Dissertation Topics


Name: Gerald Ardito
Topic: The Shape of Disruption: XO laptops in the 5th grade classroom.
Description: The purpose of this study is to investigate the impact of the One Child Per Laptop devices (the XO laptops) on the learning environment of a set of 5th grade classrooms. This study will use a thick, ethnographic approach to looking at student autonomy and problem solving skills. Prior research has shown that when students are given choices with technology tools and true opportunities for authoring/creating work products that demonstrate understanding, that the begin to own the learning environment itself. Since these devices were designed as educational tools in this vein, it seems appropriate to look at their impact on the learning environment.
Name: Holly Bukofser
Topic: Assessing Models of Professional Development for Technology Integration using Thinkfinity as a Springboard
Description: The purpose of this study is to assess two models of professional development (PD) for technology integration that employ Thinkfinity as a springboard for technology training. The literature indicates that a great deal of money and time has been spent on technology professional development in recent years; however, many teachers are not adopting and integrating technology effectively in their classrooms. Therefore, it is important to determine the best practices in designing and delivering PD so that school districts, communities, and students reap the most benefit from the investments they make. This study will focus on two models of PD: 1) one-day intensive workshop and 2) multiple session, consultant model of training and support. It will follow teachers participating in both models to determine the effect of each on their attitudes toward technology and in their classroom practice. Pre and post-PD surveys will be administered to determine changes in attitudes, and lesson plans will also be collected before and after participation in PD to determine how each model of PD impacts classroom practice. This study will benefit teachers, administrators, school districts, and ultimately, students.
Name: Shaker Lashuel
Topic: Use of handheld technology in data-driven decision making in public schools
Description: The purpose of this research is to study the impact of handheld technology on student achievement in grades K-3 in NYC public schools. The study will look at the achievement data of students in grades k-3 for the year 2008-2009 in public schools to determine whether the use of handheld devices to assess and inform instruction resulted in greater student achievement. In addition to this quantitative approach, the study will also explore teachers' attitude and perception regarding their use of data in the classroom using a qualitative method. This study aims to identify obstacles teachers face as well as best practices for the use of data to inform instruction and improve students literacy in the classroom.
Name: Kern Mojica
Topic: Ordered Effects of Using Three Technologies on Higher Level Cognitive Thinking Skills in Eighth Grade Technology Sstudents
Description: The purpose of this study is to investigate if there is an ordered effect of using the LEGO Mindstorms NXT Robotics Systems, Digital Storytelling with Windows Movie Maker, and the Marble Maze Challenge on higher level cognitive thinking skills in eighth grade technology students. Current research base in conjunction with established curriculum theory, suggest that LEGO Mindstorms NXT, Digital Storytelling, and the Marble Maze Challenge have potential to be useful educational resources. These projects also demonstrate the effectiveness of instructional technology as a tool when combined with manipulative in the student-centered curriculum, as evidenced by the promises of positive impact on student learning. However, as with any new curricular tool or resource, the costs associated with such an investment must be justified with verifiable results.

This study intends to build on this research foundation and further examine the effects of using different technologies in problem-solving activities. In an educational setting students will use experimental research methods while using a curricular approach that draws from student interest, is cooperative, hands-on, and practical.
Name: Madalyn L. Romano
Topic: School of education faculty and their use of technology: Are early adopters and late majority faculty different?
Description: For more than three decades, technology has been part of the educational landscape in schools in America. There are research studies that address education and technology from the perspective of K–12 students, K–12 teachers, pre-service teachers, and teacher education programs. Not much, however, is known about the technology use of university and college professors who are expected to prepare twenty-first century educators to use technology. This study was conducted to determine the factors that influence the use of technology by school of education faculty, the barriers and challenges they face, and education faculty's perceptions of the best method for their students to learn to use technology in an educational setting. The National Educational Technology Plan (NETP) and the ISTE standards for Teachers (NETS_T) provided input to determine the issues to be addressed and a framework for analysis of the results. Everett Rogers Diffusion of Innovation Theory was the basis for classifying participants into two adopter categories – early adopters and late majority faculty. The study determined that early adopters and late majority faculty differed on two factors – age and number of years at the university. A mixed methods research design was used to determine themes that influenced these groups. Participants completed an online survey to respond to the research questions. The surveys were followed up with in-depth interviews, which provided a deeper understanding of the survey findings. Some of the results indicated that both groups had similar issues – desire to increase student's access to course materials and lack of time. The interviews showed that these issues were from diverse perspectives. For early adopters creating videos and sharing web links provided access. Late majority faculty showed videos and used PowerPoint in class. Lack of time for an early adopter meant lack of time to integrate new Web 2.0 technologies into curriculum. Lack of time for late majority faculty meant lack of time to learn productivity tools: BlackBoard, Excel, etc. The results of this study can be used to help tailor professional development opportunities for school of education faculty and improve the learning experience for preservice teachers.
Name: Henry Ruan
Topic: The impact of asynchronous interaction on online Chinese language learning in a virtual high school setting
Description: The purpose of this study is to investigate the impact of asynchronous interaction on learning performance of online Chinese language learners in a virtual high school. Abundant studies show that interaction is the key in language learning. Asynchronous interaction which includes many online tools and features of a course ware facilitates online Chinese language learning. This study will use a quantitative correlation method to explore the relationships between asynchronous interaction and language learning outcomes in general as well as the learning outcome of reading and writing Chinese characters.
Name: Nathifa St. Louis
Topic: Using Existing Social Networks as a Supplemental Online Academic Mentor - An Extension of the Year-Up Program using Facebook
Description: The purpose of this study is to investigate the effect of online social networks on the decisions of post high school students who are not traditionally highly motivated to enter college. Generally such students would not make the extra effort ro personally seek out the information necessary to enroll and complete. This study would look at the possible positive effects of bringing the information to them in areas in which they already congregate, i.e. Social Networks. The "MentorFriend" online would serve a virtual guidance counsellor completely without offline one on one interaction.
Name: Abdo Zandani
Topic: Use of computers by elementary school teachers
Description: The purpose of this study is to investigate the use of (Technology) computers by elementary school teachers. Teachers must be able to use computers as a tool for the delivery of instruction. This study will examine how teachers are using technology to enhance the delivery of instruction via the use of technology available to them. Familiarity and use of the technology is essential if they are to prepare digital age student to succeed in the 21st century economy.