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Daniel Downs: Student Experiences In A Project Based Learning Technology Curriculum At A Suburban High School
 

Daniel Downs: Student Experiences In A Project Based Learning Technology Curriculum At A Suburban High School

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The purpose of this qualitative study was to understand the group dynamic in PBL task delegation and technology skill fluency through the language of its participants. The researcher collected ...

The purpose of this qualitative study was to understand the group dynamic in PBL task delegation and technology skill fluency through the language of its participants. The researcher collected themes, experiences, and decisions depicted in the language of high school students as they negotiated a final project using computer technology tools to create mobile applications for their high school community.
Often in groups, teachers are not always part of the exchange of learning and necessary communication between students to complete tasks and negotiate ideas. This research assists teachers in developing strategies to better organize and guide groups in a PBL curriculum with technology so students can more effectively address the needs of projects independently.
In this research, the PBL curriculum promoted conversation and communication for delegated tasks amongst students and developing a sense of familiarity and cohesiveness in student centered groups. Scenarios which required the management of group members to complete the tasks required in the project were also prevalent. Group members shared critical vocabulary related to technology and the process of the project. Additional benefits included group approaches with the consideration of continually improving the project and also an increased awareness and appreciation for the technology used in the project.
The final mobile applications of the groups represent the combination of group process, technology, and addressing the authentic question in the PBL curriculum. Students were able to develop authentic projects which were the results of a variety of technology based skills, project management and conceptualization.

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    Daniel Downs: Student Experiences In A Project Based Learning Technology Curriculum At A Suburban High School Daniel Downs: Student Experiences In A Project Based Learning Technology Curriculum At A Suburban High School Document Transcript

    • STUDENT EXPERIENCES IN A PROJECT-BASED LEARNING TECHNOLOGY CURRICULUM AT A SUBURBAN HIGH SCHOOL A Doctoral Dissertation Research Submitted to the Faculty of Argosy University, Sarasota College of Education In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Education By Daniel M. Downs Argosy University, Sarasota January, 2013
    • ii   STUDENT EXPERIENCES IN A PROJECT-BASED LEARNING TECHNOLOGY CURRICULUM AT A SUBURBAN HIGH SCHOOL Copyright ©2013 Daniel M. Downs All rights reserved
    • iv   STUDENT EXPERIENCES IN A PROJECT-BASED LEARNING TECHNOLOGY CURRICULUM AT A SUBURBAN HIGH SCHOOL Abstract of Doctoral Dissertation Research Submitted to the Faculty of Argosy University, Sarasota College of Education In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Education By Daniel M. Downs Argosy University, Sarasota January, 2013 Sharon D. Jackson, Ed.D, Chair Rosine M. Dougherty, Ed.D, Member Department: College of Education
    • v   ABSTRACT The purpose of this qualitative study was to understand the group dynamic in PBL task delegation and technology skill fluency through the language of its participants. The researcher collected themes, experiences, and decisions depicted in the language of high school students as they negotiated a final project using computer technology tools to create mobile applications for their high school community. Often in groups, teachers are not always part of the exchange of learning and necessary communication between students to complete tasks and negotiate ideas. This research assists teachers in developing strategies to better organize and guide groups in a PBL curriculum with technology so students can more effectively address the needs of projects independently. In this research, the PBL curriculum promoted conversation and communication for delegated tasks amongst students and developing a sense of familiarity and cohesiveness in student centered groups. Scenarios which required the management of group members to complete the tasks required in the project were also prevalent. Group members shared critical vocabulary related to technology and the process of the project. Additional benefits included group approaches with the consideration of continually improving the project and also an increased awareness and appreciation for the technology used in the project. The final mobile applications of the groups represent the combination of group process, technology, and addressing the authentic question in the PBL curriculum. Students were able to develop authentic projects which were the results of a variety of technology based skills, project management and conceptualization.
    • vi   ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I would never have been able to finish my dissertation without the guidance of my committee members, help from friends, and support from my family and wife. I would like to express my deepest gratitude to my advisor, Dr. Sharon Jackson, for her excellent guidance, caring and patience during my research. I would also like to thank Dr. Dougherty for helping guide my research and provoking new insights into the Project Based learning technology curriculum. I would also like to thank Anna Maria Schrimpf for providing me with professional mentorship during the course of my studies and Dr. Thomas Gwin for his support for Project Based Learning with technology curriculum in his school. A special thanks to Dr. Marc Kerble for sharing his experience and professional advice during my doctoral study. I would also like to thank my parents, as they have always been supportive in my endeavors in education. Finally, I would like to thank my wife, Shachenka, and son Dylan for their endless patience in this process.
    • vii   DEDICATION I dedicate this dissertation to my son Dylan, whose smile helped motivate me in the toughest days. I hope he keeps his imagination sacred as he makes his way in this world.
    • viii   TABLE OF CONTENTS Page TABLE OF FIGURES.........................................................................................................x TABLE OF APPENDICES ............................................................................................... xi CHAPTER ONE: THE PROBLEM AND ITS COMPONENTS 1 Introduction 1 Constructivist Approaches 2 Multimedia Hypermedia Classroom Environment 4 Authentic Assessment 5 Purpose of the Study 7 Statement of Problem 9 Research Questions 10 Limitations and Delimitations 10 Definition of Terms 12 Significance of Study 16 Study Overview 16 Chapter Summary 17 CHAPTER TWO: REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE 19 Project Based Learning’s Role with Instruction and Multimedia Instruction 19 Social Learning 22 Integration of Multimedia Tools 23 Barriers 24 Constructivist Approaches with Multimedia 25 Significance 26 Student Perceptions 27 Authentic Learning 29 Implementation and Approaches 31 CHAPTER THREE: METHODOLOGY 34 Research Design 35 Sampling Procedures 36 Data Collection Methods 37 Methodological Assumptions & Limitations 40 Analysis 44 Summary 46 CHAPTER FOUR: FINDINGS.........................................................................................49 Introduction........................................................................................................................49 Population Description.......................................................................................................50 Collection of Data and Data Analysis................................................................................50
    • ix   Collection of Data..........................................................................................................50 Project Artifacts .............................................................................................................51 Findings and Results..........................................................................................................52 Design Strategies ...........................................................................................................52 Project Conceptualization..............................................................................................52 Problem Solving.................................................................................................................54 Visual Approaches.........................................................................................................55 Technology Integration .................................................................................................56 Communication Trends......................................................................................................57 Management Language..................................................................................................58 Task Language...............................................................................................................59 Collaboration......................................................................................................................60 Technology ........................................................................................................................61 Learning Behaviors............................................................................................................63 Cohesiveness..................................................................................................................63 Group Learning Challenges...........................................................................................64 Project Challenges .............................................................................................................65 Technology Learning.....................................................................................................65 Time Management .........................................................................................................66 Role Development .............................................................................................................67 Task Based Roles...........................................................................................................67 Leadership Roles............................................................................................................69 Evaluating Final Projects...................................................................................................70 Authentic Rubric.............................................................................................................70 Problem Solving..............................................................................................................70 Task Factors....................................................................................................................71 Indicators of Success..........................................................................................................72 Overall Themes of Study ...................................................................................................73 Summary............................................................................................................................74 CHAPTER FIVE: SUMMARY, CONCLUSIONS, AND RECOMMENDATIONS ......76 Summary............................................................................................................................76 Discussion of Results.........................................................................................................79 Implications of Study.........................................................................................................91 Implications for Educators.............................................................................................91 Implications for Technology Teachers ..........................................................................96 Implications for Students...............................................................................................98 Limitations.......................................................................................................................100 Recommendations............................................................................................................101 Recommendations for Further Research......................................................................101 Conclusions......................................................................................................................103 REFERENCES ................................................................................................................107
    • x   APPENDICES 112
    • xi   TABLE OF FIGURES Figure Page 1. Group 1 Planning and Layout......................................................................................122 2. Group 2 Planning and Layout......................................................................................123 3. Group 3 Planning and Layout......................................................................................124 4. Group 4 Planning and Layout......................................................................................125 5. Learning Journal Words...............................................................................................127 6. Group 1 Learning Journal Word Query.......................................................................129 7. Group 2 Learning Journal Word Query.......................................................................129 8. Group 3 Learning Journal Word Query.......................................................................130 9. Group 4 Learning Journal Word Query.......................................................................130 10. Group 1 Audio Word Query ......................................................................................134 11. Group 2 Audio Word Query ......................................................................................134 12. Group 3 and 4 Audio Word Query ............................................................................135
    • xii   TABLE OF APPENDICES Appendix Page A. Principal Access Request...........................................................................................113 B. Parent Permission Request.........................................................................................115 C. Authentic Rubric ........................................................................................................118 D. Group Planning and Layouts......................................................................................121 E. Learning Journal Words .............................................................................................126 F. Learning Journal Word Queries..................................................................................128 G. Audio Transcription Words .......................................................................................131 H. Audio Word Queries..................................................................................................133 I. Groups 1-4 Presentation Video Links .........................................................................136
    • 1   CHAPTER ONE: THE PROBLEM AND ITS COMPONENTS Introduction The instructional model Project Based Learning (PBL) engages students in learning knowledge and skills through an extended inquiry process. Markham, Larmer and Ravit’s (2003) study described the process as structured around authentic questions and carefully designed products and tasks. These projects and authentic assessments validate the collaborative process of an engaged group working towards a final presentation. The language that students use in this interaction drives the exchange of information to complete critical tasks on the way to completion of final products such as written products, portfolios, checklists, teacher observations, and group projects (Olfos & Zulantay, 2007). PBL approaches used in teaching multimedia projects suggest that the project be guided by a driving question in which the research allows students to apply their acquired knowledge (Bell, 2010). It is the driving question which initiates communication and a team approach necessary to solving the central problems in the creation of a project in PBL curriculum. PBL curriculum inquiry process, while using technology and multimedia software tools, relies heavily upon the participant’s use of language to learn and collaborate. Students working and communicating effectively in groups to create multimedia projects defines an exciting question driven construct of PBL. PBL curriculum is dependent on the ability of individuals to show teamwork, communication, collaboration and increased fluency in key skill areas (Kramer, Walker & Brill, 2007). The final product, cumulative presentation or performance of students for proper assessment, depends on the quality and effectiveness of student communication
    • 2   and interaction with one another. “Project based learning is rooted in the idea that a problem or question drives learning activities toward the construction of a concrete artifact in an authentic context” (Papanikolaou & Boubouka, 2010, p. 135). To gain a better understanding of the process of this curriculum, it is important to understand the language between its participants during the process of project development, acquisition of critical skills, and the presentation of the final project. Constructivist Approaches Group learning while integrating technology in a PBL environment engages students in multiple forms of communication. According to Vygotsky (1990): Through conversational language used in a social context the emerging patterns are negotiated into meaning and the construct of the “zone of proximal development” is bridged via deeper learning. So, learning occurs through joint problem-solving between partners and social interaction. Dependence on group communication and exchange of ideas plays a large role in the construct of project based learning. The reliance on individuals to work in groups, to share ideas, and create with technology will facilitate learning. Capturing the language during this process will reveal communication and language trends critical to better understanding of student learning. PBL curriculum has a strong component of group construct and promotes more enriching learning experiences. Students can focus on the development of their fluency and skills with the collaborative use of technology tools. Curtis & Lawson (2001) found the following: The collaborative learning process allows students to construct a scaffold for critical thinking and provides immediacy of feedback in which peers give and receive help, exchange resources and information, give and receive feedback, challenge and encourage each other and jointly reflect on progress and process. (p. 21)
    • 3   Student learning in collaborative environments using technology enabled them to share skills and organize group tasks on their way to completing project based assignments. The language students used and the interactions they encountered in the project based learning environment with technology defined and differentiated their experiences. Students were engrossed in learning with a high level of accountability within their group and created projects which can be relevant in a real world context. Bell (2010) found the following: The group dynamic creates an interdependence in which students must each do their part, and as a result, a natural consequence exists for those students who do not demonstrate accountability—others may no longer want to be paired with students who do not do their fair share. (p. 40) This dynamic becomes an important component to evaluate and discover the inner workings and directions of these groups. The language used during this dynamic and the corresponding work trends will be insightful to its effect on the group structure. Group learning is facilitated by the successful completion of the project tasks and the application of the technology. According to Jonassen, Howland, Moore, and Marra (2003), “for constructivists, knowledge is socially constructed through structured interaction and collaboration around meaningful tasks” (p. 152). In a group learning environment, intercommunication between participants will be critical to students sharing and retaining information. This research focused on language used by students in the successful delegation, prioritization and fluency of technology skills during a project based multi/hypermedia project. This research disseminates the meaningful learning gained from students managing their own learning through meta-cognitive, self-reflective and collaborative processes (Vale, Weaven, Davies & Hooley, 2007).
    • 4   Multimedia Hypermedia Classroom Environment Academic curriculum designed with multi and hypermedia creation skills focuses on students’ ability to work collaboratively with multiple forms of technology. Students should become active participants in their learning process and construct new knowledge by thinking critically and while using multiple types of information (Neo & Neo, 2010). PBL strategies such as driving questions, collaboration and final presentations within the multimedia/hypermedia curriculum will enable students to learn relevant real world skills (Frank & Barzilai, 2004). According to Devaney (2008), information media and technology skills are viewed as critical needs for future employment in the global economy. These skills are central as starting points for developing and implementing curriculum that will help students gain beneficial aptitudes that will prepare them for career and work-related experiences. As described by Steelman, Grable, and Vasu (2005): Multimedia projects provide a vehicle for students to use technology in an authentic context and to create an expression of acquired knowledge. Students, by constructing their own knowledge through a complex combination of experiences, resources, and tools, use digital multimedia projects as process and product to demonstrate what they have learned. (p. 1) A set of computer technology based tools and skills (HTML/CSS/Actionscript 3.0 languages, web based collaborative tools, media creation software suites) are embedded into the curriculum model of project based learning research using authentic assessment. These tools enabled students to create, collaborate and present an authentic learning product. Students were challenged to collaboratively manage projects according to necessary skills and fluency with computer technology. As noted by Bell (2010), the
    • 5   future workplace environment will be a place in which workers will be judged on their performance and evaluated not only on their outcomes but their collaboration, negotiation, planning and organization. Tools available to students enabled them to work in small groups in class at personal desktop computers with all the necessary software for media creation. Students were also be able to present their projects to small or larger groups, post them to the web, or upload them to mobile devices or servers for sharing. The multimedia authoring tools became a vehicle for students to create and present information in such a way that allows the students to analyze and synthesize their learned experiences (Steelman et al., 2005). Authentic Assessment Authenticity in the assessment of student projects in the PBL curriculum using technology was driven by a driving question which will replicate a possible real world scenario. The assessment of students’ work was based within the understanding of the real world experiences and achievement (Archibald & Newmann, 1988 cited in Burton, 2011). The descriptive questions drove project development and replicated real-world scenarios. Herrington and Herrington (1998; 2006) defined four major groups related to authentic assessment: context, student factors, task factors and indicators. Each of these factors is a point of evaluation in the final cumulative project of students in the technology course in a PBL curriculum. The context of the groups’ projects will emphasize the challenge of real world questions. Students must have the ability to work within the curriculum and technology based environment to make connections to realistic project outcomes. The projects that
    • 6   students create should emphasize the context of the conditions in which students completed the tasks, how their skills can relate to real world instances and make a connection which blends the classroom understandings to real world instances (Herrington & Herrington, 1998; 2006). Student factors in the authentic assessment of PBL curriculum with technology include problem-solving skills, higher order thinking, the production of knowledge rather than the reproduction of knowledge, significant student time, collaboration, effective performers, polished products and depth of knowledge (Herrington & Herrington, 1998; 2006). The assessment of these skills provide deeper insight and understanding to how students respond to the authenticity of the problem and the fluency of their collaboration with the technology tools. The final projects and skills used to produce them show the integration of these skills in the process of addressing the problem and the results of their group work. Task factors include the wide range of responses to the central authentic question, the complexity in which students answered and solved the components to the question, the addressing of the multiple steps necessary to complete their project, and how the groups integrated forms of assessment were satisfied (Herrington & Herrington, 1998; 2006). Indicators of success in the authentic assessment of the projects are a groups’ ability to create a valid and reliable product which addresses the needs of the question. Other indicators include specific technology based skills shown in the final product. The final project was judged on its validity, reliability and technology components. With authentic assessments, students were provided opportunities to address real world
    • 7   problems while completing tasks. Students constructed real world connections between the curriculum and outcomes (Herrington & Herrington, 1998; 2006). Authentic assessment pushes curriculum to align with the skill needs necessary and to ask important questions of the participants involved. Students used technology to connect to learning opportunities and the more authentic application of technology. Using authentic tasks requires complex thought and allows time for exploration (Vale et al., 2007). As a result, new areas to develop authentic assessments will be developed to determine the students’ level of real world context acquisitions. Assessing students in this way provides a realistic approach to instructing in real world scenarios and prepares learners to address the range of problems and necessary skills to complete tasks successfully. Purpose of the Study The purpose of this study was to understand the group dynamic in PBL task delegation and technology skill fluency through the language of its participants. The themes, experiences, and decisions depicted in the language of students as they negotiated a final project using computer technology tools benefits teachers in understanding the transfer of knowledge and shared skills between students and will also assist in the organizing of groups and content for productive PBL environments. Often in groups, teachers are not always part of the exchange of learning and necessary communication between students to complete tasks and negotiate ideas. This research assists teachers in developing strategies to better organize and guide groups in a PBL curriculum so students can more effectively address the needs of projects
    • 8   independently. The research also assists in the identification of the different roles students take within the group and how these roles influence the final projects. Project based learning with technology in this research is defined as high school aged students’ working on a collaborative, independent, self-motivated project using technology. According to Bell (2010), technology is highly engaging to students because it will tap into their fluency with computers. The students’ fluency with technology tools and their success in real world contexts is indicated in the authentic learning environment. This research provides student descriptions of their adaptability to this environment and process of learning within their groups and will help educators better structure the integration of technology tools into the classroom. Student experiences with multimedia based curriculum will help structure the development of new curriculum using these tools by providing rich descriptions of student experiences and learning goals. Jones, Ramussen and Moffitt (1997) stated in their study, “Project-Based Learning is a systematic teaching method that engages students in learning knowledge and skills through an extended inquiry process structured around complex, authentic questions and carefully designed products and tasks” (p. 26). In this research, students self-direct their projects and use resources and tools collaboratively. This approach also includes collaboration and relies heavily on student communication. Learning is transferred by the group process and needs of the project. This research examines the students’ process of inquiry into their projects by capturing their verbal commands, choices and selections of delegated tasks. This information assists teachers in creating better approaches to guiding students who are working collaboratively. Insight into the workflow of the groups’ normal workflow will help prevent unnecessary teacher
    • 9   interruptions during group work and improve shared learning experiences by better utilizing group knowledge resources. Statement of the Problem The problem for guiding students in a PBL curriculum is the teacher’s lack of knowledge about the sharing of ideas, concepts and strategies within a group as they negotiate a problem without direct supervision. Teachers in PBL curriculums using technology must directly teach real world applications of hypermedia and multimedia tools while students work collaboratively on projects. PBL projects with technology rely on the students ability to share and adapt technology skills to projects on higher cognitive levels in order to address questions related to a cumulative project based on an authentic question. Teachers cannot be central to this process but must always find new ways to guide and instruct according to the variety of needs of each group. Students must develop an independent fluency with technology tools and have opportunities to grow and build skills away from direct instruction of the teacher in the community of the group. Students should share their skills collaboratively in groups and apply shared ideas and presentation strategies to gain the best results in final projects. This is the ideal, but as projects evolve the end results are not always consistent. To best address this dynamic, teachers need to be prepared in a variety of different ways to foster the collaboration, sharing and deep integration of tools into the design of final projects. This research helps address this preparation and also the necessary strategies to help identify issues in the process of PBL with technology. The research also addresses the problems teachers face in addressing collaboration strategies, sharing of information, acquisition of skills and student process.
    • 10   Research Questions The following research questions guided this study: 1. What are the benefits of a Project Based Learning curriculum in group projects using technology? 2. How does Project Based Learning curriculum encourage the group dynamics of learning collaboratively with technology? 3. How does Project Based Learning curriculum promote conversations and communication amongst students as they delegate tasks? 4. What outcomes will emerge as a result of students’ participation in a Project Based Learning Technology curriculum? Limitations and Delimitations This research had several major limitations due to the location and context of the research environment. The first limitation was the age of the participants in the class. Students ranged in ages 15-18 and choosing to take the course based on availability in their schedule and personal interests. The ability of the students was also a limitation in this study. Students represent a diversity of technology skills and academic strengths. This influence in the research also presented the limitation of students’ ability to complete final projects in the specified time range. The influence of the students’ schedule and other academic demands made on the students in the course of a typical school day was a limitation of this study. Students may have been burdened by outside work pressures, extracurricular activities and academic workload. This may have influenced the collection of qualitative data in written or audio
    • 11   form due to the students’ energy level or focus. The single classroom environment, even though rich in its transcribed audio data from the working groups, was not diverse in terms of ethnicity or socio-economic backgrounds. Delimitations Assuming the concurrent roles of teacher and researcher was a major delimitation in this study. Practicing both roles can cause bias since reflections of success and failures are revealed in this study. This limitation is countered with the student participants understanding that their assessment was made by an outside assessor qualified to assess the projects based on a defined rubric. Delimitation in this study was the length of the research data collection period of four weeks. This delimitation allowed proper data collection in all phases in the context of the classroom. Four weeks of data collection allowed collaboration time, skill development and creation of final projects. This period of data collection may not reflect all of the possible variations in a PBL curriculum which may arise such as extended skill lessons or longer collaboration periods. Further, the methods of data collection in this research represent another delimitation. This research used audio from group work periods, writing from learning journals, final project outcomes and observations. These sources of data demonstrate the wide range necessary to reflect the context of the research and to develop insightful data. Another delimitation of this research was the size of the group participants. There were 18 students divided into four groups of four to five students. Since the sample size is so small, it would not be realistic to generalize this study to other populations.
    • 12   Definition of Terms The following terms will be addressed in this study: 21st Century Skills: The education skills deemed necessary to be successful in the 21st century global workforce. The skills include students’ ability to collaborate, communicate and negotiate (Bell, 2010). These skills also include a commitment to embedding technology in the curriculum and continual reformation of assessment models for these new skills (Rotherham & Willingham, 2009). Android Device: A variety of electronic devices that operate using android operating systems; these devices include phones, televisions, watches and tablets (Petrovan, 2012). .APK: File format used to distribute and install software (usually games or applications) on the Android operating system. Downloading the .APK allows users to install programs without needing access to sites like Google Play [or AndroidPIT] (Blum, 2012). Authentic Learning Experiences: Authentic learning asks participants to actively perform and learn in contexts that relate directly to the environments existing in real world settings (Olfos & Zulantay, 2007). Authentic learning experiences include student learning which ties the skills learned in the learning environments with the anticipated skills needed in the work force. Authentic learning ties directly to a performance assessment on the skills gained during the learning. Click Stream: The process of interaction of a user with a websites interface content. An analysis of this activity indicates how users navigate the content and potential visits to different pages (Silvestron, 2013).
    • 13   Communication Styles: Indicate choices of language or participation in verbal or nonverbal components of collaboration. The variety of language and approaches used by students will assist in adding knowledge and skills in the collaborative discussion phases of project development. Students’ use of their “critical voice” should be a dominant component of the constructivist learning environment while communicating (Sultan et al., 2011). The critical voice will offer extensive opportunities for students to critically judge their learning environments and enable individual decisions away from the teacher’s guidance. The “critical voice” will direct individual students’ style of communication and enable critical thinking and direction within the group (Sultan et al., 2011). Collaborative Learning Techniques: Approaches students and teachers will take in placing participants together to complete final project goals. Small group work based in specific content areas or assigning of group leaders to manage workloads. The benefits of collaborative practice include: ethical practice, knowledge in practice, frameworks of learning, team structures and processes, inter-professional working, collaboration and communication, sharing of knowledge, and reflection. The benefits of collaborative practice will lend itself to help define core domains of competence (Suter, Arndt, Arthur, Parboosingh, Taylor, & Deutschlander, 2009). Constructivist Theories: According to Gazi (2009, p. 2), “Constructivist pedagogy enables students to manage their own learning through meta-cognitive, self- reflective, and collaborative processes.” The diversity of the groups learning is dependent on the transfer of information between participants collaborating.
    • 14   Flash: Defines multimedia software that uses Actionscript Languages and FLV video. Software uses timeline setup to create animations with vector graphics (Jun, Zu- Yuan, & Yuren, 2009). Icon Graphic: Graphic that represents an application. Launcher icons are used by Launcher applications and appear on the user’s Home screen. Launcher icons can also represent shortcuts into an application [for example, a contact shortcut icon that opens detailed information for a contact] (Launcher Icons/Android Developers, n.d). Learning Styles: For the purpose of this research, “learning style” will be the idea of how individuals have preferences for taking in, analyzing and synthesizing information. Researcher anticipated that learners in this study would have preferences to group constructs (collaborative or independent thinking approaches) and how to organize and present particular components of the project (Hardaker, Dockery, & Sabki, 2010). Mobile Applications (used interchangeably with “app”): Computer software designed to help the user perform singular or multiple related tasks. The software is loaded onto a variety of mobile devices such as phones, tablets, readers (Franklin, 2011). Multimedia/Hypermedia Technology Classroom: Computer classroom equipped with the hardware and multimedia creation software for complex graphics, coding computer languages, animation, or collaboration with technology tools. As stated by Teoh & Neo (2007), “Akin to hypermedia, multimedia presents an immeasurable interconnectivity to information in a variety of possible combinations, sequences and mixture of resources which shapes the higher-order thinking in students” (p. 1). In this research it is the availability of these tools for projects which will drive learning.
    • 15   Nvivo: Windows desktop application that is available in 32-bit and 64-bit versions. NVivo lets users organize, analyze and visualize information—anything from Word documents and PDFs to videos, podcasts, photos and database tables. Users can organize their material by topic and uncover trends and emerging themes. The visualization tools let them create diagrams, charts or models to present and clarify their discoveries (QSR Technical Resource Center, n.d). Photoshop: Photo editing software with a variety of tools for resizing, adding graphics (text, images) and direct editing of photos and graphic documents. The software also provides a range of options for saving images and files [JPEG, TIFF, PNG, GIF] (Stitzer, 2005).   Project Based Learning: According to Markham (2011), students in a Project Based Learning environment focus on a problem or challenge, work in teams to find a solution to the problem, and often exhibit their work to an adult audience at the end of the project. Increasingly, PBL students take advantage of digital tools to produce high quality, collaborative products. All of these components are consistent with this research project. Project Based Learning Outcomes: The learning outcomes of students will be a measurable cognitive dimension that occurs through the learning process of PBL. The processes of acquiring skills, which will include critical thinking, high-order cognitive processes, problem solving capability, knowledge, and skills in the key learning areas, will assist students in transferring knowledge or skills (Sultan, Woods, & Koo, 2011). Specifically for this research, the goals of the Project Based Learning curriculum were for students to develop a final multimedia project created by a group.
    • 16   Screencasts: Digital recordings of the computer screen often with narration; these are often 3-5 minute videos with a specific purpose (Gormely & McDermott, 2011). Venn diagrams: A Venn diagram is a useful graphic too to help organize sets, logic and counting. Venn diagrams often consist of 3 congruent circles to separate and organize information. The diagram helps shows all possible logical relations between a finite collection of sets ( Myers, 2012 ). Significance of the Study This research adds insight into approaches teachers use when designing project based curriculum as well as the means for assessing project based learning outcomes. “Project-Based Learning has a proven record as a teaching tool. The constructivism learning theory suggests that people learn better by actively participating in the learning process. In order to involve students in the participatory learning process, the interaction among students and between students and the instructor in a classroom becomes very critical” (Verma, 2011). The national trend towards students gaining skills with 21st century learning outcomes is also examined through the lens of this research. The examination of learned outcomes and the capturing of the language used by students during group work and student trends in communication during PBL will reveal new questions about the best approach and format to deliver project based curriculum. This research adds insight into the perception and approaches of authentic assessment with technology tools. Study Overview Project based learning has helped facilitate the efforts of what has become known as “bridging the gap” between academics of a profession and the practice of that
    • 17   profession. PBL is ideal for connecting factual knowledge, principles, and skills to their application within a profession (Verma, 2011). It is the bridging of PBL and authentic assessment of students’ projects using technology that creates a dynamic context for an inquiry into communication styles and themes in the transfer of learning. Current 21st Century Skills education initiatives create a framework which represents the skills which will be valued in the 21st century workforce. “Advocates of 21st century skills favor student-centered methods for example, problem-based learning and project-based learning that allow students to collaborate, work on authentic problems, and engage with the community (Rotherham & Willingham, 2009). These components, combined with developing a fluency using technology in applying these skills, are aimed at making students more prepared for the technology driven workforce. The facility in which the research was conducted is in a suburban high school classroom located in Winchester, Massachusetts. The technology classroom will as a one: one environment which means that for each student there was a computer with equal access to the web and relevant software. This research also took place within the predefined curriculum of PBL with a focus on the group construct while using technology to create multimedia and hypermedia projects. Participants were allowed to group themselves and asked to complete projects based on questions which would be asked in real world scenarios, including authentic assessments. Chapter Summary This chapter provided an outline of the study. This research captures the language, learning styles, assessments and themes central to students’ application of technology in a self-directed, sustained collaborative project environment. The data
    • 18   helps connect PBL curriculum as it relates to 21st century skill building in a high school classroom environment. The significance of this research is the focus on the students’ communication and trends in completing the project. Behaviors are captured during the process of creating project mobile applications. The findings and themes related to the students’ communications provide insight on how they create and manage tasks while using technology collaboratively in small groups.                            
    • 19   CHAPTER TWO: REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE This literature review covers the current range of research in the areas of project based research, constructivist approaches in education, multimedia creation in the classroom, and authentic assessment. The topics are organized in terms of the relevance to the central themes in the research project. The instructional practice of PBL is defined as well as the components of social learning with constructivist approaches which are aligned with PBL. The importance of the integration of a variety of media tools in PBL and examples of research which defines current barriers is also explained. Project Based Learning’s Role with Instruction and Multimedia Instruction Markham (2011) described the traditional context of PBL as requiring the role of the teacher as an instructional coach in the curriculum. This role has become challenged as new ways of integrating technology into the PBL curriculum has included asking students to develop multimedia projects using technology tools. The traditional role of the teacher in a PBL environment has the additional tasks of managing tools and resources to complete projects. PBL challenges learners to adapt to a self-directed environment while learning specific skill based knowledge. Bell’s (2010) research addressed the core component of PBL curriculum: “The project is guided by an inquiry question that drives the research and allows students to apply their acquired knowledge” (Bell, 2010, p. 41). This curriculum approach focuses on a cumulative project, and in many classrooms these projects rely heavily on the use of technology tools to make final presentations. Inquiry based projects allows students to
    • 20   address key questions in their process of learning and apply applied technology skills in presentations or cumulative projects. PBL has become a common and current instructional practice to engage students on a wide range of levels with technology (Bell, 2010). A concern expressed by Markham (2011) in the classroom implementation of PBL with technology is a hope that the technology will be used to empower students in their learning and that the students’ projects drive the questioning. This concern has been tempered by current research by Hernandez, Ramos, and Lapaz (2009) who conducted research in a middle school history classroom using technology assisted project based learning curriculum. The benefits of their research identified that integrating a multimedia project into a PBL curriculum provides great benefits to learning in specific content areas. Hernandez et al.’s (2009) research concluded that a specific PBL strategy using technology helped assist students in knowledge acquisition in the core subject. In addition, the project based model also improved attitude towards learning history with the use of technology assistance. PBL approaches improve student attitudes towards technology based projects and motivation to learn the key skills to complete advanced technology based projects. The research of Hakkarainen (2009) described the process of designing, implementing and refining a PBL course for the creation of educational videos on the college level. The results of teaching digital video with a PBL suggested that the production of Digital Video presented meaningful personal learning opportunities (Hakkarainen, 2009). This research reflects on the individual and group benefits of a PBL pedagogy using digital video production.
    • 21   Hakkarainen (2009) provided the idea that in developing PBL curriculum it is important to embrace small learning groups for learning context, collaboration, conversational and emotional involvement components. The video production project revealed that students not only gained the technical skills needed in video production, but students also learned project management, collaboration, co-operation, and problem solving within the curriculum (Hakkarainen, 2009). The suggestion is that PBL is a good option for integrating multiple skills such as dramaturgy, video expression, video production, copyright regulations and journalism which are generally taught in multiple disciplines and programs (Hakkarainen, 2009). This research describes the challenges of integrating these different teaching and learning skills into the same environment. This research presents PBL as a viable tool for doing this and describes the benefits of providing an authentic question to the students in a PBL environment. Based on the students’ experiences, the authentic questions support the cycles of tutorials which enable the skill based learning. The research of Mioduser and Betzer (2007) looked at the impact of a PBL curriculum within technology education by high school high achievers. The central research questions in their research related to the learning of machine control concepts, the technological use of patterns, design skills acquisition and design skills performance in a PBL curriculum. This research also looked at the students’ attitudes towards technology learning after learning in a PBL curriculum. The population for this study was high school aged students from technological high schools and comprehensive high schools. All students were considered high achievers. Results indicated an increase in technology skill development in the PBL environment and better motivation to problem
    • 22   solve and work through projects (Mioduser & Betzer, 2007). Engaging students with technology, while still increasing skill development, is a major benefit of using a PBL curriculum with technology based curriculum. Social Learning PBL with technology and multimedia tools enable the social integration of multimedia tools and plays an important role in the integration of collaboration, independent learning and student centered approaches of the PBL curriculum (Bell, 2010). “PBL promotes social learning as children practice and become proficient with the twenty-first-century skills of communication, negotiation, and collaboration” (Bell, 2010, p. 40). The components of social learning require a student centered approach which helps improve each student’s ability to work in groups and acquire skills. These tools are important in the traditional classroom and play an even larger role in the technology based multimedia classroom in which students are acquiring important skills to better collaborate and present (Bell, 2010). Kan’s (2011) research established the impact of student centered learning environments using web 2.0 tools by examining the student perceptions, learning experiences and cooperative environment of students working cooperatively creating blogs. Students created learning communities within the class environment of Kan’s research. They revealed the positive components of a student centered course in which students developed blogs as groups including: cooperative influences of positive interdependence, promoted interaction, individual accountability, interpersonal work skills and group processing. Kan’s (2011) study concluded that student centered
    • 23   environments were beneficial for the development and sharing of student e-portfolios to showcase their work. The positive results of this research are a reflection of what they had achieved and the benefits of a cooperative environment using web 2.0 tools. Student centered learning using technology naturally fosters a community of task building and fluency with tools. Interactions in this environment are filled with knowledge sharing and the development of fluency using technology tools. The research of Bell, Galilea, and Tolouei (2010) implemented a scenario centered curriculum for students in an engineering curriculum. Authentic scenarios in learning environments of these students included acquiring technical skills and having project driven approaches to address authentic scenarios. Bell et al. (2010) found positive student impact using scenario based outcomes for learning skill outcomes. The curriculum embedded a project based approach with the traditional tools of lecture and laboratory work (Bell et al., 2010). This approach received a positive student response and provided a livelier class environment and increased motivation of the students. Integration of Multimedia Tools Students use a variety of technology tools to display their learning (Bell, 2010). Bell stated that the application of various types of technologies in group settings empowers students to realize appropriate uses of technology. In the PBL research of Neo and Neo (2010), students are responsible for using authoring tools for their multimedia and were solely responsible for the development of their projects in project based learning environment. This adds to the ownership of projects and the connection that ICT tools (Information Communication Technology) play in the development of instructional content and the methods of communicating information to the learners (Neo
    • 24   and Neo, 2010). Neo and Neo, (2010) concluded that it is the connection between the technology tools and the methods of instruction which drive the most interesting components of the research. Barriers Implementing a PBL curriculum is not without barriers and major issues. Kramer, Walker, and Brill (2007) explored the issues which face practitioners who use project based learning approaches with technology across continents. A true examination of what is preventing this curriculum from gaining ground in a wider range of classroom scenarios will be helpful to this research. Kramer et al.’s (2007) research showed an existence of underutilization of PBL approaches with technology in current curriculum across North America, Eastern Europe, and Africa, and also looked at how the barriers existing are represented across those regions. Many of the barriers found in this research are connected with the lack of teacher training and is associated with the inequality of access to technology to implement a PBL curriculum using technology and, multimedia tools (Kramer et al., 2007). A lack of teacher training in the implementation in countries of Europe and North America and a lack of world-wide connectivity, especially in countries like Africa, does not allow collaboration between students across continents. The trend of citing National Examinations for reasons to not use the curriculum did not show any correlation between those exams and an ability to implement the curriculum. (Kramer et al., 2007) Bell et al. (2010) cited negatives of the PBL curriculum integration which included increased workload for students who may be taking other courses, difficulty in
    • 25   getting introverted students to participate and the presentation of the problem over more traditional courses which may be more theory based. Even though the perceptions of student learning in Bell et al.’s (2010) research were noticed to increase the perception of teacher quality in this approach, the perception was decreased. This could have been based on the teachers’ unfamiliarity with the curriculum approach or the students’ new needs within the curriculum not being met (Bell et al., 2010). Proper teacher training and familiarity with PBL approaches is a necessity. The overcoming of the barriers of student participation and even more prevalently the barriers of teachers’ perceptions and ability to implement the curriculum hold back PBL from gaining traction in many classrooms. Constructivist Approaches with Multimedia Constructivist approaches with Multimedia has been addressed in the research projects of Neo & Neo (2010). Neo and Neo’s research provided insight into how students construct their own learning development experience with the multimedia. Constructivist learning environments often include approaches which contain student centered approaches and socio-cultural theories. The socio cultural theories include concepts related to personalized learning, independent learning, autonomous learning, and authentic learning (Vale et al., 2007). The components must work in conjunction with the technology in classroom. Students in Neo and Neo’s (2010) research were asked to interpret the problem, find information to help them solve their authentic question, and cognitively to help them negotiate the problem and use conversation and collaborative tools to help learners construct the problem as a learning group. Analysis of student’s perceptions of their
    • 26   experiences solving authentic questions using multimedia in a project based, constructivist learning gave insight into the critical role of the instructional methods in implementing multimedia and the benefits of a constructivist environment (Neo & Neo, 2010). Significance The significance of the research by Neo and Neo (2010) relates to the connection ICT tools (Information Communication Technology) plays in the “instructional content development and the methods of communicating information to the learners” (Neo & Neo, 2010). It is the connection between the technology tools and the methods of instruction which drive the most interesting components of the environment of multimedia development in a constructivist project based environment. Neo and Neo’s work shows that using authentic tasks with a multimedia project in a constructivist learning environment increased motivation amongst students in their learning and increased the development of their active learning process. This research provided encouragement for the use of this curriculum model in the Malaysian education system and showed the benefits of implementing multimedia technology in their classrooms in terms of instructional content and constructivist learning opportunities (Neo & Neo, 2010). The benefits of a project based learning constructivist environment can go beyond improving multimedia instruction and it can actually improve instruction in disciplines such as math. The research of Vale et al. (2007) gained personal accounts from teachers and math leaders who accepted and committed to student centered learning approaches after participating in professional development and training with student centered
    • 27   constructivist approaches. A look into the research of mathematics instruction reveals that there is actually limited research related to student centered approaches and math instruction. This makes this critical research to the benefits of a constructivist, authentic environment having an overlapping presence between disciplines (Vale et al., 2007). Student Perceptions The research of Neo and Neo (2010) investigated the perceptions of students in developing a multimedia project within a constructivist learning environment with students working in groups with multimedia. In this research, students were responsible for using authoring tools for their multimedia and were solely responsible for the development of their projects. The perceptions of students are critically important in multimedia projects as students’ motivation and commitment to the projects are important to the success of the final outcome (Neo & Neo, 2010). The concept presented by Sultan et al. (2011): The ‘critical voice’ of students is the ‘extent to which a social climate has been established in which students feel that it is legitimate and beneficial to question the teacher’s pedagogical plans and methods, and to express concerns about any impediments to their learning and find room and other ways of knowing. (p. 151) This important concept helps direct the individual student’s learning and approach to the environment. The critical voice defines the internal ability of the student to organize and to arrange their cognitive approach to solving a problem with the teachers’ direct assistance. Sultan et al. (2011) defined the importance of “learning outcomes” and their connection to the learning environment. Learning outcomes in this study were defined as “measurable cognitive dimension that occurs through the learning process” (Sultan et al., 2011, p. 152). The outcomes of the construct of this research sought to look at how the
    • 28   following concepts relate to their perceived e-learning outcome: personal relevance, student uncertainty, critical voice, shared control, student negotiation. These components were the basis of the hypothesis of a connection between the research and the outcomes. The research of Neo et al. (2010) showed students’ perceptions during constructivist learning to have positive attitude and enjoyment in using the curriculum to learn multimedia. The research showed it was an “effective instructional method which could be used to enhance and increase students’ understanding of the subject matter and engage them actively in their learning process” (Neo et al., 2010, p. 32). Overall, the constructivist learning environment was effective and beneficial for delivering instructions to students learning multimedia. The research of Garran (2008) described the experiences of a teacher implementing a PBL approach with her students in a social studies project using the approaches of Gardiners Multiple intelligences, Newman’s model of Authentic Assessment and Sizer’s focus on student exhibitions (Garran, 2008). Students in this curriculum are enabled to showcase a wide variety of skills across disciplines. The influence of authentic strategies in the students’ projects played a critical role in this research. According to this research student project difficultly levels were determined by their own level of academic and intellectual intelligence in a PBL curriculum. The choices students make within the constructivist approach of PBL actually drives the level in which the students in this research learn. This includes students’ ability to learn across disciplines and to apply these skills in groups in cumulative projects.
    • 29   Authentic Learning Results of Neo and Neo’s (2010) research showed that using authentic tasks with a multimedia project in a constructivist learning environment, increased motivation amongst students in their learning and increased the development of their active learning process. This research provided encouragement for the use of this curriculum model in the Malaysian education system and benefits for implementing multimedia technology in their classrooms in terms of instructional content and constructivist learning opportunities. This study looked closely at how students construct their own learning experience. Students were asked to respond to questions which evaluated their interpretation of the problem, information to help them solve their authentic question, cognitive to help them negotiate the problem and conversation and collaborative tools to help learners construct the problem as a learning group (Neo and Neo, 2010). The use of these constructivist components to look at the perceptions of student experiences to solve authentic questions using multimedia in a project based constructivist learning gave insight into the critical role of the instructional methods in implementing multimedia and the benefits of a constructivist environment (Neo and Neo, 2010). Sultan et al. (2011) defined the importance of “learning outcomes” in constructivist learning with multimedia and their connection to the learning environment. Learning outcomes in this study are defined as “measurable cognitive dimension that occurs through the learning process” (Sultan et al., 2011). The outcomes of the construct of this research seek to look at how the following concepts relate to their perceived e-learning outcome: personal relevance, student
    • 30   uncertainty, critical voice, shared control, student negotiation. These components were the basis of the hypothesis of a connection between research to the outcomes (Sultan et al., 2011). The aim of this study was to assess students’ perceptions of their classroom experiences with 1:1 learning of computing quantitatively and their understanding of the dimensions of Constructivist Learning Environments (CLE's) identified in this study. This study suggested that students’ CLE's for classroom practice is positively related to their “perceived e-learning outcomes” (Sultan et al., 2011). This research adds to the knowledge and understanding of constructivism in education. The main contributions of this study revealed that constructivist learning is grounded by the students’ desire to work within the constructivist learning environment (CLE) to complete cumulative projects with groups. In Burton’s (2011) research a framework of various authentic assessment theories are combined to evaluate a law course. This research provides a broad and definitive description of many of the current definitions of authentic assessment. Using guidelines from Herrington and Herrington (1998; 2006) strategies for authentically assessing learning contexts can be identified. This research’s use of four groups; context, student factors, task factors, and indicators can immediately define an environment of authentic learning. These factors and the framework they provide for authentic learning assessment creates a guide to evaluate how well projects can be assessed in real world scenarios. Yoon Jin and Hyun-Hwa’s (2012) research centralized providing students with a real world experiences by incorporating an authentic learning scenario into the curriculum of a fashion merchandising curriculum. This research provided evidence of
    • 31   the importance of team work as it relates to real world settings. Student interaction improved using technology and students learned how to better navigate the proper communication over distance and how to improve their description of needs. The importance of teamwork and the necessity of proper research to properly solve problems were revealed in the students’ experience in this research (Yoon Jin, & Hyun-Hwa 2012). Quantitative and qualitative data proved the study provided students with beneficial learning experiences with practical competencies, professional experiences and problem solving skills. The critical benefits of authentically driven curriculum are that students are able to participate in real world scenarios with guidance from the instructor and collaboratively with small groups to experience how world experiences can inform learners. Implementation and Approaches There are a variety of documented approaches to integrating multimedia into classrooms using a constructivist approach. The research of Neo et al., (2010) is critical to examining the benefits of better understanding how digital learning has changed the instructional strategies of teachers. It also establishes another attempt of a major university attempting to use a student centered approach to integrating multimedia learning (Neo et al., 2010). The surveys used in the research were utilized to ascertain attitudes which were prevalent in the learning environment of the student. Questionnaires were created to attain information about the effectiveness of the learning environment. This research focused in several areas: Motivation and Learning Objectives, Content Organization, Navigation and GUI, and Multimedia and Interactivity. These represented the central
    • 32   components of the learning environment to be examined using Gagne’s nine events of instruction (Neo et al., 2010). The research of Vale et al. (2007) is directed at better understanding the implementation student centered, constructivist based learning environments in mathematics instruction. The focus of the research is “the ways in which it is being defined and implemented by regional and school leaders and teachers, the practices of teachers, and their perceptions of its impact on student learning.” Nielsen and Kolmos (2010) identified new approaches to problem based approaches with students. Their research, which used the GENSO project, organized the collaboration of multiple universities in the management of student space satellites in ICT based intercultural and interdisciplinary environment (Nielsen & Kolmos, 2010). This research is based on “knowledge creation “metaphor that students in the PBL environment actually create their own knowledge as they problem solve. This is opposed to knowledge acquisition in traditional curriculum of understanding how students learn. The research showed that it is not enough to improve individual learner understanding but it is necessary to develop new culturally shared knowledge objects (Nielsen & Kolmos, 2010). The collaborative components of the GENSO project included online discussions, workshops, face to face meeting, document sharing, and weekly chat sessions. The findings in this study showed the PBL is a tool which can assist students with “knowledge creation” as opposed to knowledge acquisition (Nielsen & Kolmos, 2010). The PBL experience increased level of motivation towards learning and increased ownership. The GENSO project improved students’ understanding of critical aspects of
    • 33   management of the satellites and cooperation between students in different locations. The multiple skills learned in the PBL curriculum in groups supports multidisciplinary approaches that can be used with this pedagogical approach (Nielsen & Kolmos, 2010). According to Nielsen and Kolmos (2010): From the perspective of knowledge creation, learning is a process of knowledge creation which concentrates on mediated processes in which common objects of activity are developed collaboratively. The knowledge building and learning processes are not only processes in which technological working skills are gained; they also include the social process in which the skills of collaboration, communication and productive work with knowledge are developed. Thus, the PBL environment provides sufficient opportunities for learners to develop these skills. (p. 185) Engaging students in these contexts supports a wide range of learning and improved individual and group skills.
    • 34   CHAPTER THREE: METHODOLOGY The instructional model Project Based Learning engages students in learning knowledge and skills through an extended inquiry process. Markham, Larmer and Ravit’s (2003) study described this process as structured around authentic questions and carefully designed products and tasks. Technology was utilized during collaborative group projects and the communication of student groups engaged in group work leading to authentic final presentations. This research helps teachers to better identify the benefits of using a group approach with technology and to also better understand the communication between students without the direct knowledge of the teacher. The language was captured that students used in their interaction and collaborative exchange of information required to complete critical tasks on the way to creating final products. Understanding the exchange of skill learning and task delegation between students during group technology projects and the communication between members will help teachers better organize group learning scenarios and identify strategies for assisting groups which may have a wide range of skill levels, abilities, or problems communicating. Project based learning is a comprehensive instructional approach that engages students in sustained, cooperative investigation using technology applications, student collaboration, and cumulative long range projects focused on the development of 21st century skills (Project Based Learning Space, 2009). Collected the opinions, feelings, strategies, cooperation and other evidence of communication between students in the working groups in transcribed audio, observations, learning journals and artifacts were
    • 35   collected to gain insight into a project based learning classroom environment using technology. The collected data related to students communication and acquisition of technology skills in a group technology project revealed which topics and issues related to the students’ completion of the project were the most common and influential within the group dynamic. The experiences and language of students’ learning collaboratively were vital to the process of their problem solving. These experiences and student driven strategies resulted in a cumulative technology driven group project outcome. Communication and language trends of students were better defined as they interacted with each other during projects using multimedia technology. Technology’s influences on the student’s acquisition of tasks and the choices students make while problem solving in a PBL learning environment was also examined. Results benefits mostly teacher practitioners of PBL environments who will be able to better identify strategies for organizing classes into productive groups and recognizing opportunities to engage in guiding groups successfully without disrupting their own natural communication and interaction with technology. The final cumulative projects created in this environment reflected the collaborative exchange of students using technology and provided deep insight into how the choice of communication and the diversity of groups influenced final products. Research Design A phenomenological approach was used to unearth the central themes and qualitative method of data collection. An endeavor was to better understand the learning approaches of students using technology collaboratively in a project based learning
    • 36   environment. Specific language and themes that students use while engaged in this environment was defined. According to Creswell (2009), “Phenomenological approach to research is a strategy of inquiry in which the researcher identifies the essence of human experiences about a phenomenon as described by participants” (p. 15). It was important to capture the phenomenon of students’ rich experiences in the PBL curriculum using technology during their participation to reveal the variety of interactions, communications and reflections of the experience. Sampling Procedures Purposeful sampling allows for the selection of the specific unit of a computer education course which permit opportunistic sampling of the group the researcher could learn the most from (Teddlie & Yu, 2007). This method also assisted in the collection of the dominant themes as they arose in the phenomenon and allow for focusing on the depth of data collected (Teddlie & Yu, 2007). Participants for the study were 18 high school aged students participating in a computer education course at a suburban public high school located in New England. Many of the students had taken computer education courses throughout their educational background in the district. The students enrolled in this course had taken some web development previous to this course and they are skilled in most basic computer functions through web and computer literacy courses up through the ninth grade. This course is a semester long course elective. The students participated in a project based learning curriculum with computer technology. Each participant had the opportunity to withdraw from the study at any time without any negative consequences. Projects were assessed by an outside assessor in order to limit ethical concerns between the participants and researcher.
    • 37   Finally, permission was granted from the principal to conduct research at the high school. Proper permissions were also gained from the parents for minors to participate in the study. The researcher followed all guidelines according to Argosy University’s Institutional Review Board (IRB). This sample represents the work process of students in a project based learning curriculum. It also indicates the groups’ experiences working in a technology based one: one environment in which each student has access to a computer. If this research were done in a different scenario, it is advised to be conducted in a single classroom environment and use the inquiry driven project based curriculum with each student having access to a computer. Data Collection Methods Students were grouped into groups of four and asked to create a mobile application which answers an authentic question over the course of four weeks. Prior to the group project students were instructed in task based lessons to help them to complete individual tasks of the mobile application lessons. During group work time and project planning time students’ group audio was recorded. After completing each work period students were asked to write a two paragraph entry into a learning journal to gain their perspectives and experiences of working in groups with technology. The final projects were examined and analyzed for indicators of success in each group process using a rubric based on creating an authentic project. Questions were answered central to the experiences of the student’s participation in a project based learning curriculum using technology. The collection of audio recordings, while the students were participating in project development activities, as
    • 38   well as their time working collaboratively with the multimedia software to create their projects, revealed the students choice of vocabulary and communication style. Other perceptions and experiences were collected from learning journals which were completed by participants in class. Learning journals allowed students to reflect on the following: experiences with each other, technology; and their processes of learning within the curriculum. Students were required to write a minimum of two paragraphs after each collaborative work period. Collecting statements used by students working collaboratively in a project based learning curriculum with technology while working in their groups provided insight into the process of learning and group interaction which were critical to the research. The audio also provided a record of dialogue between students; which may not always be heard by the instructor. This dialogue provided insight into how PBL groups communicate as they completed tasks with technology independently as the teacher monitored. The most commonly spoken statements made by students revealed approaches students used in the process of learning collaboratively. The collection of audio communication measured the student’s choice of terms, delegation of tasks and patterns in the collaborative interaction. Procedures used for data collection included: transcribed audio recordings of group interaction; student learning journals; observations and field notes of student experiences; and the final projects in photo and digital video format. Data collection took place over forty-five minute increments of classroom work time. Audio recordings were conducted during planning and collaborative creation during the groups’ development stages of the mobile applications; also, throughout the
    • 39   students’ completion of projects, their collaboration between each other and during the utilization of technology tools. By audio recording the students’ interactions and language, a better understanding of the words, language use and collaboration trends were captured. Each group was digitally recorded working together in their assigned areas. Students completed individual learning journals during the process of this study which captured their perspectives on completed projects. Their responses and writings provided insight on how well the students perceived they collaborated and negotiated tasks of the project. In addition, explanations were provided as to whether their group interactions were successful or not. The student group outcomes were evaluated based on completion of the necessary tasks of an authentic mobile application. The final projects were also analyzed against the audio data used by particular groups. The following rubric was used to assess the projects for authenticity. The rubric for authentic assessment for the cumulative projects was based on the work of Herrington & Herrington (1998; 2006) and focused in four major areas. The first area of focus was context, emphasizing challenges of real world question students were asked. The ability of the students to work within the curriculum and technology based environment in order to make connections to realistic project outcomes. Another area in the students’ authentic assessment of PBL curriculum with technology includes problem- solving skills, higher order thinking, the production of knowledge rather than the reproduction of knowledge, significant student time, collaboration, effective performers, polished products and depth of knowledge (Herrington and Herrington, 1998; 2006).
    • 40   Thirdly, task factors and student responses to the central authentic question and the complexity in which students answer and solve the components to the question reveal a greater depth of learning. A final indicator of the group projects success was the ability to create valid and reliable products that addressed the needs of the question. The cumulative final project indicated success of communication strategies used among students in each group for completing the project. Methodological Assumptions and Limitations An assumption was students would provide a level of communication, negotiation, teamwork and task management completing their cumulative projects. This assumption also included compounding factors of integrating technology and multimedia design into the expected final outcomes. Generalizability of this study is based on providing a similar context of project based curriculum, technology enabling tools and instructor approach with authentic assessment. The removal of any one of those components would change the anticipated reactions, responses and data collected for generalizability. Another assumption was all participating students were computer literate and capable of managing technology efficiently. It was also assumed they were familiar with common language related to mobile applications, web design and the modern web environment. A final assumption was students were readily able to adapt to the construct of the research in terms of basic skills and content knowledge. It should be noted that students did not need to be completely fluent in all skills related to the curriculum prior to taking the course.
    • 41   Limitations The sample size which may have fluctuated on the students who agreed to participate and the number signed up for the course presented major limitation in size and scope of potential outcomes for analysis. Students participating may not have been able to complete all aspects of the project outline in the curriculum. Also, students may not have been able to provide audio in their work group. This would reflect on whether insight was added to communication among group members. These limitations reflect more on the potential variables of students’ work ethics in the projects and their choice of verbal communication as a means to express while working on projects and their choices of verbal communication as a means of expression. Student limitations as they relate to their abilities to track learning and describing their experiences in journals also existed. Students may not have reflected thoroughly on their experience in the groups relative to the research or may not have provided data that could be analyzed based on the research questions. Their choices made by the students in writing about their skill learning may have been outside the research context. The final cumulative technology projects of each group may have been a limitation as well. The projects presented a variety in style, needs addressed, color schemes, technology application used and cohesiveness. Potential analysis of the construct which created them was also added. The variety of these projects reflected each group’s dynamics and technology skills applications, but the independent creations reflected choices made by participating in the process. Data collected from audio recordings presented a limitation if the audio did not clearly reflect the communication of students as they worked on projects and delegated
    • 42   tasks. Time was another limitation since the audio collection period may not have been long enough. Communication may not have been pertinent for completing tasks or included in the data collected. Conclusively, students controlled what they said during audio data collections was a definitive limitation. Also, students may or may not have been working on projects during audio or communicating using their voices. The groups created were their own limitations since they defined their own process and work habits. Decisions related to how the groups addressed the PBL curriculum was in their control. Each group decided how and when to move forward on projects as the teacher’s role was facilitator. Collective choices made in motivating themselves and integrating specific components of the project defined the groups. Students organized the order of tasks and delegated with their discretions. Student decisions on the use and range of technology tools to complete the project was a limitation in this study. Students had clear understandings of specific skills using the multimedia technology from classroom training, but their methods of integrating the tools defined their purpose and their utilization making the product was in their control. Each group chose the necessary tools, usage, and managed their efficiency to complete the projects. Students also utilized web based sources to assist them in project completion with the instructor’s knowledge. This variable was not directly encouraged but was allowed during the data collection period. Students expressed these factors in the content learning journals.
    • 43   Delimitations All students in this study were from upper middle class families in a suburban city outside of Boston. A major focus of their families have been on learning technology skills. The classroom laboratory in which this research took place was designed with 24 computers capable of running sophisticated multimedia software. Each of these variables makes the replication of this study less feasible. The delimitations to this study were based around the curriculum choice, the demographics of the sample, and school location. The technology tools used were a clear delimitation since students had access to specific multimedia software (Adobe Design Suite), web based collaboration tools (Google Docs), web based collaboration tools (Google Docs), word processing and presentation (Microsoft Office) software. All software was specific to the classroom laboratory in which they worked. Students had access to other classroom laboratories during the research project. This delimitation enabled the analysis of data related to the project creation to remain aligned with these tools. All groups were introduced to the technology tools in the laboratory previous to the research phase. They also received direct instruction on the utilization of the technology tools and tutorials identifying critical lessons which enables students to complete final projects. Access to the lessons was permitted throughout the project in the form of web based video tutorials. Students participating were included in groups of four and asked to address an authentic question. The groups represented the team approach to inquiry of an authentic question. This limitation was the driver of communication and the sharing of knowledge
    • 44   among group members. The group dynamics was a delimitation of the PBL learning groups. Data Analysis The researcher coded and categorized the audio of the collaborative experiences of students’ working during the group process with the assistance of Nvivo word querying software to develop themes that revealed common experiences of the participants. Themes that evolved from this process disclosed both strengths and deficiencies in the curriculum and common issues while interacting with technology tools. The themes produced overarching understandings of how students worked with the curriculum. Additional indicators were the groups’ perceptions of the instructor and the project itself. The language of students revealed strategies for completing the final cumulative project, but it also indicated the group dynamics and management of tools utilized to complete critical tasks. With the curriculum centered on an authentic assessment, it demonstrated the connection to critical terms and real world scenarios that assisted in their project designs. The audio recordings also illustrated the choice of language that reflected the use of specific language relevant to technology, collaboration and communication that facilitated collaboration or task completion. Groups that create inquiry based authentic projects have specific language or words necessary to successfully complete projects. Students who employed successful negotiations and task delegations used collaborative approaches with a variety of vocabulary. The coding and categorization of the audio for specific language revealed each group’s approach and communication.
    • 45   During the research period, students documented their personal learning experiences related to the projects in a web based learning journal. Students were asked to write after each group work period and reflect on their learning experiences in the groups. Additionally, they included positives and negatives of working collaboratively with technology. This data showed the inner experiences of each individual within the groups. The artifacts in this project are represented by a cumulative final project; which indicated various approaches the groups used to complete an authentic technology driven project. Analysis of the student groups’ final projects revealed the experiences of students participating in a project based technology curriculum. The outcomes of students’ authentic project creations were analyzed against the perceived group constructs and approaches. The fluency of the groups’ applications of the technology components of the curriculum provided insight into how the groups’ language or interaction may influence outcomes. It also shows the extent to which each group attempted to create an authentic project. Researcher collected audio data, categorized and then coded according to the dominant themes that evolved from the research. Themes were analyzed within the context of the Project-Based Curriculum and the application of technology with the groups’ projects and collaborative language. Researcher used collected audio data to address the research questions based on student communication and use of language. Researcher evaluated the final cumulative projects against the authentic assessment rubric and analyzed on how well the groups addressed the needs of the
    • 52   students exported their mobile application into an .APK format (Blum, 2012) and tested the application on a device. During the testing period, students corrected errors and issues with designs and technology integration. Finally, students republished a final application with an icon graphic representing the group’s project. At the conclusion of the project, each group created a 10-minute video screen-cast presentation of their projects. These projects concluded the final presentation phase by asking students to reflect on their learning as well as to describe the importance of their projects to real world outcomes. The aim of the presentations was to connect the components of the project and describe the various roles included in the process of completing the projects. Findings and Results Final project artifacts in the research along with collected transcribed audio data, and learning journal support the findings in this study. The findings were grouped into general themes, which reflect the nature of the results. Mobile Application Design Strategies During their final presentations, participants expressed the importance of the continual process of improving the mobile application design. Participants recognized the experience as beneficial to improving the overall final product. Quotes made by the students revealed their desire to improve the professional quality of the app as well as describing the student’s experiences modifying the design and working through the planning stages successfully. Project Conceptualization
    • 47   available for teachers to use, it is important to stay grounded to the benefits of better understanding how technology drives students’ communication and management of tasks differently. This research indicated how group interaction drives the use of technology. A detailed description of findings appears in the following chapter.
    • 48   CHAPTER FOUR: FINDINGS Introduction This qualitative phenomenological research methodology was designed to uncover and describe the dynamics of group participants working on a Problem Based Learning project using technology. The purpose of this study was to determine themes, experiences, and decisions depicted in the language of students as they negotiated a final project using computer technology tools. This research design utilized three methods of qualitative data collection in order to achieve triangulation: written individual student learning journals; transcribed audios of group sessions working together on the project and final project artifacts created by each group. The following research questions guided this study: R1: What are the benefits of a Project Based Learning curriculum in group projects using technology? R2: How does a Project Based Learning curriculum encourage the group dynamics of learning collaboratively with technology? R3: How does Project Based Learning curriculum promote conversations and communications among students as they delegate tasks? R4: What outcomes will emerge as a result of students’ participation in a Project Based Learning Technology curriculum? The remainder of this chapter consists of sections containing the following: a description of the population, data collection, analysis of data, research questions and their findings, and a summary.
    • 49   Population Description The participants in this study consisted of 18 high school students in a suburban school district located in the western area of Massachusetts. All participants in the study were Caucasian consisting of 17 males and one female. Their ages ranged from 14 to 17 years. All students in the sample socioeconomic status were from the middle class or above. Most of the students had taken introductory computer courses leading up to this elective course in web design. Data collection occurred from the participants in a single classroom environment with a computer available to each student. One of 18 participants was not present for the first week of data collection. Collection of Data and Data Analysis Collection of Data Data was collected over a four-week period with a total of 13 work sessions. Students were audio recorded as they worked collaboratively in their groups for 45 minutes each class period. The groups met three times a week for three weeks and four times in the final week for 13 sessions. Students could form their own groups as long as groups were balanced in number of members. The students comprised four groups. Group 1 consisted of three males and one female. In Group 2, there were five males. Group 3 contained four males. Finally, Group 4 consisted of five males. At the conclusion of the group work, students provided two paragraphs of reflective writing in a web based learning journal. Nvivo, qualitative analysis software, (QSR Technical Resource Center, 2012) was used to analyze the typed information from the learning journals of individual students in
    • 50   the study and transcribe audio files from the groups work periods. Word queries were determined by identifying the 100 most often-used words within the transcribed documents. Nvivo was used to produce word trees that illustrated the 100 most dominant words in the documents and their relevance according to frequency of use. The word trees were the basis of the coding and categorization process, thus creating the inductively developed themes for analysis. Project Artifacts Participants in the technology-based PBL curriculum were asked to answer the authentic question, “How can you plan, design, and develop a mobile application for your high school community?” In the process of answering the authentic question, students created project artifacts that reflected the planning of the layout graphics of the application using Adobe Photoshop software and a click stream interpretation of how users will interact with the design. Students created Venn diagrams using Photoshop Software and identified the desired content, context of use, and required technologies needed for their mobile application ideas. The planning process of students included developing a layout for the vision of their design based on intended users and the location of technology content into their applications. Students used the Flash software (Jun, Zu-Yuan, and Yuren, 2009) to develop a layout, integrate and create graphics and implement a variety of web and mobile technologies into a mobile application addressing the authentic question. Students were required to have artifacts representing the planning process (Venn diagram, Photoshop graphic layouts) and a downloadable mobile application exported onto an Android device. The mobile application was to have five pages of content and an integration of a minimum of three technologies and color schemes developed using software tools. Next,
    • 51   students exported their mobile application into an .APK format (Blum, 2012) and tested the application on a device. During the testing period, students corrected errors and issues with designs and technology integration. Finally, students republished a final application with an icon graphic representing the group’s project. At the conclusion of the project, each group created a 10-minute video screen-cast presentation of their projects. These projects concluded the final presentation phase by asking students to reflect on their learning as well as to describe the importance of their projects to real world outcomes. The aim of the presentations was to connect the components of the project and describe the various roles included in the process of completing the projects. Findings and Results Final project artifacts in the research along with collected transcribed audio data, and learning journal support the findings in this study. The findings were grouped into general themes, which reflect the nature of the results. Mobile Application Design Strategies During their final presentations, participants expressed the importance of the continual process of improving the mobile application design. Participants recognized the experience as beneficial to improving the overall final product. Quotes made by the students revealed their desire to improve the professional quality of the app as well as describing the student’s experiences modifying the design and working through the planning stages successfully. Project Conceptualization
    • 52   In this study, groups produced a high level of project conceptualization in terms of answering the authentic question (see Appendix C, Authentic Rubric) and designing the user interface of the mobile application (Appendix I, presentations of Groups 1, 2, 3, and 4). The planning time allotted in this PBL curriculum allowed students to develop thoroughly the conceptualization of their projects. The attention to detail provided by groups in their design such as color schemes, graphic interfaces and choices of content created in Photoshop software (Stitzer, 2005) (see Appendix D, Figure 1; Planning Group 1) can be attributed to the built-in planning time. The specific details of the students’ designs appear in the planning graphics (see Appendix D) and in their final presentations. Students challenged themselves to address the needs of the question (see Appendix C) and conceptualize projects that addressed a real world problem. All groups’ (Appendix I, Groups 1, 2, 3, and 4) final presentations described the necessity to provide a service to others in the school with their application design. Each group also considered the age and necessary content for the users of their design. Groups included consideration for the professional appearance of their design and the level of interactivity as a social tool. Groups provided rich descriptions of conceptualizing projects in the final presentations. Project conceptualization quotes included: “We thought the app should be for students aged 14-18 visitors, staff, new students, and people who wanted to contact teachers and parents.” (Group 4 Student) Below is an example of a student group identifying the age group and target audience of the application. This conceptualization helped this group design with specific content in mind within the design:
    • 53   “We tried to make a streamlined approach for the useful content.” (Group 3 Student) This statement made by a group member describes how the approach to the design of the app based around organizing the content that was determined most useful: “We found that as students it is really difficult to communicate with everyone in our class and recover forgotten or lost work when we needed it. So we wanted to design something to serve as a backup to help aid students at communicating with everyone in their class and help them recover lost of forgotten work.” (Group 3 Student) A student from Group 3 described conceptualizing the design and ways the group solved a series of student-specific problems. Their idea derived from a problem identified and then a strategy for addressing the problem with a mobile application design. Problem Solving The variety of approaches (see Appendix D Group Projects) used by the four groups addressing an authentic question were revealed in the final projects through the planning graphics and the collaborative approaches used by the groups. As shown by the completed application planning of Group 1 (Appendix D, Figure 1), there is a distinct focus on the design of maps and user interface as the central components of the project. For Group 2 the design and approach included a variety of touch technologies and animation (see Appendix D, Figure 2). Group 3’s approach (see Appendix D, Figure 3) included a login screen and social media components as central to their design. Group 4 created a simplistic layout and design centered on providing school based information with a photo based design layout (see Appendix D, Figure 4). The variety of approaches used by the groups indicated the desire to create designs that appealed to their targeted audiences and users. The benefit of an authentic curriculum is the variety of approaches to problem solving solutions to a shared question.
    • 54   This component is the “Task Factors” requirement on the authentic rubric of Herrington & Herrington (1998; 2006) (see Appendix C) which asks that groups create a “wide range of responses to the central authentic question” (p. 21). The variety emerges in the visual approaches used in the creation of the design and the choices groups made when integrating a variety of technologies. Visual Approaches Students in Groups 1 and 2 described specifically in the presentations a variety of visual design choices in their mobile applications. Students described the detailed use of Photoshop software (Stitzer, 2005) as well as color schemes related to the content of the application. There were also descriptions of the links between the choice in visuals and the technical components. Students in Group 1 stated: “We wanted to have transparent buttons so you would not have an awkward background behind it. I just kind of tweaked around with the gradient overlay.” This statement describes the student’s description of the button making process with the tools to create different visual effects with the software. “The app has a simple and clean layout one in which anyone can understand, along with a color scheme to show school spirit.” (Group 1 Student) The student in Group 1 described the intentional use of a clean layout incorporating colors that worked according to the chosen colors of their school. “We wanted buttons that would be kind of catchy but not too intricate and we wanted it to match our red, white, and black color scheme.” (Group 2 Student) Students in Group 2 described the process of making buttons in Photoshop software (Stitzer, 2005) and described the choice available in button design. This statement also connects the choice of the group based on the design of the application
    • 55   color scheme. This indicates fluency with technology tools to a level that enabled choice of the final visual. “So as you can see the buttons match the color scheme.” (Group 2 Student) This describes in the final presentation how students intentionally designed the buttons designed to match a specific color scheme by the group. Technology Integration Groups 1 and 4 described in detail a variety of ways they integrated technology into the mobile applications. In the final presentations, group members described the integration of technology with the use of “zooming” technology, external links, audio effects, and interactive buttons. Group members also described the connection of their designs to modern technologies such as mobile browsers and linking their applications to other mobile data. “There are three detailed maps of each floor which are color coded to differentiate the subjects situated in each wing. Each map has the ability to pinch and zoom to get a closer look at each room for easier navigation.” (Group 1 Student) This student’s statement in the final presentation described how integrated with their mobile interface the maps were, which had a pinch and zoom touch feature when exported to a mobile device. The students could place their fingers onto the screen and expand the size of the graphic inserted into the design. Students needed to apply specific code to the software to enable this feature. “Our group also created two buttons for external links.” (Group 4 Student) This statement is a description of the choice of a group to use their buttons when pressed on the mobile application to send the user to external web links. To do this, the students needed to add specific link names into the code of Flash.
    • 56   “Another cool thing that all of these maps have is a pinch and zoom.” (Group 1 Student) “There were three technologies we integrated into this app. We included buttons, which linked to websites; we also included sounds when you clicked the buttons, at first we chose a laser noise and then fixed it. Our third technology was the pinch and zoom in which you can see on the maps.” (Group 3 Student) Groups integrated a variety of technology into their mobile applications. Requirements for the project included having three different technologies such as buttons, web links, and pinch and zoom actions. Each group could integrate their choices in relation to their choice of design. “It takes you right to your mobile browser.” (Group 4 Student) This reference to the mobile browser revealed a developing fluency using technology with the creation of the mobile applications. Students were better able to understand how their designs will look in a mobile format: “This is the link to Edline (The Edline Difference, 2013). This is ultimately the reason we chose not to have news on the app itself because the most updated information is on Edline itself.” (Group 4 Student) The student described Edline, which is a web portal for online learning support for school districts. It provides school district websites, teacher web pages, and school administrative features (The Edline Difference, 2013). The student referred to linking to the web portal because that source is continually updated for the school and can be viewed on a mobile browser in the same view size as a mobile application would be. This statement is a further indication of their increasing awareness of how to link content and how to streamline the design by having a strong understanding of how to show or integrate mobile application based content. Communication Trends
    • 57   Language trends evolved from the audio transcriptions, learning journals and final group presentations screencasts. These trends included management and task based language. The study also indicated language using collaborative approaches and technology driven words. Management language. The prevalence of project process words that represent 29.5% of all words categorized of the first 100 dominant words in the chart of Audio Transcription words (see Appendix G, Audio Transcription Chart) reveals the importance of language related to action words. These words relate to the completion of project tasks as described by the group. Words such as “finished,” “started,” “productive,” “worked,” “managed” were dominant in the groups’ language choice. In this study, these words are definitive descriptors of students’ ability to manage a technology driven project collaboratively. When students were using these words, they were describing the completion of activities and actions related to the project. Words such as “finished” or “started” indicated that the groups were on task and communicating about specific targets to move to the next step. Groups’ decisions to collaborate and effectively complete tasks using technology indicated the successful negotiation of technology tasks on the way to project completion. In the learning journals, the Project Process words were the most dominant category of word choice amongst all groups 31.5% of the first 100 dominant words of all categorized journal words (see Appendix E, Figure 5 Journal Words Chart). Examples of these words are “finished,” or “working,” or “started.” The dominance of these words indicated that group process in a PBL curriculum is a dominant theme in the completion of tasks and group vision. These words aligned with the intended action of completing
    • 58   specific tasks or components. Additionally, these words indicated an active group process and attention to completing specific components. Student reflections on project process and necessary components in the learning journals were the most dominant. These themes reflected knowledge of project management and the necessity to delegate the variety of tasks. Process words like “managed,” “productive,” “finished,” “started,” or “worked” were dominant across all groups 31.5% (see Figure 5, Learning Words Chart). Words describing the necessary project components were also dominant at 24.25%. These are words like “button,” ”content,” “app,” or “page.” Task Language. The learning journals submitted by students showed a dominance with 31.5 % of the first 100 dominant categorized words related to “project components” (see Figure 5, Learning Journals Chart). The prevalence of words such as “button,” “layout,” ”content,” “page,” and “test” supported the completion of project tasks and specific components as well as action words describing the process of the group. Project components represented the core vocabulary that student were acquiring in the projects. These words connected the students understanding of the layout of their design and the specific components they integrated. The dominance of these words showed the intent of these groups to complete tasks related to design and development process. The long range of the project (13 sessions) also enabled group members to develop a level of fluency using the words in context of their design. The prevalence of these words across the data collection indicated a success of the curriculum providing an extended inquiry process necessitating increased use of the words.
    • 59   Collaboration. In this study, the group communication collected in the audio transcriptions (see Appendix G, Audio Transcription Chart) revealed presence of words related to “group references.” Examples of these words are “everyone,” “together,” and “group.” These words were indicators of the use of words referring to others in the group or a group work process. These words were more prevalent in the transcribed audio of “Group 1” 3% and “Group 2” 5% of the first 100 dominant words (Appendix G, Audio Transcription Chart) than the other two groups, which had 1% each. These two groups also expressed in their presentations a strong group effort and strategically planned group approach. These words indicated that the group communicated well by referencing each other as a group in organizing tasks and completing tasks. A similar trend of group usage of these words appeared in the learning journals, which had 8% of the 100 most dominant words for each group except for Group 1, which had 4% (see Appendix E, Figure 5, Learning Journal Chart). This indicated that the external communication continued into the journaling process. The communication between group members was inclusive of other members of the group and part of the process. In the presentations, each member was able to describe in detail (Appendix I, Group Presentation 1) what jobs each student specifically worked on. The statements made by the students in the presentations supported the use of the group words, as indicated in the transcribed audio and journaling. In the group presentations, members of Groups 2 and 4 described the experiences of working collaboratively. Students described approaches with completing tasks, managing other members, and the workload of the group project. The descriptions also
    • 60   indicated how the roles shifted with responsibilities. This is evident in the following quotes: “A lot of times kids were out and others would have to pick up the slack. But we were able to do that pretty well.” (Group 2 Student) Groups showed a level of flexibility within their group process. Students picked up where others left off when absent on tasks: “We also found it better to not have just one person doing one thing but to have others helping.” (Group 4 Student) A statement by a Group 4 student described the beneficial process of having more than one person working on components in the project. This approach gave all group members an opportunity to participate in all aspects of the project and added group buy- in to the work tasks and completed tasks more efficiently: “Groups of two helped others stay on task. The team approach definitely worked.” (Student in Group 4) Group 4 members separated into smaller groups. They had two students working on Photoshop graphics and created a group of two for managing the Flash software (Jun, Zu- Yuan, & Yuren, 2009). This approach provided support for each individual for completing the main design and development. Technology. The data collected from the transcribe audio revealed a variety of technology words such as “jpeg,” drive,” “coding,” “file,” and “computer” which were a part of all groups choice of language at 8.25% of the 100 dominant categorized words (see Appendix G). These words were more dominant in Groups 2 and 4 (Appendix G) which indicated that those groups used the words more often in open communication. The sharing of these words developed a group knowledge and vocabulary, which assisted
    • 61   in sharing skills in a task (see Appendix I, Presentation Group 1) or defining the specific needs of the project. Each group had a different prevalence of technology vocabulary in group conversations (Appendix G, Audio Transcriptions Chart). Groups also had their own variety of vocabulary related to their projects (see Appendix H, Figures 10-14, Individual Group Word Audio trees, word queries). Group 1, which had 1.75% of 100 dominant words, used words like “Photoshop,” “folder,” “document,” “delete.” Group 2, which had 2.25% of 100 of the total dominant words, used words like “jpeg,” “code,” “flash,” “drive.” Group 3, which had 1.5% of 100 total dominant words, revealed “layer,” “Facebook,” “Photoshop,” and Group 4 had 2.75% of 100 total dominant words like “files,” “save,” and “Flash.” These were words categorized as related to technology but were not directly linked as requirements to the projects. These words indicated commonly used words such as “code” or “jpeg” which signified a more advancing vocabulary between students. A group member in Group 1 (Appendix I, Presentation Video Group 1) described used “Photoshop” to make their maps color-coded. This word appeared in the 1.75% of the most dominant 100 words related to technology for this group and became evidence for its importance. Group 3 used technology vocabulary such as “Facebook” (Appendix I, Presentation Video Group 3). The use of this type of vocabulary linked their language to the groups focus on conceptualizing and developing an application using a social media component. The word “save” linked to the experiences of Group 4 who described in their final presentation (Appendix I, Group 4 Presentation Video) issues experienced with saving project files. In Group 3 (Appendix I, Presentation Video Group 3), a student
    • 62   experienced issues with the “layer” component in “Photoshop.” Both of these words were prevalent (1.5% of the most dominant 100 words) in the categorization of technology vocabulary in the collection of audio for Group 3. These words represent students’ use of language related to technology beyond terms directly included in the instruction and goals of the projects. The use of these words was distinctly different from the project component words as these are words related to technology, which are not required in the project outcome. These words suggested the fluency and use of technology vocabulary beyond the project requirements. These words also related to issues related to problem solving and conceptualization with technology. Learning Behaviors Cohesiveness. All groups in this project cited the group construct as increasing their familiarity and cohesiveness with each other as they worked. During presentations, students made the following statements: “We worked well together and efficiently because we knew each other and it made it easier to communicate.” (Student in Group 1) “I think as a group we all worked cohesively because we all knew each other before the project and we all worked with each other and knew what we were capable of with specific skills.” (Group 4 Student) Students described the benefits of being familiar with each other in terms of skills and getting along with each other as a benefit of working on the project. It was important to the group learning process that students worked cohesively and could get along well enough to organize the project and complete tasks: “After brainstorming we had some kids go out and get the content.” (Group 2 Student)
    • 63   “We split up the work pretty evenly, mostly between content and flash.”(Group 4 Student) “Each person focused on one thing because they became experienced at doing that.” (Group 4 Student) “Everyone participated fairly equally...the leader definitely did his fair share.” (Group 2 Student) “We did not have any one good at Flash but we did have someone good at Photoshop and that expedited the process.” (Group 4 Student) Students described the participation as even throughout the project and described the process of splitting up the work in a fair way. This factor added to the overall cohesiveness of the groups and success of managing tasks. Group learning challenges. Groups 2, 3 and 4 described in final presentations the challenges with working with a variety of skill levels, work styles, and group sizes. The challenges described in the group process reflected the variables of group size and managing the motivation of group members to complete tasks. A student in Group 4 described: “The size of our group was definitely a challenge we had to overcome because it is hard to manage all those different people.” (Group 4 Student) “My number one problem was keeping other members on task. …I had real issues trying to get them to focus.” (Group 3 Student) These statements indicated the challenge group members found in organizing the work of the group members and reliance on them to complete tasks. These challenges influenced each group, as it was necessary to meet the needs of the project while also creating a quality product that addressed the authentic question: “Originally I made a lot of buttons but they got scrapped and replaced with someone else’s buttons.” (Group 2 Student) “We had to work through absences, but we were able to do it.” (Group 2 Student)
    • 64   Each group had their own specific internal issues that complicated their group process. The issues above related to the process of creating graphics and the absences of group members in Group 2. This group met issues with a high level of resiliency towards completing the project and the students’ statements affirm this. Project Challenges This section describes the variety of challenges related to the project. The themes of technology learning and time management using the statements of student participants appear below. Technology learning. Student groups were asked to complete the creation of an authentic mobile application using a variety of technologies. All groups addressed issues of the software, project components (buttons, layout), coding, and saving files in final presentations. Below are samples of the descriptions of group members’ experiences: “We did the buttons three times with three different designs. Each time we had to go back in and recode everything and debug. This would make the app a little better than it originally was and would make it look more professional looking even though we just began to learn to know what an app is.” (Group 2 Student) “We adapted the app twice, we laid down the planning of the Flash app and then we saved it in the wrong place and lost it. So we had to do it another time, but it kind of gave us practice with Flash so it was useful for the group.” (Group 4 Student) “We laid down the foundation of the flash app but we saved it in the wrong place and lost it. So we had to create it another time, but we knew how to do it from before so it did not take very long.” (Group 4 Student) As stated above, groups experienced an iterative process with designing components and adapting the design using technology. This process of correction provided the students problem- solving experiences and a deeper consideration for quality for the final product:
    • 65   “Over the course of this project many members of our group ran into technology issues. Personally, most of mine involved Photoshop. At the beginning of the project I had many problems rasterizing layers.” (Group 3 Student) “One of the problems was not saving files as .PSD’s (Photoshop files) so they could be later edited. This meant we had to go back and fix some things which took more time than it should have.” (Group 4 Student) “We had to use a lot of the teacher’s videos to help us with flash because none of us had any experience using it.” (Group 4 Student) Students described a variety of experiences with managing the use of Photoshop (Stitzer, 2005) and Flash software (Jun, Zu-Yuan, & Yuren, 2009). The experiences reflected the range of skills necessary to use the software efficiently and effectively to create graphics: “The most difficult part of this project was exporting. We had a lot of trouble with it at first but after we were able to figure it out we were able to do it 2 more times after debugging and creating an icon.” (Group 1 Student) “During exporting once we had a fatal error and we failed the exporting and we had to do that gain which was definitely a pain, it was awful.” (Group 4 Student) The process of exporting the mobile application (Franklin, 2011) was a specific learning challenge for students during the project. Exporting the application required a sequence of steps and challenged the groups’ ability to focus on a specific task to complete the project. Time Management . All groups in the study expressed issues with the length of the project. The following descriptions from group members describe the challenge of working within the allotted time to complete the project and implications it had on the group projects. “I think we could have changed more things also but due to the time constraint we had to cut some things out.” (Group 3 Student) “Maybe next time, if we had more time we could do better.” (Group 1 Student)
    • 66   “We would have liked to have had more time, but because we had so many road blocks in our way. We did not have a lot of time...it is a fairly flawless app but there are a couple issues that need to be smoothed out but are not really app breaking.” (Group 2 Student) Student time restrictions limited the ability for groups to linger for too long while working on any one component. This was evident in the statements of students who expressed disappointment in not having the time to be able to refine their final mobile application. “We attempted to add another thing...we wanted to make it so you could have a planner but we did not have enough time to add a database to the app.” (Group 2 Student) “Overall I think our app turned out pretty good for the time restrictions.” (Group 3 Student) “I really feel like with this project we did not have enough time to do it. If we had more time we could have made it much better exponentially better.” (Group 3 Student) Students described the benefits of the project as encouraging them to manage their time effectively and complete the required components. Students were motivated to stay on task and manage the variety of skills to complete the project. Role Development During this study, two dominant roles evolved from the work process of the groups. The development and execution of task based roles and evolving leadership roles as described by students in the final presentations below. Task based roles. Students in all four groups described the development of group roles based around task completion in their final presentations. All groups described technologically strong members who provided critical skills. The encouragement of task based learning roles in the groups was also in descriptions by all
    • 67   groups in the final presentations. Examples described of task roles include presenters, software experts, and researchers: “A big help to the group, he was the technological guy so he was really good with Flash and partly the reason we were able to finish this project.” (Group 2 Student) “I was designated as the primary Photoshop person for our project. I came up with many of the graphics that came up in our project.” (Group 3 Student) “My job was to design headers using Photoshop and gather other key information for the app.” (Group 1 Student) “I created the easily readable maps which were color coded in Photoshop.” (Group 1 Student) “I was designated as the best at Flash so I created the Flash files and made the app itself and put all of the graphics that everyone else makes into the app.” (Group 3 Student) Specific technology roles evolved in the group work process. As described in the students’ statements, specific roles for the use of the Flash (Jun, Zu-Yuan & Yuren, 2009) and Photoshop (Stitzer, 2005) software evolved. This provided stability for the group in the area of technology skills so other members could acquire content and conceptualize ideas: “We had teams who were good at Photoshop and they would do the Photoshop and we had people who would be good at Flash take the Photoshop and integrate it into the app.” (Group 4 Student) “We also found it better to not have just one person do the work but to have others help them do it.” (Group 4 Student) “We came up with most of the content found on the app and the others put it all together.” (Group 3 Student) “Me and Group Member D were more of jack of all trades type group members; we worked on anything that the other group members who were working on it Photoshop or Flash could not work on.” (Group 3 Student)
    • 68   Statements from students support the use of groups of two students working on tasks such as finding content and working with the software together. The group approach was beneficial for groups to address learning specific tasks and did not leave individuals to learn on their own without group support. Leadership roles. The student statements among all groups indicated leadership roles were present within each group. Student statements described how group members’ leadership roles were determined and the process of assigning tasks: “I took on the role of overseer of everything and tried to delegate everyone else productively so we could make the most use of our time.” (Group 2 Student) “I was also sort of designated as the leader just for personality, it was never really something that was explicitly mentioned, but it just sort of naturally occurred that way.” (Group 3 Student) “The leader of this group helped assign jobs to people which was good but…all in all everyone worked to contribute in this project and make the final project not just one person.” (Group 2 Student) “Sometimes we would get off task and he would help with the efficiency of the group.” (Group 4 Student) “Group Member E was the leader of this group. He helped assign jobs to people, which was good.” (Group 2 Student) Leaders took on roles that assisted in assigning jobs, encouraging productivity and established how groups used their time: “We had an official layout workload for the group. We had teams that were skilled at Photoshop they would do the Photoshop. People who were skilled at Flash would take the things created in Photoshop and integrate them. Then everyone would report to the leader who was person A. He gave everyone tasks on what to do.” (Group 4 Student) Leadership in groups established an organized way of working and held accountability to other members in the group. Leadership roles also recognized the abilities of others in key skill areas.
    • 69   Evaluating Final Products The results related to the authentic rubric, students addressing problem solving, task factors and indicators of success are included below. Authentic rubric. All groups produced a final mobile application that addressed the components of the authentic rubric (see Appendix C). Addressing the rubric produced a range of projects in the study. All groups described in their presentations (see Appendix I, Group Presentations 1, 2, 3, and 4) the context of their project and the intended users. This produced a variety of project outcomes such as an app designed for keeping up with homework (see Appendix I, Group Presentation 3) or an app that helps students and visitors navigate the school with interactive maps (see Appendix I, Group Presentation 1). Below are two statements from members from Groups 1 and 2. These statements describe the addressing of real world needs such as user content and professional design appearance: “Overall our application is an easy and quick way to get all the information you need as a student in the high school in one helpful package.” (Group 1 Student) “We thought that for the user interface it would be better to make it more professional looking.” (Group 3 Student) Groups addressed the authentic question by making professional looking mobile applications containing content related to real world needs. Problem solving. All groups described methods and strategies for solving problems and collaborating effectively (see Appendix I, Group Presentations). Specifically, the development of these projects required explicit technology skills (see Presentation of Tools) to complete successful projects in a timely manner. The groups’ final projects demonstrated an advanced level of problem-solving skills, higher order thinking, and the production of knowledge rather than the
    • 70   reproduction of knowledge, significant student time, collaboration, effective performers, polished products, and depth of knowledge: “We had an official layout workload for the group. We had teams that were skilled at Photoshop they would do the Photoshop. People who were skilled at Flash would take the things created in Photoshop and integrate them. Then everyone would report to the leader who was person A. He gave everyone tasks on what to do.” (Group 4 Student) Groups created teams to address specific problems or required tasks. Conceptualization of projects drove the requirements for tasks and the necessity for creative approaches: “There were three technologies we integrated into this app. We included buttons, which linked to websites; we also included sounds when you clicked the buttons, at first we chose a laser noise and then fixed it. Our third technology was the pinch and zoom in which you can see on the maps.” (Group 1 Student) Each group selected technologies they felt worked with their design. Student groups had a variety of choices but based their selections on addressing the needs of the mobile application. Task Factors. The task factors represent what the group created as an advanced response to the central authentic question. Groups provided a complex project in which students answered all of the required questions and solved and addressed the multiple steps necessary to complete their project. The groups satisfied all integrated forms of assessment. Groups 1, 2, and 3 presented an advanced response to the central question by creating a final mobile application that was planned effectively, integrated technology, and presented effectively (see Appendix I, Presentations, Groups 1, 2, 3 video). Group 4’s final application, even though it contained a majority of the components (see rubric in Appendix C), was not an advanced response. In the presentation meeting, the group admitted not meeting all components at the completion
    • 71   of the project (Appendix I, Group 4 Presentation Video). Indicators of Success Indicators of success in this project included the groups’ ability to create an advanced valid and reliable product that addressed the needs of the question (Herrington & Herrington, 1998; 2006). Other indicators included an advanced knowledge of specific technology based on skills shown in the final product. The final projects indicators included technology skills, fluency, leadership roles, group learning approaches, and project management skills. The phenomenon of the group, a new awareness of mobile technology, and the appreciation of how to design and develop emerged in the project presentations (Appendix I, Final Group Presentation Videos 1, 2, 3, and 4). In this section, the comments expressed by students revealed the deeper benefits of group learning with technology: “We use apps all the time, but we never think of what goes into making them.” (Group 4 Student) “I really enjoyed this class.” (Group 2 Student) “It was a lot of fun to actually see our app on the device. We got to test it and play with the app we created ourselves.” (Group 1 Student) “Overall working on this app was a very fun and informative experience. We all learned so much and will be able to apply this to everyday life now.” (Group 1 Student) “It put it into perspective and we just appreciate it more.” (Group 4 Student) Students made many positive statements about their experience creating mobile applications. They expressed a greater appreciation for the work that goes into the technology and the satisfaction of seeing their designs uploaded onto the device:
    • 72   “I feel like we gained a lot of knowledge from this though because we started off from scratch. We did not know anything about app making.” (Group 4 Student) “I greatly enjoyed working with the group and thought it was a great learning experience for all of us.” (Group 1 Student) Statements from students reinforced the benefits of the project curriculum and positive experiences of working in groups: “If we could do this app over we would change a few things. First we would make the buttons more sleek looking, we would also change the layout and make everything look cleaner.” (Group 1 Student) “We definitely feel accomplished because we learned how to use Flash and got better at Photoshop.” (Group 4 Student) “One of the things was the app did not turn out exactly as we wanted but that is understandable as some of the things were really advanced techniques.” (Group 3 Student) “We had some trouble in the beginning but it ended up being fine.” (Group 4 Student) This project introduced students to the mobile applications curriculum and the potential exciting benefits of learning about the technology. Students did express issues with the design of their applications and the groups’ process of creating them. At the completion of the project, students identified that there were a variety of components to manage to complete the mobile application. Overall Themes of the Study In this study, the importance of task-based and leadership roles to complete projects and learn new skills emerged as a central theme. This theme appeared in all the students’ descriptions of their process in their presentation videos. All presentation videos indicated the importance of leadership roles in managing the project components as well as the completion of technology tasks. This role evolved differently in each
    • 73   group from an individual to team approach and expressed openly in the presentations as playing an important role in the completion of complicated technology tasks or for sharing critical information. Sharing of technology vocabulary throughout the work periods became an emerging theme. As students acquired new skills and completed tasks, the necessity of developing a deeper knowledge of the technology vocabulary required of the project was prevalent in the audio transcribed data. These words revealed a shared experience and collaborative approach at understanding the central components of the project. Final projects using the authentic PBL with the technology curriculum expressed a variety of uses of multimedia tools and applied technology. Each group created a final mobile application that addressed a real world need with the application of design and multimedia software skills. Projects included a variety of technologies such as buttons, zooming effects, interactive maps, animations, and graphics. Groups expressed ownership of the learning and final projects in the presentations. Summary The results of this research indicated the groups in this study expressed a variety of group approaches and appreciation levels with technology used in the Project Based Learning curriculum. Out of the phenomenon of the student-centered PBL, groups using technology task- based and leadership roles evolved and assisted in the management of projects and the completion of tasks. Each group conceptualized a mobile application using a variety of multimedia tools and envisioned a variety of solutions to the authentic question. Group members expressed themes related to familiarity and cohesiveness
    • 74   within their groups and cited the needs of group management and the continual sharing of vocabulary related to technology terms and the project process. In chapter five, the analysis of these results will be discussed, conclusions drawn and implications identified.
    • 75   CHAPTER FIVE: SUMMARY, CONCLUSIONS, AND RECOMMEDATIONS This chapter provides a summary of results, conclusions, and recommendations. Beginning is a summary of the main points from this study; then, conclusions are drawn, and implications discussed for both practice and future research. Recommendations for future research conclude the chapter. Summary The aim of this study was to explore the evolving themes, experiences, and decisions depicted in the language of students as they negotiated a final project using computer technology tools while participating in a Project Based Learning curriculum project. The instructor has limited access to the communication that students use when negotiating solutions to problems in a PBL environment using technology. The language students used in PBL with technology, (the exchange of information which is critical to completing tasks on the way to completion of final products such as written products, portfolios’ check lists, teacher observations and group projects) was analyzed and is now better understood (Olfos & Zuluntay, 2007). The research study involved groups of high school students enrolled in a web design class for the first semester of the 2013 school year. The groups were cohorts of students followed over 13 classroom sessions. The benefits of PBL curriculum for group projects using technology found in this research were group approaches with the consideration of continually improving the project and also an increased awareness and appreciation for the technology used in the project. These findings are consistent with Hernandez et al.’s (2009) research concluding that a specific PBL strategy using technology helped assist students in knowledge acquisition in the core subject. In addition, the project based model also improved
    • 76   attitude towards learning history with the use of technology assistance. This current research is similar to the improved awareness and understandings of technology students developed during the process of creating mobile applications. This study’s findings, as to the use of language related to project process in groups, is consistent with the findings of Hakkarainen (2009), which provided the idea that in developing PBL curriculum, it is important to embrace small learning groups for learning context, collaboration, conversational, and emotional involvement components. The indication of the words used between participants indicated a fertile environment for communication related to the context of learning and group collaboration. The group dynamic in PBL was encouraged in this study with the development of task-based and leadership roles in the process of completing projects. The influence of group learning references in the audio data collected during work periods reinforced the group dynamic. The conceptualization of highly interactive multimedia based projects by groups, which meet the requirements of a rubric requiring advanced technology, problem solving and collaboration, aligns with the research of Bell (2010), who determined that “PBL promotes social learning as children practice and become proficient with the twenty-first-century skills of communication, negotiation, and collaboration” (p. 40). As students develop roles and share tasks they are learning skills that are critical employment skills and improve technology fluency. PBL curriculum promoted conversation and communication amongst students as they delegated tasks, and developed a sense of familiarity and cohesiveness in student centered groups. Scenarios requiring the management of group members to complete the required project tasks were also prevalent. Group members shared critical vocabulary
    • 77   related to technology and the process of the project in student centered learning environments. The findings in this study revealed the benefits of student centered learning groups that encouraged communication and conversation. These findings are consistent with the research of Kan (2011), who concluded that student centered environments were beneficial for the development and sharing of student e-portfolios to display their work. Student centered learning using technology naturally fosters a community of task building and fluency with tools. The outcomes of students’ participation in a Project Based Learning curriculum included students’ use of technology-based vocabulary during the research period and a range of outcomes related to answering the authentic question that addressed problem solving, task factors, indicators of success while using technology. These outcomes are similar to the findings of Mioduser & Betzer (2007), whose research indicated an increase in technology skill development in PBL environments and better motivation to problem solve and work through projects. Their research showed that engaging students with technology, while still increasing skill development, is a major benefit of using a PBL curriculum with technology-based curriculum. These findings parallel the benefits indicated in this study. The variety of multimedia used by students in this study to complete their projects expressed the benefits of PBL environments by encouraging participants to show their learning with a variety of technology tools. This result is supported in the research of Bell (2010) who stated that the application of various types of technologies in group settings empowers students to realize appropriate uses of technology.
    • 78   The final product outcomes in this research represent the combination of group process, technology, and addressing the authentic question in the PBL curriculum. Students were able to develop authentic projects which were the results of a variety of technology based skills, project management and conceptualization. These skills appear in the research of Garran (2008), who described the PBL approach with an authentic goal. In Garran’s research, authentic PBL curriculums enabled students to highlight a wide variety of skills across disciplines. The influence of authentic strategies in the students’ projects played a critical role in this research. This description of the context of authentic learning was also prevalent in the variety of approaches and use of technology revealed in the final mobile application designs and choice of technology used by students. The research of Yoon Jin, and Hyun-Hwa (2012) also expressed the critical benefits of authentically driven curriculum. This research described the benefit to students of participating in real world scenarios with guidance from the instructor and collaboratively with small groups to experience how world experiences can inform learners. These experiences were driven even further with the integration of technology and the variety of skills beneficial to students for problem solving and skill development and fluency with software and vocabulary. Discussion of Results Research Question 1: What are the benefits of a Project Based Learning curriculum in group projects using technology? Student themes in the choice of words in the transcription of group work presented in the transcribed audio recordings indicated the level of group learning and communication encouraged by the PBL environment. The audio transcription data results indicated there were benefits of group work revealed within the context of group
    • 79   projects using technology provided rich environments for discussions and exchanges of information within groups. Students verbally shared knowledge to complete tasks and developed a reliance on each other. Relying on each other encouraged communication between students and improved problem solving. Individual students shared critical vocabulary benefitting the completion of projects using technology. As projects progressed, sharing of technology and project related terms improved student understanding of technology terms between group members. Sharing skills enhanced the efficiency, understanding, and motivation of the group to complete the project. Groups in the PBL technology curriculum managed the required tasks with technology and completed the self-directed and group-conceptualized projects. Groups’ self-direction and application of language determined the management and execution of the projects. Collaboration of group members was critical in PBL curriculum for decision making in the conceptualization of projects, directing task delegation and developing strategies for understanding the software components and applications of tools for the project. In this research, groups were self-formed and represented a range of ages from 14 to 18. Each group collaboratively decided the strategies to complete necessary tasks for their project. Strategies were largely based on leadership decisions by group members to organize key understandings of the project and how to use the software. Management of the components requiring planning, layout and technology integration were also made collaboratively. When groups decided on specific decisions they had buy in from all members or deferred to leadership in which they entrusted with the understanding of the
    • 80   technical components. Group members were more motivated to work when they felt their voices had been heard and understood. The approaches varied from small two person teams, reliance on individual skills with software and shared delegation among all tasks. The PBL model encouraged groups to manage the delegation of skill tasks to match the goals of each group’s final projects. Language and the use of specific vocabulary related to their projects played an important role in Project Based Learning. PBL curriculum sets the stage for intense conceptualization and problem solving opportunities. Student groups can gain deep insight into specific components of the planning, integrating, testing, and the presentation process because they are central to managing the requirements and determining the quality of their project. The variety of words describing the process of project development and project components words collected from the audio data from this research identified the importance language choice played in the collaborative process of PBL as well as the ways these choices influenced the quality of the cumulative projects. Students used language to share skills, negotiate problems, and manage the variety of stages of learning during the project. When student language focuses on project components and process, students are on task and care deeply about their group result. Research Question 2: How does a Project Based Learning curriculum encourage the group dynamics of learning collaboratively with technology? Learning journals indicated the vocabulary and the management process reflected among group members in PBL curriculum. In these findings multiple roles and processes used for decision-making emerged in the conceptualization of projects, directing task
    • 81   delegation and developing strategies for understanding the software components and applications of the tools for the project. Students shared knowledge and strategies for problem solving in the PBL curriculum. Students developed solutions to an authentic question in a PBL environment, which encouraged a sharing of group ideas about the project. Students developed a vision together and took ownership of the project. Groups were self-managed and organized the order of work in each phase of the PBL curriculum. In order to create a product that expressed a shared vision it was necessary to organize ideas and the tasks. In some groups, the occasional absence influenced collaboration and the amount of work completed. Skill roles such as “Photoshop Person” became embedded in the process of the group. When one person was not available to work, others needed to step in to do the job; this kept the project moving forward and managed time efficiently. This urged participants to step into new roles in the completion of tasks. Often, roles that needed filling were not the ones to which students were accustomed. One of the benefits of the PBL curriculum is that the variety of circumstances challenged students to work in changing conditions. This is important because students become flexible and can learn more than one job and are able to address others roles in the project. Research Question 3: How does Project Based Learning curriculum promote conversations and communication among students as they delegate tasks? Student artifacts collected from the three stages of project based learning curriculum (Planning, Technology/Multimedia Software Integration and Presentation) represent the full range of components of Herrington & Herrington’s (1998; 2006) Authentic Learning Rubric. Projects revealed the necessity of communication in task
    • 82   completion, completion of task-based lessons, and the inclusion of real world skills in final project artifacts due to the creation of groups and teams in the PBL curriculum. Groups were required to create an authentic product that addressed creating a mobile application for the school community. Groups collaborated to develop projects answering the needs of a specific set of users such as students, faculty, or parents. Group members translated the needs of the user into a graphical interface with integrated technology and content specific to the users evident in the planning graphics and final presentations. The groups were also required to integrate three required forms of integrated technology into a minimum of a four-page mobile application layout. This technology came in the form of active buttons, pinch and zoom graphics, animations, sound effects, swipe effects, web links. These outcomes, particularly the final applications use of technology and design are based on decisions and collaborative discussions within each group. The variety of user interface designs were influenced by the needs each group identified for the users of the mobile application. The strongest designs and final projects were in groups that showed clear communication and leadership roles. Meaningful communication in groups addressed the needs of the project and helped organize roles and requirements efficiently. Team approaches enabled group members to develop task and leadership roles to complete projects more efficiently. The supportive environment encouraged student sharing and the acquisition of a wide range of skills related to the project. Students displayed their skills during the presentation of final projects with other members describing the context of their group learning with technology.
    • 83   The authentic rubric is a teaching tool that assists teachers to evaluate the success of authentic projects. The first component of the rubric was “context” (Appendix C) which was the ability of the group to create an advanced project that emphasizes the challenge of answering the authentic question. All the groups developed a project addressing the question, but it was the expansion of group ideas related to the user’s experiences with the mobile application, the most successful outcome. One can attribute this success to the careful planning and collaboration of students to consider how others would interact with the application. The section of the rubric related to problem solving skills (Authentic Rubric, Appendix C) asks the teacher to evaluate the level of problem solving from minimal, basic and advanced. The authentic question of “How do we create a mobile application for our high school community?” encouraged groups to design multiple approaches to answer the question. Multiple approaches required groups to learn new software and collaborate with peers on how to address specific content and visual issues with their design. Groups produced original mobile applications that addressed the authentic question and had interactive features such as animations, linked documents and user interfaces centered on specific users. Group success with problem solving can be attributed to sharing of ideas in the groups and coming to selective decisions on how the application was going to be designed. Students also showed patience in learning new software and group motivation to see the outcome of their planning. “Task Factors” (Appendix C) evaluates the wide range of responses to the authentic question. Each group in this project had a mobile application that addressed the authentic question with a creative response. Groups used interactive maps with color
    • 84   codes, animated features with linked calendars, and pinch and zoom features. One group even focused on the mobile application as an opportunity to create an online community for students. These responses went beyond expectations and their creativity and approaches were original. The best responses utilized an original approach with interface design and content addressing the intended user. Students produced a range of responses to the authentic question by targeting a specific targeted user well as opposed to a larger group with less impact. “Indicators of Success” (Appendix C) are a group’s ability to address the authentic question and create a valid and reliable product that shows an advanced use of technology. All final applications indicated a high use of technology whether it was integrating buttons or adding swipe gestures to features. The students were required to have a minimum of three technologies in their design and this added to the embedded approach of technology in the applications through all the groups. Including a requirement of technology in this project ensures that students are adapting ideas to work with technology throughout the project. The most impressive “indicators of success” were groups who had streamlined their designs and concepts to include the required technology as opposed to an “add on” to the project. Having required technology nested into the curriculum allowed those groups to consider its practical use in the application and challenges their learning and problem solving. The creation of groups and teams in the PBL curriculum enabled group members to develop task and leadership roles to complete projects more efficiently. It is in this supportive environment that students shared a wide range of skills related to the project. Students in the PBL curriculum are able to highlight skills and share with other members
    • 85   in the context of the curriculum. PBL curriculum promotes communication and conversations by having students develop and direct their own learning. In this process, the role of leadership becomes a critical in the success of delegating the necessary tasks to finish the project. Without the role of group leadership the communication necessary to assign tasks, approve completion and levels of quality of necessary components, the group project would have limited success. The role of leadership was a critical byproduct of the construct of the PBL curriculum and became necessary for groups to successfully delegate tasks. Groups with students who had the strongest software skills were able to delegate and complete technology driven tasks faster and focus on project design. Groups whose leadership could count on the software driven components to be completed could also have more meaningful discussions about the organization of content and purpose of the mobile application. Groups that needed to take time to learn the software components were not efficient at completing specific tasks and could not move to the next phase of their project as quickly. The strongest groups managed their time effectively and developed strategies to work within their strengths. Efficient groups managed their time and benefitted from having more time to communicate and problem solve. Students really enjoyed the planning phases of the project and were eager to move past technology challenges to see outcomes. Motivated students were eager to learn new software so that they could the see their final project as a “mobile app” on a mobile device. Research Question 4: What outcomes will emerge as a result of students’ participation in a Project Based Technology curriculum?
    • 86   A wide range of projects and outcomes evolved out of this collection of findings. Individual students acquired important vocabulary, technology skills and leadership experiences with the construct of a project based technology curriculum. Ideally, students were able to elaborate upon existing skills and apply a new context for the knowledge or learn entirely new skills in a supportive collaborative environment. Artifacts such as final presentations and final mobile applications revealed the technology based outcomes students created. The outcomes were the result of the work done by students in a single classroom environment in which had all the multimedia software and tools to complete the final product. Results within the final artifacts made direct connections to the groups’ conceptualization of an authentic product and the groups’ abilities to complete outcomes based on task driven assignments. Students design vision is evident in the planning graphics. Groups were able to isolate the need for specific software tasks and gathering of content based on the initial planning stages of the mobile application. The groups needed to think about who was using the application, what content it needed, and the conditions for using it. Early designs included color schemes, buttons, and basic graphics. Even though many of the planning graphics reflect the final mobile applications, groups did adjust designs according to integration of technology and additional content. The writing in journals reflected the dominant use of language within the group processes using technology from an individual perspective and the necessity of the group communication to complete tasks. Journals created an opportunity for students to express their personal opinions on the group process outside of the group audio. Journal writing
    • 87   reaffirmed the groups use of vocabulary related to technology and the continuation of the use of language related to the “project process” of the project. As a data collection source outside of the group construct, it reaffirmed the trends seen in the group audio collection. Groups in the PBL technology curriculum managed the required tasks with technology and completed the self-directed and group conceptualizations. The groups’ self-direction and application of language determined management and execution of the project. Groups relied heavily on the verbal commands of individuals and leadership roles to collaborate, share, and manage how they executed the project. Groups used language related to project components and project process. The use of these words “productive,” “managed,” and “working” revealed the group strategies and problem solving approaches. Groups also revealed words in their language related to software issues or expanded technology vocabulary (JPEG, File). The audio collection of data provided a variety of results related to project outcomes, group communication, collaboration trends, and choice of vocabulary in a PBL curriculum using technology. The results indicated a strong reliance on the groups’ ability to conceptualize a project and to manage tasks and skills when completing an authentically driven project. The findings explored the rich learning environment embedded with necessary vocabulary and team roles in its process to complete group projects with technology. It was clear in the final planning graphics and statements of students in the final presentations that there was a variety of leadership approaches, mobile design strategies and integration of technology produced across the groups. The largest differentiation in
    • 88   final applications is in the approach of delivering content to the users. Groups produced advanced strategies for engaging users with animated shapes, pinch and zoom maps and input forms. These designs reveal the benefits of the authentically driven PBL curriculum with technology. Students had the choice of all the components that a user of the mobile application would encounter and the responsibility of creating an exciting user interface with relevant content. A wide range of projects and outcomes evolved out of this research. Individual students acquired important vocabulary, technology skills and leadership experiences within the construct of a project based technology curriculum with technology. Students were able to elaborate upon existing skills and apply a new context for the knowledge or learn entirely new skills in a supportive, collaborative environment. The greatest strength of PBL curriculum is the flexibility it allows students to work on a variety of skills and sustained inquiry. Students develop projects that naturally expand beyond the requirements. Students develop very personalized group learning experiences that expand their base knowledge and vocabulary related to technology. Students also discovered a new appreciation of mobile application design and development. The appreciation comes from a new understanding of the process and time necessary to make mobile applications. Outcomes in a Project Based Technology curriculum are rich in conceptualization and integrate a variety of technology-based tools creating electronic media for presentation and interaction. The self-directed model of PBL enabled students to envision their projects beyond the traditional classroom. Projects included a variety of software skills and design skills to address the authentic question properly. In this
    • 89   research, students created a real world mobile application that provided a variety of responses to match intended use and aesthetic goals. Student projects were self-directed and fulfilled a real world need. The benefits of self directed PBL projects are that students are able to focus on the product outcomes and identify the skills necessary to complete the project. Students are urged to use skills and find a role in the collaborative process. Students in this project expanded their learning of technology skills by sharing experiences with others. Some students improved their ability to lead or manage projects, this occurred because these roles presented themselves in the groups. The projects included the necessity to manage different multi/hypermedia software components to complete the design and layout. Students created a variety of designs, integrating color schemes, layouts, logos, and graphics. Students also needed to design a plan for intended user interaction and the perceived resources of the user. These task components satisfy a range of skills. The compounded skills required in project based technology projects required phases of planning, phases of technology integration and a planned presentation requiring project testing and preparation for explaining process and learned skills. The students in this project designed layouts with the consideration of the user of the mobile application. This included choosing technology to access content and consideration of how the user will interact with the content. Students’ inquiry into answering the authentic question inspired the level in which the groups conceptualized their projects. In most cases, students were working outside of their knowledge base with technology. Working outside of their strength areas improved fluency using technology
    • 90   tools and improved student awareness of the capability of the tools. Students expressed in verbal statements a new appreciation for the work that goes into mobile applications. Students acquired new skills with technology tools and the ability to conceptualize and create real world products with the tools. Implications of the Study Implications for the Field of Education PBL environments can occur in a variety of setting with and without the use of technology and multimedia tools. It is important to encourage and allow time for proper group collaboration and planning time in PBL projects. This time can help students better conceptualize projects and plan further steps efficiently. In this process, management roles and leadership structures evolve naturally and provide the structure and support for learning. The encouragement of team approaches and paired learning is beneficial for the acquisition of critical skills and creation of project components. Team approaches encourages healthy leadership models and develop group rapport. It is suggested integrating instruction in the PBL curriculum with technology in phases of project development such as planning processes, technology integration, or sample component lessons. Division of the curriculum into phases helps solidify project tasks as well as group goals. It is important that practitioners monitor groups during the phases of project idea development and the challenges the planning phases present for students. Monitoring the project development planning phase helps groups develop projects that challenge them with learning tasks and provides structure for moving to the implementation of technology in PBL curriculum with technology.
    • 91   In this research, revolving leadership roles from group interaction in the Project Based Learning curriculum developed in a variety of ways. In most groups, the knowledge of specific technology skills influenced leadership. It is an implication for educators who have group projects to have a strategy for implementing leadership roles into the project. Educators could assign roles or impart revolving roles based on the tasks, which may keep interaction more balanced. Teachers should take the opportunity during instruction to suggest students define roles in projects. This could include suggestions for sharing skills or leading their group during instruction. Students who are experts in specific software or technical knowledge are often very willing to share their skills. Utilizing these students empowers them with their skills but also models for other students the benefits of sharing skills through leadership. Teachers should check in with groups and facilitate the discussion of “who is the leader?” in the prospective tasks. The teacher’s role at facilitating students to take on leadership roles is critical, teachers need to highlight to the importance of taking initiatives in groups to create high quality products. Educators should develop planning lessons challenging students to think beyond the traditional rubric for projects with technology integration. Project development should go beyond simply evaluating technology tools and skills but also understanding software components. Students should have opportunities to define their roles in projects and problem solve with the use of the tools. Empowering students to share ideas and develop solutions to challenging authentic projects produces engaging and productive classroom experiences.
    • 92   In this study, one group conceptualized the project without knowing that they were going to develop the actual product. Their design was the strongest in terms of conceptualization. One can assume that students should be encouraged to think outside the limits of a project’s technological constraints. Encouraging abstract and authentic thinking by engaging in brainstorming sessions should keep students captivated with real world models of project planning. Educators should also provide examples from other students or industry examples of projects that expand a student’s preconception of assignments. Real world case studies and sample projects can help students better understand the challenges and benefits of addressing real “authentic questions.” Bringing an expert into the classroom to speak to students or travelling to a business can allow students to see the work environment of professionals in the field. The connections between learning and the real world applications of similar work can inspire students to develop skills and expand learning opportunities beyond the classroom. Teachers should model a deep engagement with technology as they design lessons and present ideas in the classroom. Students should be immersed in a classroom environment with an advanced use of technology with the use of multimedia and hypermedia such as instructional videos, interactive websites, Web 2.0 and 3.0 technologies. Advocating students to plan projects outside of guidelines and restraints allows for free flowing conceptualization and matching the design to a real world scenario. In this study, groups developed a viable product addressing an authentic question to produce real world results. Groups centralized their work based on the question and their final projects. It was expected that groups would address the question with their work, and
    • 93   variety of results was based on the level they addressed the authentic question. For educators, using an authentic question to drive project development is a challenging component to help students manage. Authentic questions not only challenge students to meet expectations, but also challenge educators who develop them to be beneficial for students to meet real world goals but also encompass a variety of necessary skills. Groups in this study provided a limited amount of group learning references in both the transcribed audio and learning journals. These were words indicating a referral to other members or the group such as “everyone,” “together,” and “group.” The limited use of these types of words as opposed to the other word categories suggests that participants may have relied more on one to one communication or individualized learning approaches as opposed to a whole group, collaborative approach. The lack of group learning references could be due to the level of technology knowledge or the positioning of leadership roles. Educators need to encourage a more collaborative learning approach for group projects. Time may need building into group projects to ensure communication and sharing of ideas into curriculums. Addressing the use of a PBL curriculum using technology requires consideration of the tools students are encouraged to use. Students should be encouraged to apply technology that enables them to create and design with graphics and animation (Photoshop, Flash, animation, video editing software). Students’ creativity with tools will drive lessons and create dynamic projects. Teachers’ roles are to require a specific level of integration of technology but not to disable the desired creativity and conceptualization of projects that students can create.
    • 94   Real world examples of existing projects can inspire and drive the creative process. When students have powerful examples of the potential of a project, they can apply a deeper level of meaning and integration of the tools to envision their projects. Educators should research real world technology such cloud storage, multimedia graphic software, mobile tablet devices and interactive teaching hardware such as response systems or active boards. Teachers should concentrate on exposing students to practical applications and use of tools. Participants in this study formed groups. They self-selected their working groups based on their familiarity with each other and the desire to work with their choices. This decision influenced the choice of leadership roles and had an effect on the level of group communication between participants. Students felt a level of confidence with their leaders and group members based on their skill levels with the software. This enabled the groups to conceptualize on a higher level. Groups also desired to work with friends and those they felt they could easily collaborate with based on personality. Students felt it a necessary component to the project that they were comfortable sharing ideas and skills with friends. This approach encouraged group collaboration, which drove the organization of task delegation. In the planning process of group project work, educators may want to consider the technical skills and leadership skills of students related to the project. It is important to understand that the group may not always communicate openly in their work group and transfer of knowledge may be subtle. Based on this research, encouraging students who are comfortable and friendly with each other creates an open and easy working dynamic. This can be suggested to educators in classrooms wherein the skill levels of students are
    • 95   balanced. Prioritizing the groups based on familiarity and comfort with each other can be a great way to infuse communication and sharing of learned skills. Implications for Technology Teachers In this study, the students’ mobile application designs were similar in layout and page orientation even amongst groups who had very little knowledge of the progress or design of others designs. Results of this study implies that other technology teachers may want to build in time into the curriculum to have groups share the progress of their designs and development. Technology educators should embrace the collaborative approach to reviewing projects and student learning processes throughout the process of instruction. This adds to the level of student engagement with the process of technology skills often perceived as learned in individual isolation. Technology teachers should encourage the creation of final presentation screencast assessment videos by students and encourage students to share skills acquired in the process of their learning. Evaluating how students acquire and share technology skills should be an important part of the technology teachers’ curriculum and instructional design process. This could serve as an evaluation component to the project or self-assessment of the use of certain tools. Allowing students to share ideas and choices may encourage them to push their ideas beyond initial conceptualizations and influence the use of powerful software and media tools to create projects. This study used a variety of multimedia software (Photoshop, Flash). Students had to incorporate the learning of skill fluency with these tools while working on a collaborative group project. Students can expand on their fluency and skills with technology tools without direct instruction. Technology teachers should embrace the use
    • 96   of group projects to improve technology skills using multimedia with students and provide opportunities for them to create expansive self-driven projects. The participants in this research study organized the groups on their own. Each group had a range of technology skills based on the skills of the group members. The variety of skills influenced the success of group projects and the leadership dynamics of each group. It would be advisable for technology teachers who intend on using group projects to conduct pre-assessments of student skills prior to group formation. This would help with creating more balanced skill sets in the groups. Technology teachers may also want to evaluate potential leadership roles in the project and assign students to these roles to challenge their abilities. Technology teachers should consider the layout of their classroom environment to enable more classroom collaboration with the software and to increase student engagement. Students should feel comfortable and free to share ideas and create groups to learn software skills and exchange ideas. Areas in which groups of 4-5 students can comfortably sit and view a single monitor and split into smaller groups of 2-3 students and work on separate computers with a shared drive or cloud computing feature to save group projects and planning files is ideal. Technology educators should consider the use of video creation tools such as screencasts to create web based instructional videos and tutorials to enhance student learning. Instructional screencasts enable access to the videos at any time and the ability to modify students’ personal instruction by allowing them to fast forward and rewind instructions at their own pace. In this research, students utilized web based videos to reiterate instructional software lessons and also to present final projects.
    • 97   Technology educators must continually research optimum technology software and current hardware to ensure they are providing a work environment for their students similar to existing businesses that create multimedia projects. Student learning with technology needs to be comparable with the work environments for which they are being prepared. This includes having industry standard software for design and development of media projects. Technology instructors should embody a commitment to software that empowers students to collaborate and share projects in virtual environments such as web sites, mobile applications, multi-user games and environments. Implications for Students In this study, students developed projects in which they had to rely on the knowledge and skills of their group. Students needed to supply the leadership, management, and technology skills to complete tasks. Students should be held accountable for the leading and learning of their groups. The inclusion of these skills in curriculum empowers students with employability skills that include the use of modern multimedia software tools. The students’ awareness of their accountability to each other and the requirements of the project components provide a strong indicator of success. Some student groups developed projects challenging the typical response to the authentic question. The implications for student groups who challenge the traditional response are that curriculum should embrace their desire to create beyond the limits of assessments and help them envision larger projects. Students should embrace curriculum that push them beyond their perceived limits. When students are able to own their projects meaning in terms of conceptualization and can envision how the project will serve a specific role in the modern world, they have adapted their own learning beyond the classroom. They have acquired a professional level of thinking which improves
    • 98   considerations for the choice of tools and outcomes. Students involved with authentic projects work beyond perceived limits, seeing the project as more of an expression of their skills instead of an evaluation of their skills. The approach of students in addressing the question reveals the strengths of their perception of the needs of the question as well as how the curriculum challenged the skills of the students. Students’ response in terms of design of mobile interfaces indicated in this research that the students needed lessons to inspire individualistic expression. Students may not have found the individual lessons leading up to the final project as inspiring as the group work, but their skills translated into the expectations for the project. Student projects ideally should represent a range of the skills of the group. The similarity in design reveals that further measures may be necessary to encourage students to step forward and develop more conceptually challenging designs. Students should, however, outwardly contribute their ideas fully when working in group projects and use the variety of opinions and ideas as an opportunity to modify their project creations. Student presentations indicated statements of students who expressed a true appreciation of the mobile application authentic project and a commitment to seeing the project in its final form. Student expressed a real understanding the value the curriculum presented to them for acquiring real world technology skills. Student groups completed the project within the time frame and were also to be able to conceptualize improvements to their existing final project. These factors indicated the students understanding of the benefits of authentically driven curriculum and the opportunity to expand learning opportunities to reflect real world conditions. The self-directed and collaborative
    • 99   conditions promoted students’ self-confidence and dedication to the project resulting in student competence with the technology tools. Limitations This research had several major limitations due to the location and context of the research environment. Students ranged in ages 14 to 18 and chose to take the course based on availability in their schedule and personal interests. Students’ skill and knowledge level with multimedia software was a limitation in this project. Students’ experiences with technology courses were diverse before this project and reflected the choice the students have at choosing courses. The students involved in this research provided a range of experiences, social skills, and technology skills reflected in the results. This influence of student skill levels in the research presented the limitation to the project in the timeframe this research was conducted. The influence of the students’ schedule and other academic demands made on students in the course of a typical school day provided a limitation of this study. Students often receive several hours of homework and many participate in after-school activities that would limit the potential for out-of-school work time. Student projects need initiating and completing within allotted periods. In some data collection phases, students lacked motivation to complete tasks or required teacher interjection into the group construct. This may have influenced the collection of qualitative data in written or audio form due to the students’ energy level or focus. Another limitation for this study was the occasional absence of a student during a class period. This disrupted continual project progress in some cases and forced groups
    • 100   to recreate specific project components or planning documents. Absences often delayed group approaches at solving problems and conceptualizing. The single classroom environment where this research took place was not diverse in terms of ethnicity or socio-economic backgrounds. This limitation was not beneficial for providing additional insights from outside cultural sources. The perspectives of students were from an upper middle class perspective. Individuals who have access to technology and resources may provide different perspective and approach than one who has limited resources. It would be advisable to others attempting to recreate the study that they provide a similar set of multimedia/hypermedia software available to students and ensure continual access to computers and the Internet. Recommendations for Future Research This research provides one way of integrating a PBL curriculum using technology into a high school classroom setting. Other possible variations of this research could include larger or smaller groups used in the project. A larger population would add a deeper level of communication and development of leadership roles. Researchers could modify the project to include just planning or implementation phases and evaluate student tasks under a shorter timeframe. This project could be integrated with more advanced and less advanced technology courses. The flexibility of the PBL curriculum using technology is that the central components relate to collaboration, authentic learning, sharing of skills, planning, leadership roles, and integrating technology. These components can blend with more advanced technology curriculum such as computer programming courses or in lower level courses focused in just integrating technology or teaching basic computer concepts because the curriculum focuses on student outcomes and how the outcomes are met. The
    • 101   skills related to the curriculum work within the construct of the group work and become as much of a tool as the software or the computer devices. Another approach using this curriculum is to have more girls in the class. In this research, there was only one girl amongst all students. It would be interesting to see how more girls in the groups would influence communication and leadership roles. It would also be beneficial to examine the conceptualization and design of the authentic projects with more girls involved in the planning. Project groups could be smaller or larger and this would certainly influence the collaboration and communication in the groups. Adjusting the group dynamics would also influence the level of skill development amongst participants. The researcher or instructor who wants to replicate this study could use different approaches to select the grouping of students randomly. The self-grouping offered a unique limitation to this study and provided a wide range of adjustments for individual students in the completion of the project. In terms of the curriculum choices, instructors could also provide to students a different “authentic question” in order to address, and this would provide a very wide range of different results than what this study produced. Several specific elements of the authentic PBL curriculum using technology could be used or expanded upon in other courses. Using an authentic approach to projects can be integrated across all curriculums and disciplines. Asking students to reflect on a real world application of any potential outcome encourages students to envision projects in a real world perspective. Additionally, adjusting the authentic question for groups could introduce new opportunities for bringing the workplace into the classroom and examining a variety of approaches to solving real world needs with technology. In all of these
    • 102   approaches, communication and collaboration will remain central to the process of learning. A quantitative approach of data collection could measure language frequency in a similarly structured project. The data size could increase to add more validity to the study of the construct and this research only represents a small classroom integration of this curriculum. Other qualitative approaches could include focus groups and surveys. These approaches could capture the students’ reactions to the project or gain insight into the open developing themes in the group construct. Based on the results of the group communication collected in this study, it is critical that the practitioner of PBL learning environments encourage a quality of communication focused on skill development, idea creation, task management, and positive supportive communication. The authentic assessment of projects in this construct play an important role in the goal setting and conceptualization within PBL curriculums and encourages a variety of integration of technology and approaches to successful classroom projects. Conclusions In this research, the data collection focused on the use of words related to the project components in the task of completing projects. This was common in all the collected audio in learning journals of the group. These words drove project completion and task negotiation. The use of these words indicated the collaborative approach necessary for the process of completing each component and the project. These words are important part of the curriculum construct of how students communicate in a project based learning curriculum. The dominance of these words evolved out of the process of the learning construct.
    • 103   The leadership roles in this study helped the groups delegate tasks and learn technology skills. Leadership roles evolved to help manage the components of the projects and required components. The development of leadership roles was completely dependent on the group construct. Some groups were more dependent on the leadership to negotiate and share the tasks, and some leaders were task managers. In the groups, this role was important to completing specific technology skill tasks as well as managing others in the group. The variety of approaches to completing technology skills was a theme. The first approach was delegating the skills out to those in their groups who were strong in that area. A second approach was two group members working together on the specific task until completed. Third, groups separated themselves and they became experts in the specific area depending on project needs. These approaches were the strategies that influenced the development of the planning of the project as well as the depth of project development. This study was an in-depth look at how students communicate and interact in small groups using technology tools. Teachers are often not allowed inside the group communication between students as they use technology and complete projects. This study examined an authentically driven curriculum utilizing technology to complete a project. The students in this project relied solely on their skills with technology, project management, and imagination to complete the requirements. The participants were challenged to use a range of software and skills to complete the projects. The student process of working to complete requirements is similar to the deadlines in real world
    • 104   workplace environments. Students learning group strategies and roles represented collaborative approaches used in the workplace. The classroom environment used in this study models a very popular method of classroom instruction in which all students have access to computer technology at all times. This construct allows students to work synchronously with web based software and applications. These tools are similar to the tools that are a major component of current work place web collaboration tools. This study replicated current and future workplace environments and the dependence on immediate access to software and computer technology. Components of the research environment PBL, Authentic Learning, and integration of multimedia technology tools can be integrated into a variety of different scenarios. The major themes developed out of this study are products of these constructs and can be beneficial to practitioners who are looking to use any specific component of the results to assist in designing their curriculum. The researcher intends on using the findings from this study to develop further curriculum related to mobile development. The addition of mobile application development curriculum to a range of age levels is an exciting opportunity. Mobile application development represents a firm connection of learning 21st century skills to a variety of technology curriculum including computer science, web development, and business courses. The participants in this study used a variety of technology skills to complete projects. The expectations in this study are that the technology tools are used at a high level of integration of their project and the project requires a variety of tools. It is
    • 105   anticipated that technology used in this project is integrated into projects at a high level and will serve the participants as they embark into the 21st century technology driven workplace.
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    • 111         APPENDICES
    • 112   APPENDIX A Principal Access Request
    • 113   Appendix A Principal Access Request Daniel Downs 5 South Pine Street Bradford, Massachusetts 01835 603-380-3708 Date: Dear Dr. Gwin: I am writing to request permission to conduct research in my high school classroom for my dissertation at Argosy University. The purpose of this qualitative study is to reveal the dominant themes and experiences of students participating in a Project-Based Learning Curriculum using technology collaboratively. The experience of high school students while they participate in a long-range group project using computer technology will be collected and analyzed by the dominant themes and experiences which come from the curriculum. Your permission to have students participate in my research is necessary to complete the research portion of my dissertation at Argosy University. Student names will not be used in my research; each student will be assigned a specific code. Parental permission from each student will also be acquired prior to research. Students will also have the opportunity to opt out of the curriculum research. If you grant me permission to conduct research within my classroom, please sign, date, and return the form below to me. Should you require additional information, please do not hesitate to contact me. Sincerely, Daniel Downs  
    • 114   APPENDIX B Parent Permission Request
    • 115   Appendix B Parent Permission Request Daniel Downs 5 South Pine Street Bradford, Massachusetts 01835 603-380-3708 Date: Dear Parent: I am writing to request your permission to allow your son/daughter to participate in Project Based Research in my high school classroom. The research is for completion of my dissertation at Argosy University. The purpose of this qualitative study is to reveal the dominant themes and experiences of students participating in a Project-Based Learning Curriculum using technology collaboratively. The experience of high school students while they participate in a long range group project using computer technology will be collected and analyzed by the dominant themes and experiences which come from the curriculum. Your permission to have your son/daughter participate in my research is necessary to complete the research portion of my dissertation at Argosy University. Student names will not be used in my research; each student will be assigned a specific code. Parental permission from each student will also be acquired prior to research. Students also have the opportunity to opt out of the curriculum research. Permission is required for your son/daughter to participate in the research within my classroom, please sign, date, and return the form below to me. Should you require additional information, please do not hesitate to contact me. Sincerely, Daniel Downs
    • 116   (District Letterhead) Parent Permission for Participants I, _______________________________________, grant Daniel Downs permission to conduct human subject research with my child in the selected school in the district with the understanding that student names will not be used and that any information that might identify the students, teachers, or school being studied will be removed or altered through the use of a coding system. _______________________________________ __________________________ Parent Signature Date __________________________________________ Print Name __________________________________________ Phone Number  
    • 117   APPENDIX C Authentic Rubric
    • 118                                                                  APPENDIX C AUTHENTIC RUBRIC *Based on (Herrington & Herrington, 1998) Category 1-3 (Little) 4-6 (Basic) 7-9 (Advanced) Context The group has created a project that minimally addresses the challenge of real world questions. The projects also show a limited knowledge of the context of the conditions in which students completed the tasks and how their skills can relate to real world instances. The group has a basic project that addressed the challenge of real world questions. The projects also show a basic knowledge of the context of the conditions in which students completed the tasks and how their skills can relate to real world instances. The group has an advanced project that emphasizes the challenge of real world questions. The projects also show an advanced emphasis on the context of the conditions in which students completed the tasks and how their skills can relate to real world instances. Problem Solving Skills The groups final project shows a minimal level of problem-solving skills, higher order thinking and the production of knowledge rather than the reproduction of knowledge, significant student time, collaboration, effective performers, polished The groups final project shows a basic level of problem-solving skills, higher order thinking and the production of knowledge rather than the reproduction of knowledge, significant student time, collaboration, effective performers, polished The groups final project shows an advanced level of problem-solving skills, higher order thinking and the production of knowledge rather than the reproduction of knowledge, significant student time, collaboration, effective performers, polished
    • 119   products and depth of knowledge. products and depth of knowledge. products and depth of knowledge. Task Factors Include the wide range of responses to the central authentic question. The group creates a minimal response to the central authentic question. The group provides a minimal project in which students answered and solved some of the components to the question and address most of the multiple steps necessary to complete their project. The group satisfies some of the integrated forms of assessment. The group creates a basic response to the central authentic question. The group provides a basic project in which students answered and solved all the components to the question and address the multiple steps necessary to complete their project. The group satisfies most integrated forms of assessment. The group creates an advanced response to the central authentic question. The group provides a complex project in which students answered and solve the components to all the questions and addressed the multiple steps necessary to complete their project. The group satisfies all integrated forms of assessment. Indicator of Success In the project, the group is able to create a valid and reliable product which addresses the most needs of the question. Other indicators include knowledge of specific technology based skills shown in the final product. In the project, the group is able to create a basic valid and reliable product which addresses the basic needs of the question. Other indicators include knowledge of specific technology based skills shown in the final product. In the project, the group is able to create an advanced valid and reliable product which addresses the needs of the question. Other indicators include an advanced knowledge of specific technology based skills shown in the final product.
    • 120   APPENDIX D GROUP PLANNING AND LAYOUTS
    •   121 Figure 1: Group 1 Planning & Layout                                                          
    •   122 Figure 2: Group 2 Planning & Layout                                                                   
    •                   123 Figure 3: Group 3 Planning & Layout                                                   
    •   124 Figure 4: Group 4 Planning & Layout                                                             
    • 125   APPENDIX E LEARNING JOURNAL WORDS
    •   126       Figure 5: Learning Journal Words Chart outlining the dominance of word categories throughout the groups. Learning Journal Words 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 Technology Words Project Process General Descriptive Words Descriptions Of Quality Project Components Group Learning References Group 4 Group 3 Group 2 Group 1
    •   127 APPENDIX F LEARNING JOURNAL WORD QUERIES 
    •   128 Figure 6: Group 1 Learning Journal Word Query     Figure 7: Group 2 Learning Journal Word Query    
    •   129 Figure 8: Group 3 Learning Journal Word Query     Figure 9: Group 4 Learning Journal Word Query  
    •   130 APPENDIX G AUDIO TRANSCRIPTION WORDS
    •   131   Audio Transcription Words Chart showing dominance in categories according to transcribed audio data. 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 Technology Words Project Process General Descriptive Words Descriptions Of Quality Project Components Group Learning References Group 1 Group 2 Group 3 Group 4     
    •   132 APPENDIX H AUDIO WORD QUERIES 
    •   133   Figure 10: Group 1 Audio Word Query   Figure 11: Group 2Audio Word Query  
    •   134   Figure 12: Group 3 Audio Word Query   Figure 12: Group 4 Audio Word Query              
    •   135 APPENDIX I GROUPS 1-4 PRESENTATION VIDEO LINKS
    •   136 CUT AND PASTE URLS TO BROWSER Group 1 Presentation https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S6110ciK4eE Group 2 Presentation https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rMyIIZ9VSr8 Group 3 Presentation https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6XY2sfwyumw Group 4 Presentation https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vf4VFeeZ5P4