05 SES 10, Urban Children and Youth at Risk & Urban Education: Thesis on Bullying and Violence
Recent research showed that students’ awareness, attitudes and understandings are mainly influenced by media coverage (Barraza & Walford, 2002; Jinliang et al., 2004), and more recently, from media and interactions in social networks (Pempek, Yermolayeva, & Calvert, 2009). This study investigated the effects of integrating social networking technologies on students’ interaction and performance in an alternative learning school environment. Twenty-two 10th to 12th graders in an alternative school were recruited from their environmental science class to participate in this study. An online learning environment was designed to assist in-class instruction to promote student learning and engagement around the topic of climate change. Students’ reflections that emerged from their interactions and posts on the social network provided evidence that integrating social networking technologies positively influenced student motivation and engagement.
Purpose of the Study
This study particularly focused on the effects of integrating social networking technologies designed by the researchers on students’ motivation and engagement in the learning processes in an alternative school environment.Therefore, the following research question leaded the study: “How does integration of social networks affects students’ motivation and engagement in their learning in alternative learning school environments?”
Participants and Context
The research site for this study was an alternative high school located in an urban area in the Midwest with a free and reduced lunch rate of 100%. Twenty-two 10th to 12th graders were recruited from their environmental science class to participate in this study. The breakdown of the class is as follows: eight English Language Learners (ELL), one homeless student, two special education students, three gifted and talented students, and one homebound student. The class included four White, nine African-American, five Asian, and four Hispanic students. During class time, each student was provided access to a computer with a server and personal account access through the Internet.
Alternative schools often serve youth who are unsuccessful in their regular school placement because of a variety of risk factors, namely problem behaviors, which are often characterized by “highly fluid” (Kleiner et al., 2002) and smaller (Lange & Sletten, 2002) student enrollments. Dupper (2008) indicated that students’ lack of motivation, low academic achievement, and absenteeism were some of the problems occurring in alternative schools. In this study, the researcher aimed to alleviate these disadvantages through integrating social networking technologies into the environmental science classrooms.
Barraza, L., & Walford, R. A. (2002). Environmental education: A comparison between English and Mexican school children. Environmental Education Research, 8(2), 171-186. Jinliang, W., Yunyan, H., Ya, L., Xiang, H., Xiafei, W., & Yuanmei, J. (2004). An analysis of environmental awareness and environmental education for primary school and high school students in kunming. Chinese Education & Society, 37(4), 24-31. Kleiner, B., Porch, R., & Farris, E. (2002). Public alternative schools and programs for students at risk of education failure: 2000-2001 (NCES 2002-004). U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC: NCES. Lange, C. M., & Sletten, S. J. (2002). Alternative education: A brief history and research Synthesis. Paper presented for Project Forum at the National Association of State Directors in Special Education, Alexandria, VA. Retrieved at www.nasdse.org/publications/alternative_ed_history.pdf on May 8, 2011. Miles, M. B., & Huberman, A. M. (1994). Qualitative data analysis (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Pempek, T. A., Yermolayeva, Y. A., & Calvert, S. L. (2009). College students' social networking experiences on facebook. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 30(3), 227-238.
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