Fraenkel and Wallen (2003) describe research as "a desire to find out how and why things happen, including why people do the things they do, as well as whether or not certain ways of doing things work better than other ways" (p. 7).
The ITMA program has offered me numerous opportunities to conduct research. In Digital Audio, I discussed a review of research by Tripp & Roby (1996) and selected an article by Crigler, Just & Newman (1994). I experimented with different audio types and learned about their functions, which enabled me to discover the advantages and disadvantages of different types of audio based upon the variables of time required to download, fidelity of sound, player and file compatibility, and the ease with which players accommodate certain needs. I also had the opportunity to research different types of digital audio editors. Much of what I learned in digital audio was useful to me later in Project and Report when I created a professional development program designed to help teachers learn to make and use websites and podcasts. I was able to pass along some of my research on compression methods and streaming audio on websites.
In Educational Research, I learned about different types of research and aspects of research, such as instrument validity. In addition, I had the opportunity to critique articles and studies. Some artifacts I've included are an examination of instrument validity, a discussion of a study examining whether or not color-coding had an effect on student achievement, a critique of a study by Thomas & Moore (1988-89), a critique of a journal article by Jung-Won and Brush (2009) about teacher participation in online communities, an examination of different types of studies, and a research report on collaborative learning groups in online Web 2.0 environments. Educational research is an area in which I had little background prior to taking this course. Because I'm interested in collaborative learning groups, I was interested to learn what research had been conducted into its efficacy. I was surprised to learn not much quantitative research had been done, especially as so many teachers seem to be adopting online collaborative groups as a teaching method. In addition, the qualitative research conducted thus far is mixed. More research needs to be done to determine whether students are more engaged in collaborative learning when they use online Web 2.0 tools.
Learning Theories was one of my favorite classes because I am interested in how the brain works and how people learn. I learned a great deal about myself and my students in Learning Theories, and I know that it has made me a better teacher. In my first learning activity for this course, Introduction to Educational Psychology, I conducted some research to determine whether or not there was a correlation between the number of books people owned and the hours of television they watched. I was surprised to learn the two are not related. I had expected to see people who owned more books watching less television. Learning Theories helped me understand my students' developmental levels and motivation, which has made me a much better teacher. I took Educational Psychology as an undergraduate student, but this course was an excellent refresher. Learning about the theories of Vygotsky, Erickson, Piaget, and others prepared me to be a teacher researcher. I conduct research on my own students to determine how best to teach them. In addition, Learning Theories was also helpful for conducting learner analyses, a part of the instructional design process.