Tag Archives: Middle school

Effectiveness: Self-regulation

Top-level category Effectiveness: Self-regulation
App Name RwR (Reflection while Reading)
App Maker Margit Gade of Denmark
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General Description This reading comprehension app provides a 5-step metacognitive heuristic for supporting/prompting student reflection while comprehending text. The 5-step heuristic begins with a declarative step (“Read a small passage”), followed by 4 questions that prompt the student to reflect in various ways on what they have just read:
1. Read a small passage
2. What did I learn?
3. Are there new words to be caught?
4. Are there any links … to what I read before? … to what I know?
5. Does anything need clarification? or Can I move on?
The purpose of the app is to provide a framework for readers to use when making sense of a passage they are learning from.
Screenshot context This screenshot shows the 2nd step in the metacognitive heuristic, which is “What did I learn?” This question prompts the reader to recapitulate what they have just learned after reading a small passage … by summarizing, synthesizing, outlining, or some other process of recollection. The page is static (i.e., no part of the image moves) and soundless (i.e., there is no audio track). The reader moves from this screen to the 3rd step in the heuristic (“ Are there new words to be caught?”) after s/he decides that they have responded sufficiently to the question.
Explanation and/or commentary This app presents a high-level heuristic for learning from/comprehending a text: the user is encouraged to ask four questions that are intended to deepen thoughtful understanding at several levels (summarization, vocabulary development, connections to prior knowledge of world and texts, clarification and comprehension monitoring). The reader can view the 5-step heuristic on one screen, or move through the steps in sequence, one at a time. No animation or audio is integral to the app. In several respects, the heuristic provides a scaffold that loosely echoes that of Reciprocal Teaching (Palincsar & Brown, 1984).

Motivation and Engagement: Intrinsic and Extrinsic Reward Related to Reading Activity

Title Motivation and engagement: Intrinsic and extrinsic reward related to reading activity
App Name Professor Garfield Fact or Opinion
App Maker Paws Incorporated, Virginia Department of Education
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General Description  This app is designed to help upper elementary and middle-school students to identify the difference between facts and opinions, particularly as they read on the Internet.
Screenshot context The instructions, although complex, present students with all of the benefits that will come from engagement with this app – helping Nermal, identifying fact vs. opinion, finishing a report, getting points and a higher grade.
Explanation and/or commentary The rewards outlined in this screenshot are consistent with self-determination theory (Ryan & Deci, 2000). Students can access both intrinsic rewards (i.e., increased competency, helping others) and extrinsic reward (i.e., getting an A.) By helping Nermal to complete his project, students gain competence and confidence in their own abilities. Given the authentic premise of this activity, students may feel a heightened sense of autonomy which has been shown to support learning and engagement (Assor, Kaplan & Roth, 2002; Guthrie, McRae & Klauda, 2007).

Effectiveness: App design imposing additional cognitive load

Title Effectiveness–App design imposing additional cognitive load
App Name Barron’s Painless Reading Comprehension Challenge
App Maker Barron’s Educational Series Inc., Mobile

Darolyn Jones for Barron’s Educational Series, http://barronseduc.stores.yahoo.net/info.html

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General Description of the App’s Intended Purpose and Audience This didactic app provides three lessons and four sets of quiz questions regarding particular aspects of reading comprehension (e.g., inferring an unfamiliar word’s meaning from context, with particular attention to appositives). The quizzes complement the 2nd edition of Darolyn Jones’s book, Painless Reading Comprehension. Jones’s nine-chapter book covers topics such as “reading for information versus reading for fun,” “reading context clues,” and “mastering multiple-choice questions.” The quizzes in the app are traditional MC format. They provide opportunities to practice a reading strategy or skill that has just been explained in a didactic expository passage.
Screenshot context This page provides an example of a MC question. The user can click on the button labeled “click to read material” to access a screen explaining what “flag words” are and providing an illustrative paragraph that uses several “flag words” or phrases such as “it should be noted that….”
Explanation and/or commentary The design of this app imposes a relatively high level of extraneous cognitive load on the user’s limited working memory (Sweller, 1994). To answer the question about the phrase “it should be noted,” for example, the user has to devote scarce working memory space to remembering the passage on the preceding screen where the phrase was used as well as the meaning of “flag words” (which he/she has presumably just learned). The user can of course jump back and forth between screens as many times as he/she wants in order to re-read text on either page. Still, a considerable body of research from the perspective of Cognitive Load Theory (CLT) and Multimedia Learning Theory (MLT) (Moreno & Mayer, 1999) suggests that this kind of back-and-forth movement does little to improve comprehension or retention of new concepts and/or information. A better design would have been to juxtapose the MC question and the illustrative paragraph on the same screen. CLT and MLT studies have shown that increasing spatial contiguity of related information improves learning (for a summary, see Mayer, 2008).