Perceptions of educational effectiveness of the World Wide Web in literature classrooms.

Roberts, Serena Kathrine, Ph.D., University of Kansas, 1999.


Web sites are gaining popularity as classroom resources; however, their effectiveness in reaching educational objectives has yet to be well documented. Since the Web is used as a curricular supplement with increasing frequency, some gauge of its pedagogical efficacy would be significant, especially with the continuing geometric growth in the number of Web sites.

Participants in professional listservs were surveyed to assess their perceptions about Web sites in secondary and post-secondary literature classes. In addition to gathering demographic data, the initial electronic survey contained six open-ended research questions. Qualitative analysis of the responses revealed that although Web use among literature teachers encompasses a range of activities, they use the Web to reinforce previous practices. Based on the data supplied about objectives and the way they are met, educational and monetary costs, problems, effectiveness, and impact of Web use, a Web site evaluation checklist was generated.

The study found that literature teachers are more concerned with the educational consequences of using the Web than with technological or budget problems and rely on students' reactions to tailor instruction to their ability levels and needs. Although an increasing number of educators are introducing the Web into their classrooms, the quality of student products continues to be judged in the traditional manner and the means teachers use to gather evaluative data has not changed significantly. Yet, projects students are being assigned and the skills sets they are developing are taking on new forms. Teachers do not use the Web for a singular purpose, but to address a reticulation of interrelated instructional concerns.

The purposive network sampling procedure placed specific constraints on participation, which, therefore, decrease the generalizability of the study's findings; the results are not necessarily applicable to all users of literary Web sites. Based on the foundation this pilot study establishes, further research should be conducted to measure the impact of this educational supplement and investigate whether the usage trends indicated by this study hold true with populations at other grade levels or with other subject matter. Through continued investigation, determinants of Web site qualities that best match learner profiles may be discovered.