Evaluation Report

Shannan Muskopf

Spring 2002, Q471


Using the Internet to Enhance Science Instruction


Instructional Goals


Terminal Objective:  Science teachers will incorporate authentic technology based learning tasks into existing curriculum.


1.  Teachers will realize the abundance of science activities and resources located on the world wide web


2.  Teachers will develop strategies for finding appropriate and interactive sites for their students.


3.  Teachers will create a lesson or activity that incorporates the world wide web.


Overview of Instruction


The original plans for instruction included the use of an overhead projector to give instructions and showcase websites.  This plan had to be changed due to the fact that the school’s one overhead projector could not be checked out as it was already in use.  The technology director suggested signing up for the device at least a month in advance.


Two of the four teachers from the planned audience participated in the field test.  Many of the problems I encountered during the field trial had to do with timing issues.  It was difficult to arrange a time that agreed with everyone’s schedule.  Two hours were planned for the field test and it occurred in the math/science computer la.  Because of the small audience, the lack of the overhead projector was not as big of a problem because the two learners and myself could “huddle” around a single computer in the lab. 


During the first phase of the instruction, I showed them various sites on the web that they had not been familiar with.  This part of the instruction was not meant to take very long, and would serve to motivate the learners and spark interest.  Both teachers in the group were biology teachers so I focused on the biology and anatomy sites and adjusted some of my original plan on short notice.  I assumed that biology and anatomy sites would be of more interest, so I eliminated showcasing the sites that were physics and chemistry oriented.   This part of the instruction seemed to be very effective and I ended up spending a longer time period than planned on this part.  The learners definitely wanted to see more of the sites chosen, NOVA’s site on evolution, NOVA’s site on DNA Fingerprinting, and the “Virtual Pig Dissection”. 


I chose two different areas of the same web site (PBS) to explain how the world wide web works and how to navigate within large sites.  The learners would understand how url’s work in general and be able to “back up” an address if they become lost in the site.  Oddly enough, the two learners, though they had some experience with web browsers did not quite understand how addresses work and how to use a URL to create a mental map of the site they are visiting.  Again, I veered off my original plans to explain this and spent a longer period of time in the initial motivational phase than I originally intended.


Learners were showed a variety of search engines, though I used Google to demonstrate various ways to search for a topic.  At this point, the learners separated and used their own computer.   Their first task was to explore the three sites given, and then practice searching for topics of interest to them.   A half hour was allotted for these tasks, though it was obvious the learners wanted to spend more time exploring this area.   I prompted them with a few ideas while searching to help them narrow their searches and find those sites that would be geared for their target audience (teens).   The anatomy teacher chose to look for virtual cat dissections, since he was impressed by the virtual pig dissection showcased earlier.  The biology teacher chose to search for ecology issues, since this was the area of the biology curriculum she was currently on with her students.  This was eventually narrowed down to search for resources on recycling and conservation.  Regrouping occurred at the end of the half hour to discuss what was learned and provide feedback.   


Phase two involved another “huddle” to show ways in which internet sites can be converted into student-centered lessons, like webquests.  I used two sites to show examples of a webquest and an example of a “mini-quest” and explained the difference between a project-based internet lesson and a lesson that involved students exploring a site and performing specific low level tasks.  


The learners were charged with the task of using one of the sites they found in the last phase and creating a lesson that could be used in their classes.   During this phase, I spent the majority of the time speaking to the learners one-on-one about the sites they found and how to use that site to produce a lesson plan that would be engaging and useful in their classrooms.    Neither one of the learners were able to complete this part of the lesson during the two hour time period allotted, but they did save their work onto the network to work on it later, follow-up would occur in two weeks.


All in all, the learners seemed to enjoy the process and were engaged.  Some of the goals were met, but they did not leave with a completed lesson plan due to not having enough time.  


Regrouping occurred at the end of the two hours for additional feedback and for the learners to fill out the attitude survey.



They seemed to have a good attitude regarding the instruction and expressed that they did learn something, but I wonder if these results are somewhat questionable. The two learners that participated volunteered in the first place, so they entered into the instruction with a desire to learn and participate.  The same results may not occur with the general science department because not all of them “buy into” technology.  Those that had a negative attitude about technology did not volunteer to give two hours of their time to help me with this field test.


Summary of Instruction 




Based on Attitude Survey (learners)

Based on Informal Evaluation  (instructor)

Effectiveness of Instruction

Learners responded positively.

Some areas needed clarification, more time is needed to complete instruction

Ease of Instruction

Learners found that the vocabulary and direction was easy to follow. 

Web quest section was too involved, learners did not want to deal with that


Learners spent a good deal of time exploring the sites given as examples, they wanted to spend more time in this area

General comments of amazement, especially regarding the Nova site, which has a huge resource of science lessons and interactive activities

Media Used

The learners (who are teachers) were not surprised or daunted by the lack of the overhead projector, they were flexible

It was difficult to only have one computer to explain, though with only two learners in the field test, it was manageable


Learners referred to handouts frequently, attitude survey suggested that more handouts and web site resources would be useful

Some revision may be necessary, web quest section not used at all. (Too much information).   Learners seemed to want to read through entire packet rather than the area we were on, slowed process.


Learners responded positively

The learners seemed engaged and motivated, they remarked that they would like to spend more time and continue the lesson


The learners were given insight into the world wide web and the things that could be found there.  They did not complete a lesson plan for their students but planned to finish at a later time

Searching and browsing abilities were improved, adjustments could be made on teaching how to write a lesson plan (web quests and mini quests) – this what too much to include in one two-hour session






Description of  Formative Evaluation Tools


Results of Attitude Survey


The learners felt the lesson was on target with regard to ease of learning and the vocabulary used.   They felt that the instruction was effective and would recommend it to others.  This was definitely a good sign because one of the learners was the department head, and he would encourage other members of the department to participate later on.   Both learners felt that they would use the computer lab in the future, though their comments suggested it would not be during this school year due to other responsibilities and time constraints.  They both felt that more time was needed for the instruction.   The examples used were definitely ueful and the learners would have liked more time to explore the sites I had given to them.   They felt that the webquest and mini-quests made available by others on the web were not as useful for them because they did not coincide with their own teaching styles or were too lengthy to be practical for their classroom curriculum.   


Informal evaluation


During feedback sessions and one-on-one interaction other comments were notable.   There was too much information and too many sites to explore on the handout, though it was not my intention that the learners get to every single one of them. They were not clear on this and thought they had a half hour to look at all these sites.   


Though it was not on the handout, prompting the learners to add words like “interactive” and “tutorial” to topic searches provided results that were geared to students rather than commercial sites.

They did not understand why they were filling out the “Internet Attitude Survey” again, because I’d already had them fill it out before the lesson as a needs assessment.  The point of giving it again was to see if the attitudes had changed, but they felt it was redundant.


Though the learners had a basic understanding of computer use and operation, many were confused about how to open two programs (Internet Explorer and Microsoft Word) so that a lesson could be written while referring back to the site the lesson would cover.  A better explanation in the handout may have solved this problem, one that included step by step instructions on how to use a word processing program and how to move from one window to another using the taskbar on the windows desktop.


The learners also seemed to have difficulty narrowing the sites down. Many wanted to know how to save sites that they found so they could come back later.  I didn’t have a good answer for this because a bookmark on the lab computer wouldn’t transfer to their classroom computers.  I eventually suggested copying and pasting the urls to a word document and saving them that way. 


The learners were intimidated by webquests.  When it came time to write a lesson, both chose to do a single site and write questions and tasks for the students to do with that site.  They expressed that the webquest taskonomy (from the Bernie Dodge website) was too involved and would take too much time to create and to implement in the classroom.



Recommendations for Revision


Based on the field trial, one thing is obvious, that it is going to take more time for the learners to absorb all this. I will probably split the instruction into two sessions.  The first focusing on the internet, what’s out there, and how to search.   That lesson alone could take 2 hours.  The second session would be another 2 hours that focus on how to use the things you find to create lessons for students. 


The attitude survey I gave them (not the one on my instruction, but the one regarding their attitudes toward the internet in general) will probably be deleted.  The learners didn’t seem like they understood why they were filling it out at the end.  It probably will be a good pre-assessment  tool, but a bit of overkill to also give it to them again at the end. 


The learners had a lot of trouble creating the lesson, and I may need to divide the process into two areas.  A miniquest and a webquest.  A miniquest is the easiest to write and follows a “scavenger hunt” type format.  Learners need only to browse a site and create questions regarding things that are on the site.  A webquest takes  a lot more planning.  Both learners did not want to touch the webquest at all.   Making webquests will be removed from the instruction (and handouts) altogether, though it will be mentioned, it was too much to try to teach them how to do it in the time frame.  An extension instruction to cover webquests alone could be offered instead.


Handouts should not be given as a single packet, but distributed as single papers to be given at the appropriate sections of instruction.  The list of website resources should not be given at the beginning, as it created timing problems, the learners wanted to explore, they were impressed with the sites and were not aware that these resources existed.  At least this goal of the instruction was effective, perhaps too effective since it made moving on difficult.


Overall, the process needs to be trimmed some and given more focus.  Even trimmed down, the instruction would still require more time so that the learners could explore the world wide web and practice searching skills while receiving one-on-one help from the instructor.