while digital resources are used by students for extension activities, enrichment exercises, information gathering assignments, or presentations.

The latter finding is something that frequently happens whenever one is first introduced to the LoTi and/or H.E.A.T. metrics. Many teachers experience a sudden realization that the key to digital learning is not about the technology, but about dynamic ways of engaging students with personalized learning experiences that prompt them to solve problems and find authentic solutions. Dr. Douce’s results represent a wake-up call for all of us to rethink how we organize our professional development offerings so that they focus in on the learner and ways of engaging students using the available digital resources and not vice versa.