Planning a Needs Assessment
Timothy D. Jensen
Our goal of this needs assessment is to determine the justification of supplying laptops for all our incoming students to use while in the didactic phase of their training. The reasoning behind this decision is based on our knowledge of the students that are arriving and their common knowledge of technology in this growing digital era. The students range in age from 17 to 32 years old. All have been using technology their entire life and have integrated it in most of their learning years, while in school or at home.
Our plan to start this new program is to purchase 120 laptops and integrate them into 2 classrooms. These two classrooms will be closely monitored for the student’s grade point averages in comparison to the remaining student body which have been assigned to verbal instructional classroom environments only. This study will be conducted over a 12-week course and all results will be combined in the end to determine the overall grade point averages of those students with the addition of laptop technology compared to the remaining. Information resulting from these studies will then determine whether the use of laptop technology was beneficial and if the additional expense can be justified.
Other expenses to be considered in the increased budget plan are, a minimum of two or more laptop charging carts for each classroom, classroom tables that are equipped with ethernet connections and power sources, wireless high-speed internet modems mounted in each classroom, maintenance and cleaning equipment for the laptops in each classroom and finally an information technology specialist dedicated to our program for any assistance needed during classroom sessions.
Needs Assessment Timeline
You may very well be able to complete this study successfully by following the suggested timeline indicated below. This suggested timeline is meant to provide you an idea of what will be involved in the application as well as an overall gist of the beginning and ending timelines as well as the navigation of the process to avoid the expected pressure of not meeting the suggested deadline.
Laptop Study Proposals :
Summer Quarter –
□ Begin by mapping out the two specific classrooms to be utilized
□ Thoroughly brief all the instructors for both classrooms that the projected course will be used to determine the needs of technology across the entire program
□ Plan the lessons and projects that can be used on the laptops and adjust any that will be used to be compatible with all systems involved
□ All instructors will attend a training session with the laptops to familiarize themselves with the equipment
□ Supervisors will discuss their plans and ideas
□ Equipment will be installed into both classrooms
□ Information technology specialist will ensure all systems are functional
□ Brainstorm ideas and potential issues and discuss with faculty/mentors
□ Incoming students briefed on new technology
□ Begin filling out hand receipts for all equipment
□ Familiarize students with online lesson plans
□ begin summer session lessons
□ Evaluate GPA’s of students at half way mark of course.
□ Draft an outline for potential computer problems that arose and solutions to fix those issues.
□ Start preparing final paperwork for end of course evaluation for students to complete on line.
□ Finalize course lessons and prepare students for final examination
□ Collect GPA’s from both classrooms and submit results to supervisors
□ Evaluate effectiveness of laptop program
□ Finalize everything and confirm results with all figures
□ Submit results to higher command
□ Collect all laptops and store for next session
□ Conduct after actin review and compare results with other traditional classrooms to evaluate tech ology usefulness.
The necessary budget for this project is going to have to be comprised of the cost of laptop from the government contract sources, approximately $1200.00 dollars a laptop, classroom desk with plug and ethernet capability approximately $200.00 dollars a desk, and finally the laptop charging stations 3 per room at $500.00 dollars each. Total cost for 2 classrooms comes to $151,500 with all equipment and resources needed to conduct class.
Qualitative and quantitative data from both laptop and non-laptop classrooms were collected during the summer session of two classrooms. The information utilized were classroom observations, student questionnaires, and student focus groups.
Each laptop classroom was observed 4 times on different occasions. Comparison classrooms were observed 4 times. All the observations were conducted by the supervising team of the EMT branch. The observations ranged from 60 minutes to half day schedules and focused on laptop usage, such as: (a) the type of software used; (b) the role of the instructor; (c) the role of the trainees; and (d) the interaction among students, and between the teacher and the students. Spreadsheets were created with detailed field notes for every observation relevant to the study.
Quantitative data was collected: (a) Computer Importance; (b) Motivation/Persistence; (c) Study Habits; and finally(d) Attitudes toward instruction and lesson plans. A total of 120 students will complete the course during the months of Jun-Aug.
Student Focus Groups:
Additional qualitative data will be collected from a total of 20 students during the session (five students per group). 5 students from each class were selected to participate. Half will be from high GPA’s and half will be from Low GPA’s. All focus group participants will be identified by their classroom teachers who had adequate opportunities throughout the session to assess the students. Questions were targeted toward five major topics: (a) Do you think is important to know about computers? Why or why not; (b) What do you like/dislike about computers? and (c) How do you use your computer in the living quarters? The focus group will be conducted at the end of the class day and will take about 40 minutes to conduct with a supervisor as an observer. All results will be documented and passed on for further review.
Laptop programs represent a very important aspect in the field of educational technology because their popularity amongst the younger generation. A better understanding of how we use them, when to use them, and to what degree they will work to support trainee learning, particularly with new trainees in the EMT program. The research studies that we are performing, directly link laptop implementation strategies to specific student attitudes can enhance the effectiveness of laptop programs in the EMT basic training field and their potential to provide advanced information access to all students, authentic medical experiences, and skills needed to work in the 21st century as an emergency medical technician. We hope that this work will demonstrate, access to technology and to well-prepared teachers who value the experiences that technology offers will ensure equality of digital opportunities among Army trainees and civilian students. In the future study we will need to include the entire program of teachers and students involved in the implementation of laptops to ensure that the highest quality of trained EMT’s are being produced throughout our course. These future studies will also need to focus on developing a reliable data collection instrument that can measure trainee’s attitudes toward technology as well as reliable assessments that can better capture cognitive gains among trainees in laptop classrooms.