Computer Literacy Program – Final Test and Laptop Giveaway
|Ryan will do more thorough posts about the curriculum, the activities, and the effectiveness of the program when all the classes are complete on ideonexus.com. These are just my own personal recaps and memories.|
This run of the Computer Literacy Program included twelve students (ages 9 – 18), but Ryan and I hope that’s just the beginning. We aspire for more classes and more laptop giveaways in the future. With that in mind, we wanted to make sure to measure our performance. We wanted to pinpoint where we were effective and what areas we should target for improvement.
Before we conducted a single class, we had the kids get together to take a 50 question multiple choice test on a variety of computer-related topics ranging from nitty gritty details like Ctrl-Z to broad topics like ethics. After all the classes and makeup classes were done, we had them take the exact same test again.
After the test, Ryan or I set up a password protected “support” account on each machine anticipating (and accurately so) that one day the laptop may return to us for troubleshooting. At that point, each child’s laptop became theirs to keep!
With one exception, the children did not have Internet access at their homes. I fully expected that the kids would still have to come over in the evenings, but it turns out our wireless connection is more potent than I realized! Two homes (eight kids worth) can get on our connection. That meant, once the laptops were distributed, Ryan and I found ourselves with an entirely unexpected asset – an empty house.
And it was in this oddly quiet home, that Ryan and I took a look over the scores and realized our test, which was supposed to reveal our weak areas, had some weak areas of its own:
- Unrelated Questions – This being our first run with the program, it was not unusual for the lecture and the slides to be finished a day or two before the class. The test, however, was written well beforehand. We ended up with discrepancies between what the test asked and what we actually covered. For example, we thought we would be putting more emphasis on cloud computing and we thought we would be doing hands-on work with spreadsheets and databases. I count roughly 10 questions (20%) that we didn’t directly cover in class.
- Group vs. Individual Scores – When the kids first took the test, Ryan and I encouraged them to work together in groups. We wanted to them to start a dialogue among themselves. We wanted to see how they reasoned the questions out and what misconceptions they had. In that arena, the group test was effective. It also seemed to build enthusiasm for the lessons to come. The only downside came at the end of the program. We are now comparing collaborative group scores against individual scores.
We’re still a little unsure of how to best work with the numbers we have (certainly speak up if you have recommendations), but we did see a small improvement in the average test grade.
Another way we’ve looked at it is on a question by question basis, comparing how many students got the question right the first time around to how many got it right the second time. There we saw improvement the performance of 26 questions and 5 questions remained the same.
When you break that question performance down by what class they were covered in, it appears our most effective class was “Ethics“. We asked four questions that related to that class and on all four of the questions, more kids got it right in the final test. “Software” and “The Future” had improvement in 100% of their questions as well and “Programming” saw a solid gain with 5 out of its 7 questions improving.
It was actually a maintenance question on defragging harddrives that I found most surprising.
You should maintain the integrity of your hard drive by regularly:
a. Defragmenting it.
b. Taking it out and polishing the disk cylinder.
c. Scanning it with a ENIAC Recompiler.
d. Adjusting the pin settings.
After the “Maintenance” class, I absolutely believed we had hit a home run with defragging. I thought the out of order comic books were a brilliant way to explain the concept and it was accompanied by an in-depth hands-on activity. The kids seemed to really absorb the process and they seemed to have fun doing it. But on the final test, only two students got the question right. Four got it right the first time.
Results like that did surprise us and, like I said before, we are still trying to figure out the best way to interpret and act on the data. In the meantime, there is one number we have no problem identifying as positive:
12 Children in a Low-Income Neighborhood Now Have Laptops of Their Own!
Just Five of the Happy Recipients of Laptops