Colette's Pepperdine Website

Action Research Project

Engaging Students with Authentic Technology Projects
by Colette M. Cassinelli

Action Research Final Paper

In my Action Research I decided to update the curriculum of my high school Computer Application’s course and investigate what factors were involved in engaging students in technology lessons.

After reviewing the research about 21st century students and how they learn, I put aside the course textbook and started from scratch. Using the National Educational Technology Standards I planned out three instructional units that transformed content standards into integrated projects.

Throughout my research cycles, I structured lessons that had real purpose and real audiences. For example, students worked in teams to research personality traits for various careers and then created interactive kiosks for a school-wide career fair. I found the students to be highly engaged in class activities, but as a teacher I was still concerned whether the students were learning and retaining specific technology skills.

I found that revisiting skills from the one unit to the next reinforced the Word and Excel skills they were learning. I also found that students were eager to learn new technology skills and thrived in collaborative activities. In one such lesson, class members took photos of school lunches and analyzed the data for nutritional content, cost and recyclable waste. Students then tried to persuade the school community about nutrition and recycling by making posters, writing letters and recording podcasts!

Having real audiences made all the difference in the quality of projects. Students also reported that they like having choice in their technology projects. In one assignment, class members chose to showcase their desktop publishing skills by making a real newspaper for incoming students.

No longer will I stand in front of my computer lab and drill students on computer skills in isolation. Instead, I have found that technology-rich lessons that give students opportunities to collaborate, communicate, and create projects for authentic audiences result in learning and engaged students.

The Action Research Cycle:


I utilized Moodle, a course management system for class assignments and documentation.


Updated: 10/1/07

Contact me: