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Using Technology in Helping Students Achieve 21st Century Skills: A Pilot Study

Date: February, 2008
Author: David L. Silvernail, Dorothy Small, Leanne Walker, Richard L. Wilson, Sarah E. Wintle
Affiliation: Center for Education Policy, Applied Research, and Evaluation, University of Southern Maine
Keywords: Assessment, Evaluation



As we enter the 21st Century there is a great deal of discussion in business and education circles alike about the type of skills our youth will need to survive and thrive in this century. At the same time, there is little known today about the level of 21st Century skills students currently have. In part this is because, as a nation, we are still in the process of articulating the specific skills needed, and in part it is because too little systemic examination of existing skill levels has been undertaken. Educational Testing Service (ETS) has begun to address this issue by developing a 75-minute scenario-based test to measure high school senior and college freshmen students' Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Literacy skills; skills defined by ETS as, "the ability of post -secondary students to: define, access, manage, integrate, evaluate, create, and communicate information in a technological environment," (http://thejournal.com/articles/17084). During the spring of 2006, ETS offered high schools and universities across the country the opportunity to take an early version of the assessment. One of those high schools was Skowhegan Area High School (SAHS) in Maine School Administrative District #54 (MSAD #54) . A total of 279 students (70 ninth graders, 26 tenth graders, 162 twelfth graders and 21 "others") took the ETS Early 2006 Administration Core Level test along with 658 high school seniors from eight other high schools across the country. An additional 2,559 college students at various universities also took the ICT exam.

Goals of the Project:

The primary goal of this collaborative project between MSAD #54 and CEPARE was to create a model/process to help students in 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th grades learn how to evaluate electronic/digital resources within the context of authentic learning activities. The team set the following guidelines for the project:

1. Input to the project should be as broad as possible and include expertise from teachers, administrators, technology integrationists as well as curriculum specialists.

2. Materials developed (the "intervention") should be designed for use by classroom teachers and be integrated into the existing curriculum.

3. Teachers participating in the project should receive a small stipend for the extra work required in conducting the study (collecting student data, providing researchers with feedback and documentation, attending meetings). The team set a time frame to conduct the pilot project/research with students during April and May of 2007. The intervening time between November 2006 and April 2007 was used to develop a project plan, create materials for the intervention, create teacher and student interview guides, and to develop assessment tools. A more detailed project task list and timeline appears in

Source Article: http://maine.gov/mlti/resources/Using_Technology_in_Helping_Students_Achieve_21st_Century_Skills.pdf