Now that generous contributors have donated more than 150 Kindles to the Kindle Classroom Project, it’s time for a real, grown-up, scientific study about the effects of using Kindles on student reading identity and achievement.
I’d like the study to answer the following questions:
1. Do students who read on Kindles (aka Kindlers) read more than their peers who read physical books (aka non-Kindlers)?
2. Do the reading skills of Kindlers grow more than those of non-Kindlers?
3. Do the Kindlers grow to like reading more? Do they identify as readers more than the non-Kindlers?
4. For which students is the Kindle most and least effective? This could include race, gender, reading skill, or other characteristics.
5. Which Kindle configuration is most effective — mandatory-for-all, student opt-in, or by-teacher-invite?
OK, that’s a lot of questions, and I’ve never done a scientific-ish study, so this is where maybe you could help out! The good news is, I have a lot of resources ready to go. For example, I have 150 Kindles, several interested teachers, a high-quality online reading assessment, and a well-regarded reader identity survey. Those things are in place.
What’s not in place is exactly how to set up the study. Ideally, for a number of reasons, I’d like to work with just one teacher, preferably who teachers ninth graders.
But I’m not sure all of my questions can be answered with just one teacher and just 100 students. To be specific: Questions #1-3 (actually, maybe Question #4, too) deal with whether Kindlers do better than non-Kindlers. It seems to me that 1/2 of the students should be reading on Kindles while 1/2 should be reading physical books. Isn’t that right? If so, Does that mean that two classes should have Kindles throughout the year and the other two not get access to them? Or should we switch in the middle, just to see if the same students behave differently with- or without a Kindle?
Another concern: What should I do with question #5? It seems important to investigate whether there is a difference if students get to opt into the program vs. if they’re invited by a teacher or required by a teacher. Would reading growth go down if students feel forced to use a Kindle? Though I like these questions, I’m not sure how to pull off this part of the study at the same time as the Kindle vs. non-Kindle part. What are your thoughts?
Let me say again: I’d love to hear your ideas about how to set this up. Though I went to grad school (really, I did!), I’ve never taken a methods class. Let me know your thoughts. You can leave them in the comments or email me at mark (at) iserotope (dot) com. All help is appreciated. Thank you!