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Michelle Marconi June 15, 2011 EDT 6070 Data Analysis

Using Technology to Teach Documentation Skills In May of 2011, twenty high school teachers were polled on the issues of plagiarism from students, personal documentation skill knowledge, and desire to use technology to help instruct students. The results from a ten question survey brought to light gaps in instruction, expectations, and student achievement on this skill. Figure 1 displays the average response from all 20 participants and denotes the scale used to determine the average. On a scale of one to five indicates the following for each survey prompt: one means that a subject strongly disagreed, two means that a subject disagreed, three means that a subject was neutral, four means that a subject agreed, and five means that a subject strongly disagreed. As shown, on average, teachers believe plagiarism to be a serious issue even though teachers have taught documentation skills, teachers themselves were not fully confident in the newest MLA rules and struggled with differentiating between MLA and APA documentation, and teachers overwhelmingly stated that they use Microsoft Word and were open to using technology to teach documentation skills. These results clearly identified a need for teachers and students alike: the need for an easier way to teach a skill which is fluid and rapidly evolving. Also, there is a real need for students to know how to document in various formats to accommodate needs from classes outside of their English courses. A quick, accessible, and easy solution for this need is to teach students how to use the reference tab on Microsoft Office for documentation needs. In doing so, the occurrence of

plagiarism from ignorance will hopefully be diminished. That is, students should no longer be able to claim that they did not understand how to format their papers to avoid plagiarism.

FIGURE ONE

The Problems The Needs Assessment Survey results shown in figure one, highlight several problems which are a current reality for teachers at Dundee-Crown High School. These problems will be further explained in this section. 1. Plagiarism is an issue within the modern high school classroom even though students have been actively taught to avoid this practice in their English classes.

As indicated by the survey results displayed in Figure Two, 76-79% of surveyed teachers are teaching documentation skills in their classroom to some degree however 81% of participants found plagiarism to be an issue. There is a clear need represented in the percentage of teachers who found plagiarism to be an issue and those who took active steps to minimize this issue as best explained by the fact that documentation is a topic typically left up to English teachers to
FIGURE cover. A variety of teachers were polled in the survey including science, social science, math, TWO

and special education teachers. On the whole, English teachers indicated that they are teaching these skills while teachers in other subjects indicated that they do not do so. This brings to light the issue of citation method being used. English uses MLA documentation while the other polled subjects typically use APA. Who is covering those skills? The answer is that no one is covering APA effectively within in the building which is leading to an increased perception of plagiarism from teachers and an increase of ignorance of doing so by students. 2. Teachers, while they believed that they have taught their students how to document their work, admit that their own documentation skills are a bit rusty.

79% of surveyed teachers indicated that they have some amount of time in class reviewing citation rules and reinforcing them to some extent. However, only 68% of those surveyed actually completely understand the newest rules governing documentation and ethics. How well is this skill being taught if teachers are unsure of what it is they are teaching? The answer is not well and honestly, with rules in documentation evolving every few years, it is no wonder that teachers may have trouble staying abreast of the newest expectationslet alone knowing them well enough to effectively teach these ideals to students. There needs to be an easier way to teach these skills while not investing huge amounts of time into this venture as the rules will most likely change again in the next year or so. 3. Teachers are unsure of how students should cite work outside of the English classroom as noted by a below average response on their ability to switch between MLA and APA citations.

As indicated earlier, teachers are shaky on the differences between MLA and APA documentation; however, both of these types of citations are required in a normal high school career; as well they should be if there is any hope at reducing the occurrence of plagiarism. This

data can best be understood in that English teachers primarily only teach MLA documentation while other subject areas have citation needs as well. There are a few solutions to this issue. Solution one, English teachers are trained in APA as well as MLA documentation formats and teach both in their classes. Solution two, English teachers own MLA and other subjects, such as science, own APA instruction and reinforcement. Solution three, we find an easy way to format this type of documentation for students easily with little tax on teachers. 4. Teachers, overwhelming, have students use Microsoft Office to complete course work and would be interested in using technology to help teach students documentation skills.

As indicated above, 88% of polled teachers have their students using Microsoft Word for word processing needs and 92% of respondents would be open to using technology to help teach students documentation skills. The results are clearthis could be a viable solution to the plagiarism problem plaguing Dundee-Crown. The Solution Based upon the Needs Assessment, it is clear that teachers are open to using technology to solve their immediate issues with documentation. In doing so, the bridge between APA and MLA needs to be made easier to navigate while new rules should be clarified.