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Student Engagement Study

168 students completed a survey. The results show that kids actually enjoyed using EssayPop and their attitude toward writing in general has significantly changed.

Rationale

When discussing how best to allocate early funds to conduct our first student survey, our team very quickly determined that job one would be to discover how much engagement and confidence EssayPop brings to the writing experience of young people. It has been one of our core beliefs from the beginning that if pride and joy are absent from the writing experience, then students will not progress as writers. The teachers we surveyed have overwhelmingly concurred that without engagement and self-assurance, student learning languishes.  So it became critical for us to discover just how captivating a learning tool EssayPop truly is.

To this end, we enlisted the services of education researcher, Ardice Hartry, PhD, whose 30 years of university-level research experience has provided the expertise required to understand just how engaging and confidence-building our product is to students.

The survey results that follow indicate that we are, indeed, heading in the right direction, and will also inform the development of upcoming revisions and new features for the platform.

Methods

Case Study

Sample: 168 students completed the surveys.

Instrument: A new instrument that measures enjoyment of essay writing, confidence or efficacy beliefs, and interest in essay writing was used. This instrument is adapted from the Science Learning Activation scales for Fascination and Competency Beliefs. The scale has 14 items. Of these, 1 item had errors in the data collection system (Google Forms) and was thrown out of the analysis. All other items were incorporated into the scale, which is created by averaging all responses to the individual items in that scale. (More information about the psychometric qualities of the scale are available.) For the scale, a score of 5.0 would equal most fascinated with and confident in writing essays. A score of 1.0 would equal least fascinated and confident.

The instrument uses a Post/Retro-Pre design.

Results

Overall, significant growth from retro-pre to post, with scores changing from 3.26 to 3.84 on post (t=10.112; sd=.73942; p=.000). The box plot in Figure 1 shows the significant difference in attitudes. Across all students, 78% reported improvement in their attitudes towards writing.

Figure 1. Pre/Post results for all students (n=168)

post-results

Student growth varied by starting place (which is not unusual for educational measures). Students in the lowest quartile grew by more than 1 scale point; students in the second-lowest quartile grew by more than ½ scale point.

Figure 2. Change in Scale Score, by Quartile

 

change in scale score

Most students credited EssayPop with changing their attitudes towards writing essays (see Figure 3):

Figure 3. Responses to Question,
“How did using EssayPop change your attitudes towards writing essays?

ItemN=Valid percentCumulative percent
EssayPop made me love writing essays a lot more.5231.031.0
EssayPop made me like writing essays a little more.9456.087.0
My attitudes towards writing didn't change with EssayPop.2112.599.5
EssayPop made me hate writing essays a little more.0099.5
EssayPop made me hate writing essays a lot more.1.6100.0

Students’ self-assessment of change generally correlated with how much they credited EssayPop with changing their attitudes towards writing essays. (Note: we do not expect 100% correlation because interventions, context, or circumstances other than EssayPop could have influenced student attitudes towards writing.) In other words, students who saw significant growth in their attitudes towards writing generally credited EssayPop with that change. Those that had no significant difference from Pre to Post generally felt that using EssayPop did not change their attitudes towards writing.

Figure 4. Pre/Post Scale Scores by student assessment of value of EssayPop

ItemN=PrePostDiff
EssayPop made me love writing essays a lot more.523.364.36Yes
EssayPop made me like writing essays a little more.943.293.78Yes
My attitudes towards writing didn't change with EssayPop.212.942.89No
EssayPop made me hate writing essays a little more.0NANANA
EssayPop made me hate writing essays a lot more.12.692.62No

Additional Questions

The early results from EssayPop are encouraging. Additional research would provide more information about how well EssayPop works, for what students, and under which conditions. I recommend:

  1. Exploring more about what aspects or elements of EssayPop help students gain confidence.
  2. How confidence and enjoyment/interest translate to improved writing (if at all) – in other words, how to attitudes affect achievement?
  3. Gaining the teacher perspective on EssayPop
  4. Understanding how EssayPop affects student writing in multiple disciplines
Case Study