Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Gauging 20 Time's Effectiveness

After spending a few months researching the emerging "20 Time" (or "Genius Hour") concept, I decided to implement a pilot program during the 4th quarter.   Here is a post that I wrote in April regarding our "Dive Into 20 Time."  In general, I was pleased with how our flipped-mastery units were progressing, but I still felt that the course lacked a few things.  First, I needed to find a way to incorporate inquiry, particularly the open-ended variety that was driven by student interest and motivation.  This is where I felt that merging 20 Time with the flipped-mastery approach could improve the class in profound ways.

Before we began, I was interested in what typically motivated students in school, what degree of autonomy they had, how much time they were allotted to complete projects, and whether they had a sense of purpose in their work (can you detect the influence of Drive here?)    I therefore created a "Pre-Survey" to get a better sense of this before starting the 20 Time projects.  I then gave a similar "Post-Survey" to determine how much 20 Time changed these views, if at all.  

In sum, 20 Time granted students more control over their learning, fostered a deeper understanding of the subject, established a greater sense of purpose, and granted enough time to learn what they deemed important.  

There was also a clear change in what motivated them.   For typical school projects, 39% of students were most motivated by earning rewards while 38% were motivated to avoid punishments. Only 23% were motivated to learn about the topic or skills for the sake of learning.  The post results reveal that 59% of students engaged in the 20 Time project primarily because they were motivated to learn about the topic or skill.  Although it is a very small sample size, the jump from 23% to 59% is rather substantial.  

Is this definitive proof that 20 Time / Genius Hour projects are always successful? Of course not. It is certainly encouraging, however, to see that students were more motivated and engaged in the learning process. As both research and anecdotal classroom experience can attest, increasing students' motivation is not only half the battle, but often the entire one.

The following table summarizes the results in greater detail for those interested.