- The research and technology-focused project was conducted at Rantakylä Teacher Training School, which is part of the University of Eastern Finland.
- The school provides education from primary to lower secondary levels and has specific spaces for small groups of pupils with special educational needs.
- The project focused on two small groups of pupils with special educational needs.
Technology-focused Project Learning
- Expert teams planned and implemented technology-focused projects using inclusive pedagogies.
- The projects included Lego Spike Prime (programming skills), micro:bit (programming skills and makering), and Minecraft (cooperational constructing in a digital three-dimensional world).
- The average duration of the technology projects was approx. 5 h and they were implemented in a three-week period (rhythm once a week).
- The goal was for participating pupils to share their expertise within the school community.
- The purpose of research was to find out how students’ self-efficacy and cooperation skills develop with the support of the digital exercises implemented during the research period (six months in the spring of 2023)
- The study included two small groups of students with special educational needs (n=20).
- Data collection involved internet polls at four different points, questionnaires, interviews, and documentation.
- Self-efficacy was assessed using a Likert-scale questionnaire with 14 items designed by the authors.
- Cooperating skills were assessed using the MASK questionnaire, a four-point Likert-scale questionnaire with 15 items.
- The project brought together a multidisciplinary research team. Both the teacher training institute and the teacher training school were represented. Both master’s studies and post-doc research were carried out on the project.
- Self-efficacy and cooperation skills of the students were assessed by comparing the average self-assessment responses.
- The results showed that the students had a relatively high level of self-efficacy, which remained stable throughout the study period.
- However, there was a statistically significant decline in their evaluations of self-efficacy related to digital competency between the second and third measurement points.
- In contrast, the students’ evaluations of their cooperation skills consistently increased from the first measurement point to the fourth measurement point.
Current I Can DigIT! Events
Even though the academic school year is coming to an end the project actors are active in many sectors:
– academic presentations are being prepared
– next academic year’s schedules and contents are being planned
- The I Can DigIT! -project will be presented in June by Ville Eronen and Juuso Pursiainen at the Aberdeen HETL conference in Scotland. They are hosting a poster presentation at the event. Here you can more information about HETL.
- Another academic presentation has also been accepted. It is connected to the EAPRIL conference organized in November 2023 in Belfast. There I Can DigIT! will be introduced in a Present & Disuss session.
- The spring 2023 development project was a success in many different ways, and the work will continue next school year as well. At that time, the goal is to develop new technology content that will help students’ cooperation skills develop even better.
- The research provided information that can be used when developing future teaching practices and teacher training that utilize digital pedagogy.
- The content of the follow-up study examines the dependence of students’ self-efficacy in relation to how they experience the content.
- Two Master`s Thesis and articles will be written about the project.
Using technology-focused project learning to strengthen special education pupils’ self-efficacy, cooperation, and interaction skills
Ville Eronen, Sampo Forsström, Anniina Kämäräinen, Juuso Pursiainen & Katariina Räsänen
University of Eastern Finland (UEF)