New media and the inverted classroom: Investigating their impact on women in first-year composition
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Prompted by the emergence of financially accessible new media composing technologies and calls from composition specialists to redefine literacy practices in the writing classroom, a number of instructors have modified their first-year composition curriculum to involve students using, discussing, and creating digital compositions. The primary purpose of this study was to explore how the inclusion of these contemporary computer-based practices impact students, especially women. In particular, it focused on students' fluency using Web 2.0 new media technologies, the extent to which men and women experience these technologies differently, and the ways in which an increasingly popular use of a specific technology, video podcasts, impacts students in an inverted entry-level writing classroom. A total of 286 students participated in the two phases of this mixed-mode research study. The first phase, a limited scope quantitative study, involved an electronic questionnaire completed by 267 students enrolled in six colleges in the Southern and Midwestern regions of the United States during the fall 2012 and spring 2013 semesters. The second phase, a qualitative pilot study, was conducted with nineteen students enrolled at a two-year college in Texas during the fall 2012 semester. For this second phase of the study, I inverted four of my class sessions by creating and distributing ten video podcasts to students to watch as homework. Collectively, the data from these two phases revealed that: (1) while students have experience consuming digital content, they are not confident producing texts using Web 2.0 new media technologies, (2) a gap still exists between men and women's fluency with and attitudes toward technology, and (3) students preferred the inverted classroom over the traditional lecture format, but less than half of the students watched the podcasts. These results indicated that teachers sequence their technology assignments so that students experience first those technologies in which they are most familiar. Survey results also indicate that teachers inverting their classrooms must seek ways to motivate continually their students to watch the podcasts. Suggestions for future research include exploring how students enrolled in online courses as well as upper-level and graduate writing classes respond to the inverted classroom.