Research shows interactive whiteboards improve learning outcomes
Researchers from the Spaulding Youth Center have found that SMART Board™ interactive whiteboards can help students with autism to improve spontaneous peer learning and classroom skills and decrease maladaptive behavior. The center conducted the research as part of the Autism, Communication and Technology (ACT) project.
The study was designed by Kathleen McClaskey, president of EdTech Associates and Project Director for ACT, and Randy Welch, Chief Program Officer at the Spaulding Youth Center.
Launched in the fall of 2006, the study looked at the effects of technology on autistic students’ learning outcomes over a two-year period. It found steady, significant improvements throughout the project.
Catering for special needs
The Spaulding Youth Center in Northfield, New Hampshire, is committed to education for special needs students. It focuses on children with autism and children with neurological and emotional disorders, making it an ideal location for this research. The researchers found that SMART Board interactive whiteboards were part of a suite of technology products that improved communication, attention, computer literacy and participation among students.
Each classroom in the study was outfitted with a SMART Board interactive whiteboard, SMART Notebook software and additional online resources.
At the end of the first year, teachers who instructed in a group setting reported that students were more attentive during activities, modeled positive, spontaneous, social behavior and gained early literacy skills.
At the end of the second year, teachers said students began using tools to express ideas and stories and modeling positive classroom behaviors for their peers, including sitting quietly through lessons without help from adults. Students with autism learned to take turns using the SMART Board interactive whiteboard, improved their ability to work independently and developed better communication skills.
This ACT study complements previous studies conducted in 2005 in the United Kingdom and Australia that found similar results.
“The SMART Board interactive whiteboard, desktop drawing software and interactive online tools transformed the learning environment,” says McClaskey. “These tools gave the autistic learners a voice.”
A SMART Technologies spokesperson said, “Engaging students with autism in learning is the first step toward developing positive social behaviors.” Then added, “The results of the ACT research project demonstrate once again the positive impact SMART products can have on students with special needs.”
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