From each of the four classes, the researcher will randomly select 5 students to undertake the CSCL tool teaching method, this will ensure that the students are selected without any conscious or unconscious prejudices. These students (20 from the four classes) will form Group A. The rest of the students (Group B) will be taught using existing teaching methods used by the school for teaching the subject. In the event that more time is required to gather more conclusive data, the researcher will extend the study to the second semester. Before the commencement of the study, both groups will undergo a pre-study test and questionnaire to determine the level of their competency in history, level of critical thinking skills and attitude towards history. The researcher will grade the test using a marking scheme. The marking scheme has incorporated different levels of answers which correlate to the level of critical thinking expressed by students. This will be repeated after the study with a different set of questions but with the same level of difficulty for the two groups and a comparison study between the two sets of data will be conducted.
Before the commencement of the research, a familiarization session with the CSCL tool will be provided for Group A students. The researcher will give the students a user's guide, which detail the training, introduce the most common screens and features of the platform.
Throughout the semester, the researcher will observe students during their classes. The researcher will take notes pertaining to the following:
Students' behaviors during the study of the history
Interest level of the two groups when attending history lessons.
How well students absorb history knowledge over the span of one semester
How students express their critical thinking skills over the span of one semester.
The researcher's observations will supplement the data gathered from the pre and post-study questionnaires and tests.
Group A will complete CSCL online assignments as part of their curriculum. The researcher will design the online assignment in accordance with the school's history curriculum. These CSCL exercises will take place online (synchronously) using Groove software. All collaboration sessions of the students will be electronically recorded and these transcripts will be used to help teachers in the assessment process for all collaborative projects that the students produce. The student-computer ration will be one student to one computer. Students will not depend entirely on the tool. The researcher will guide students in the discussion. With the presence of computers in class, the researcher may opt to vary the method of teaching by letting these students be exposed to various historical places, events and people that can be shown on the computer. Also, instead of quizzes that are traditionally written on paper, quizzes and exams will now be taken using the computer as well as essay type questions that will actually challenge them to think critically about issues. Another means of developing critical thinking among these students is to provide them questions about some current issues in the country or society that needs to be addressed. These issues may not be very familiar to students, so they will be given ample time to research for meaningful and helpful information to assist them in answering the questions. The research of information can be done using computers which are connected to the World Wide Web. This will provide students with information in a faster manner, so that they can compose their answers and present them to the class during that same time when the question was given to them. Each student is to answer a different issue so that there will be no duplication of researched information and that everyone will be better informed about various happenings around them.
In a CSCL environment, students can easily collaborate with one another as they learn. The teacher's role when monitoring the collaboration is essential to keep the collaborative discussion "on track." By guiding students in their online discussions, the researcher can ensure that all students participate constructively and teacher moderated discussions will ensure that all students participate equally, thus eliminating domination by any individual. Good collaboration among students should enhance their knowledge of the subject and positively influence their attitude toward history.
The researcher will develop the additional elements to the history curriculum and assessment practices for the online collaboration project of Group A. Part of this preparation will occur during the semester prior to the implementation of the study while the remainder will occur during the study itself.
Schedule for the research
Assessment of the CSCL learning will be through usage of AskNLearn platform, which permits any number of users to collaborate in real-time, online. This design provides all the necessary tools for successful collaboration such as chat, file-sharing, private chat, document review and voice communications, a shared calendar, a web links tool, email and an outline tool. These tools are of the nature that they can be used simultaneously by students and with continuous updates for each of the study participants to make any changes. The pre -- and post-study surveys will include questions pertaining to the student's enjoyment of studying history and enquire if history tends to make the student think critically.
In the month of February to March 2009, the researcher drew lots for each of the four secondary one Normal class to randomly select five students and group them into Group A (a total of twenty students will be using CSCL tool), the online forum by AsknLearn and the remaining students from the four classes formed Group B. The pre-study test was administered to the four classes to determine their level of historical knowledge and critical thinking skills. Each group was given an access to a designated computer for this study to enable them to access the online forum and to the internet. The CSCL teaching method was used to teach the class for four weeks. Each session lasted for 1 hour and 30 minutes. There were two sessions each week for a total of eight sessions. The researcher facilitated and monitored the group discussion to ensure that the students were on the right track. The history topics identified for discussion for this study were "The First Emperor of China" and "The Caste and Class system." The online discussion was done in the form of a debate. This method was used because the basis of this study is that critical thinking skills can be developed using CSCL tool through augmentation. The discussion thread was tracked and archived.
In April 2009, the researcher administered the post-study test and questionnaire to both Group A and B. students. The purpose was to determine whether there was any significant change in critical thinking, knowledge of the selected history topics and their attitudes towards the study of history, where Group A was compared with Group B, which did not have the benefit of using the CSCL tool.
The evaluation of the collated data was done in May 2009. The researcher analyzed the data and determined the effects of the CSCL tool on history learning, critical thinking skills and attitude towards history. The findings and lesson learnt from this study will help to advance the teaching of history in terms of developing critical thinking skills, using CSCL tools and students' attitude towards history.
Pre- and Post-Study Questionnaire Responses for Group A (n=20)
Reponses to this question in the post-questionnaire study shows findings that approximately 69% of the study participants enjoy the study of history following this study through the use of CSCL tools whereas the study participants stated in the pre-questionnaire study that only 65% agree that they enjoy the study of history. 49% of the participants stated that the study of history tends to make them think critically whereas in the pre-questionnaire study 75% of participants in Group A stated that the study of history did not tend to make them think critically. When asked in the pre-study questionnaire if the study of history is found to be boring 88% stated that the study of history was boring however when asked the same question in the post-study questionnaire only 65% of the participants stated that they were bored by the study of history. When asked about the method students used to study history 95% of Group A participants stated in the pre-study questionnaire that it was through 'rote memory' while in the post-study questionnaire, responses in Group A were equally divided, with 50% stating that 'rote memory' had been used in the study of history while the other 50% stated that 'understanding the perspective' had led to the study of history. When Group A was asked in the pre-study questionnaire if history class revolved around group discussions, only 69% agreed with this statement while in the post-study questionnaire, 75% of Group A agreed that study of history in class revolved around group discussion.
It is very interesting to note the findings in question six as in the pre-study questionnaire, 97% of Group A participants stated that they had…