“No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.” – John Keating, Dead Poets Society
Do you remember the first PowerPoint presentation you ever did? I do.
I don’t remember how old I was, but I remember being dumbfounded by the PowerPoint technology. (PowerPoint, by the way, was invented in 1984! So it’s older than me…http://bit.ly/4G1XVT.) After playing around with it, I think I ended up with a white background, black words, and just about every ClipArt item I could find relevant to my topic. I figured the pictures were there, so why not use them?
In high school, PowerPoints were a pain. Everyone dreaded the assignment involving one, and everyone hated attempting to make theirs original, professional, pretty, cool, popular—the works. A PowerPoint was something to stress about.
Now that I’m in college, the tables have completely turned. You’d much rather an assignment involves an in-depth exploration of xyz presented by PowerPoint than an in-depth 20-page research paper. Another thing that I experienced only when I got to college: PowerPoint as a daily teaching tool.
I’m a sophomore, which gives me 4 semesters of classroom experience here at Maryland. Just for kicks, I took a poll of 15 sophomores, including myself, asking them the question “How many of your courses (teachers) use PowerPoint consistently as a teaching aid?” I asked them to divide this number by the total number of classes they have taken at this University, and I tallied the following results : 60% of the partipants classes DID use Powerpoint consistently, while 40% did not.
One thing the results do not show, but an interesting fact that I found is that PowerPoint usage depends greatly on major. If I remove the engineering students from the final results, the numbers change to 70% yes and 30% no. This article, http://bit.ly/cI0qk2, which starts out “Theorists can’t help it: When asked to explain something, they reach for a piece of chalk,” may explain the different in scores.
To me, it seems that the big question here is “does PowerPoint positively or negatively affect students success in the classroom?” According to a 2008 study conducted by Josh Susskind, professor of psychology at Northern Iowa, students felt that PowerPoint usage made class easier to attend as well as easier to understand. Students also claim that they took better notes, and that these notes were more organized, easier to understand, and useful in studying for exams when PowerPoint was employed. (http://bit.ly/ac7IXe) However, the study did not find any affect on student’s grades.
So I guess the question still stands. DOES PowerPoint affect grades? Is the technology a useful alternative to chalkboards and handouts? How do you feel about this?