AR Focus Statement
Budget cuts and time constraints resulting from standardized testing are both factors in the rapidly diminishing number of field trips that students take each year. The purpose of my action research is to solve this problem by creating meaningful virtual field trips that give students many of the same benefits as the missing trips.
The target audience is a general education class of twenty-two elementary students from a 4th/5th grade combination class. The students form an evenly mixed heterogeneous group in almost every way except for socio-economic status which is predominately very low. Most of the planned activity will take place in the school’s computer lab. The computers are set into small individual cubicles that are not ideal for small group collaboration but it does work.
The goal for my action research project is to create virtual field trips that can offer many of the real world experiences that might otherwise be lost.
The participants will interface with the virtual field trip using the 35 Dell computers in the school’s five year old lab. Additionally, most of the pre-trip and post-trip digital activities will take place in the classroom using the SMART Board and the three old Dell desktops.
The role of the target audience is participatory and exploratory. They will be interacting with the virtual field trip that should guide them through the learning experience. Several components of the virtual field trip give the students the freedom to explore and report on what they find while exploring.
The roll of the action researcher is to create the virtual field trip and all of the related media and data collection material. On the day of the virtual field trip I will also act as a guide and trouble shooter. The media is designed to lead the students which will free me to focus on being a silent facilitator.
The plan being implemented can be broken up into three sections: virtual field trip creation, implementation, and reflection. During the creation phase I will be using iMovie, Garageband and iWeb to create and house my VTF assets. The trip will be built to lead students through many web-based versions of real world destinations. These will need to be scouted during the creation stage. During the implementation stage, the VFT will be a several hour event during a single day using the classroom and the computer lab. Students will be engaged with the material and each other during the collaborative fact finding mission they are completing. When the VFT event is over, the participants will begin reflection and assessment activities that will be designed to gather formative and summative data that can be used to evaluate the activity. This plan will be run two times. The first destination will be St. Augustine and the second will be Washington DC.
The main assessment tool that I will be using to collect data for the project will be a content test that students will take before and after the virtual field trip. I will review this data after that virtual field trips to assess their usefulness content delivery systems. Additionally I plan to collect formative data from the participants at the end of the VFT so that their feedback can streamline future cycles.
The summative data collected will be quantifiable and could be used to show how effective the VFTs were. The formative data collected will be qualitative in nature and will allow the participants to share their likes and dislikes from the experience directly with the curriculum designer.