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Action Research Proposal

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Note taking has been for many years a critical part of education, especially for history and the social sciences.  Note taking itself has taken many different shapes and forms.  One of these forms is that of the guided or partial notes.  Many teachers swear by them, others seem to detest them and avoid them like the plague.  The researcher has been somewhat skeptical to their effectiveness, believing that they increase the workload for the instructor, forcing them to prepare notes before hand, running copies, distributing them to the students, and several other extra activities.  Simultaneously this seems to decrease the work of the students in the note taking process.  The researchers previous reaction to guided notes is that they would cause students to become less engaged in lectures or direct instruction since much of the work is being done for them.  I have in my personal experience seen some positive effects for special needs students in meeting their IEP accommodations.  However for the most part, have been very skeptical to their effectiveness with a general population of students.  

Guided notes may take many different forms, and can utilizes many different approaches strategies.  Some may be as simple as a chart or graph premade in a thinking map format to help students organize the information they receive.  Others can be as basic and simple as an outline of the information that will be covered.  The guided notes implemented in this research will take a variety of forms to adapt to the content being taught.   Guided notes can take many different forms, one of the more broad and all encompassing definitions for guided notes  is “Guided Notes are teacher-prepared hand-outs that outline or map lectures, but leave "blank" space for key concepts, facts, definitions, etc.” found in a meta analytic review by Konrad, M., Joseph, L. M., & Eveleigh, E. (2009).  

In the researcher's classroom setting note taking and direct instruction already occur in an unorthodox way.  The researchers current setting a high poverty, high risk, Title I middle school in eastern NC.  Many students lack basic school supplies, and those that do have very poor organizational skills and the ability to keep up and maintain a notebook.  This has caused me to set up notes in a digital format through the use of apps such as google classroom and google drive.  This allows students to not be responsible for a physical notebook which may be damaged, lost, or forgotten.  They have access to this notebook from any electronic device which can access the internet.  In the classroom I have been supplied with a class set of google chromebooks which students use to type their notes and complete other assignments.  I have already seen great strides in students improving their organizational skills, and more time on learning instead of scrambling to find a paper and pencil during instructional time.  

One of the aspects of teaching in such a population is that many struggle in note taking skills as well as organizational abilities.  This is supported by several studies on the use of guided notes in similar populations. In several studies it has been suggested that the structure and organization of the guided notes allows special needs and at risk students to focus on content instead of the structure and organization aspect of their direct instruction,  (Sweeny, W. J., Erhardt, A. M., Gardner, R., Jones, L., Greenfield, R., & Fribley, S. (1999)(Lazarus, B. D. (1993).)

While this digital note taking strategy has yielded positive results I am seeking other methods that can be incorporated into this strategy to further improve it.  While I have been skeptical of using guided notes, a practicum student from ECU taught a lesson for my class this previous spring where he used guided notes.  The class that he taught he used prepared printed copies.  Since he only taught for one class period, I decided to use the guided notes template he shared with me to print and share it with my other classes digitally.  This was something that was out of the ordinary from my class’ normal note taking procedures, the overall verbal feedback the students gave was very positive.  Upon hearing this positive reaction from the students I began to ponder how using guided notes in this digital format can help my students’ performance.  While students giving positive verbal feedback, saying that they “like” taking notes in this manner is good for repor with my students, it does not necessarily prove that it helps them learn better.  

In reading several studies in preparation for this research study I have perceived an overall positive correlation in student performance and the use of guided notes.  The strategy of using guided notes predates technology being prevalent in most classrooms.  As a result, many of these studies however were done before technology was as prevalent in the classroom as it is today.  The studies that have been done on guided notes being shared in an electronic format have been at the collegiate level.  One consistent thing that stuck out in literature from previous studies is that at risk students, in particular special needs, and students with behavioral issues seem to show very positive feedback in the use of guided notes.  

The purpose of this research is to determine how effective using guided notes can be in a one-to-one classroom.  During the course of the third marking period of the school year I will implement the guided notes strategy with one class.  The notes will be shared through the use of google classroom, and available to the students from the beginning of the marking period.  Another class with very similar reading levels, and test scores will be used as a control group.  By analyzing the difference in growth on a mandated benchmark test I can compare those receiving the guided notes versus those that did not I can measure what difference this strategy had on student growth over the same time frame.  Overall class averages and as well as overall grades will also be recorded to observe any other effects that may occur from the treatment on student performance

This research is intended to answer the question: to what extent do the use of guided notes, used in a one-to-one classroom, improve student performance?

Literature Review

The studies found were done across a wide range of years all showing similar results, that guided notes in a variety of different settings can be effective in helping students better understand content and retain knowledge better.  Each study brought a different aspect on using guided notes in the classroom and different ways of assessing their effectiveness in a study of this type.  Some of the studies were useful in the fact that they provided a framework for how guided notes are implemented and their desires result.  Others brought different aspects and variables to consider in the use of guided notes such as being high tech or low tech adaptations of the strategy.  Many were useful in showing how data on guided notes should be collected.  Several others were helpful in how they showed guided notes can be especially effective amongst special needs students as well as at risk students from a lower socioeconomic status.  



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