More Listening, Observing And Discussing: Using SMART To Increase Classroom Focus

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Background: A one-year research study on SMART technology

Lancaster University researchers gathered data about a German school over a one-year period as it implemented SMART solutions.

The school is a Gymnasium, a selective German school putting strong emphasis on academic learning and preparing for university entrance. As in all German schools, teachers have to mark student attainment based on written and oral work equally.

The school has 930 pupils, 64 teachers, nine student teachers and four specialist subject supply teachers. SMART equipped the school with two SMART Boards, SMART Notebook® software and two SMART Document Cameras. Students from ages 10 to 18 had access to the technology. Teachers taught a variety of subjects using the technology, but the focus was on math and English.

Enhanced classroom engagement

When students used the SMART Boards, whole-class discussions were more collaborative and individual student participation increased. Students highlighted benefits, including easier access to resources inside and outside the classroom. They also reported a better understanding of subject topics due to clearer visualization and opportunities to revisit shared work on the board.

Increased collaboration

When using the technology, students started sharing more and learned more from one another. Teachers at the German school noted an increase in student engagement that led to greater understanding.

“Short-term learning was seen by teachers as leading to greater understanding in many cases. This is not the same as long-term learning or memorization, but heightened interest, engagement, interaction and participation were all felt by teachers to be enhancing the prospects of longer-term learning. Pupils reported that the pace of lessons was increased, which aided their focus and engagement,” the study says.

Students said that when they weren’t using SMART Boards, their attention and focus tended to wander more.

Better visibility of concepts onscreen

Students said they had difficulty seeing details when their teachers used older model TVs or chalkboards in the classroom. When students had better visibility, they were better able to share their work with others.

The SMART Boards enabled this sharing by providing wider visibility throughout the classroom.

Resource-sharing efficiencies

Teachers reported that they benefitted from having access to a wider range of resources in lesson notes, including being able to access previous work and share saved work with students. This easy access to resources, and the ease at which students and their teacher moved between media, also meant that everyone saved time in class. Students also recognized and valued this.

Outcome: Student and teacher responses

Responses in the study indicated that the digital technologies were helping students and teachers in a variety of ways

  • Teachers could easily access and integrate online resources to create more interesting lessons
  • Students felt more engaged and less distracted in lessons, which made it easier to actively participate
  • Teachers were able to score active student participation higher, which led to higher oral marks for students, and higher marks overall
  • Students valued the opportunity to review and revise work done in lessons outside the classroom

Read the full Lancaster University study here

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