Title

The effects of using Renzulli Learning on student achievement and student motivation

Date of Completion

January 2008

Keywords

Education, Educational Psychology|Education, Technology of

Degree

Ph.D.

Abstract

Renzulli Learning is an online educational learning system designed to create a profile of students' interests, learning styles, and expression styles and match them with a vast array of enrichment resources, outlets for creative productivity, and high-end learning activities and projects designed to enhance students' engagement and learning. Only one previous research study has been conducted to investigate the effects of the use of Renzulli Learning on student achievement. ^ This study further investigated the effectiveness of enrichment teaching delivered through this online program. This mixed methods study quantitatively examined the effect of using Renzulli Learning on student achievement in the areas of reading comprehension, science, and social studies, as measured by the subtests of the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills. Additionally, differences in teachers' perceptions of students' motivation as measured by the Scales for Rating the Behavioral Characteristics of Superior Students-Revised Motivation scale were quantitatively examined. Classes of students in grades 3–6 from 4 schools were randomly assigned to use Renzulli Learning for a period of 16 weeks. A total of 23 classes (11 treatment and 12 control) with 168 students in the treatment and 186 students in the control were included in the study. Students in the treatment group were compared to students in control classrooms who had not yet had access to Renzulli Learning. Qualitative observations were also conducted as a fidelity measure and to determine how teachers implemented Renzulli Learning. ^ A repeated measures analysis of variance was used to explore differences between treatment and control conditions. A qualitative examination of the integration of technology from the perspective of teachers, students, and purpose and use of Renzulli Learning indicated that despite students' enthusiasm, access to computers and the pressure to prepare for state assessments prevented teachers from fully integrating technology into their current practices. After 16 weeks, students who had access to Renzulli Learning exhibited significantly higher growth in social studies achievement (p = .023) than students in the control group. No differences between groups were found in reading comprehension, science, or teachers' perception of students' motivation. Also, a lack of training in enrichment teaching precluded many teachers from extending students' learning. Greater use of Renzulli Learning resulted from those teachers who utilized it as a tool to support their instruction, particularly in the areas of social studies. Observations of the treatment classes revealed that students had great diversity in the activities that they chose, and it was not uncommon for nearly every student to be working on a different activity. ^