The interactive whiteboard: easier to be a good teacher!

United States - Robert Marzano is an American researcher who has worked extensively on the impact of interactive whiteboards (IWBs) in the classroom. One of his conclusions: three quarters of teachers more naturally use the strategies of a good teacher in the presence of the tool! The details…

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United States - Robert Marzano is an American researcher who has worked extensively on the impact of interactive whiteboards (IWBs) in the classroom. One of his conclusions: three quarters of teachers more naturally use the strategies of a good teacher in the presence of the tool! The details…

Robert J. Marzano, renowned researcher, co-founder and CEO of Marzano Research Laboratory located in Colorado, studied the effects on education and students of the presence or absence of interactive whiteboards.

Thus, 85 teachers and their 170 classes participated in the study which asked them to give the same content to certain classes using a IWB, and to others without the tool. The results have been published in November 2009.

One of the key elements of his research is that 3 out of 4 teachers were more effective with an interactive whiteboard in the classroom, since they then demonstrated the characteristics of a good teacher in general: the lesson takes place at a pace appropriate to the class, they build on what students already know, they use multiple forms of media (text, images, graphics, etc.) to convey information, they emphasize student participation, and they focus primarily on on content - not on technology.

According to Marzano, these are things a good teacher already does without the technology. However, he believes that the presence of the interactive whiteboard makes it easier to integrate these elements of teaching in various subjects and in front of students with different skills and abilities.

Spectacular gains for students under certain conditions

On the student side, the use of interactive tables resulted in an average gain of 16 percentile points in academic performance.

In addition, three special cases should be noted:
- Instant response boxes: in the classrooms where they were used and encouraged constant student participation, the gains reached 26 percentile points.

- The use of graphics, images, videos and other visual sources taken, for example, from the Internet to represent information was also associated with a gain of 26 percentile points among students.

- Interactivity of activities presented to students on the board, such as moving objects to a specific location, recognizing correct answers using a sound signal, and revealing information hidden behind objects at a convenient time are practices associated with a gain of 31 percentiles.

Despite this, nearly a quarter of teachers performed better without the interactive whiteboard.

The study therefore examined the practices of these teachers more closely:
- Their use of instant response boxes was limited to noting how many students had answered such and such an answer, and not to return and understand why some had the wrong answer.

- The visual aids were shown too quickly, without giving the students time to fully understand them.

- The visual aids were too crowded, making it difficult to identify the really important elements in the lesson.

- The use of sound confirmations seemed more for the "show" than for the positive reinforcement.

In summary, here is what the researcher offers teachers who want to successfully integrate the interactive whiteboard into their classroom.
- You have to plan how you want to organize the information to be presented. For example, grouping information into small, meaningful segments rather than presenting pages that are too full. To avoid going too quickly on certain pages, he also suggests inserting pages that remind you to take your time ...
- You have to use visual aids, but these supports must really serve the lesson and be related to what you want to achieve as a goal.
- After asking a question to which the students have answered with the instant response boxes, discuss the correct answer and also the why of the wrong answers. Thus, we leave the simple quiz to add the educational dimension.
- If you use audible response confirmations, such as applause, make sure that they are not too distracting and that they support the attention and motivation of the students.

The conclusions as expressed by Robert Marzano can be read here in an article published in the journal Educational Leadership.

By Audrey Miller

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About the Author

Audrey Miller
Audrey Miller
General manager of École branchée, Audrey holds a graduate degree in educational technologies and a bachelor's degree in public communication. Member of the Order of Excellence in Education of Quebec, she is particularly interested in the professional development of teachers, information in the digital age and media education, while actively creating bridges between the actors of the educational ecosystem since 1999. She is involved these days in particular in Edteq Association and as a member of the ACELF Communications Committee. When she has free time, she is passionate about her children, his rabbits, horses, good wine and... Web programming!

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