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Study of a sequence to stimulate the engagement in one-to-one iPad programs at elementary schools


The number of one-to-one mobile programs in elementary schools as a resource to substitute the textbook has become popular worldwide. However, findings of studies that seek to enable understanding of how the daily use of these mobile devices affects student’s engagement in the classroom are heterogeneous. The authors utilized and adapted a self-system model of motivational development in order to better understand the mechanisms behind the promotion of academic engagement in one-to-one iPad programs. For this, an analysis using structural equations was conducted on data collected from a network of 20 elementary schools and 1,011 5th and 6th grade students in Spain, who used iPads daily in their Language and Mathematics courses. The results showed that certain activities –according to the course- with the iPad influenced the students’ engagement, while promoting authentic learning and satisfying their needs. The study contributes with a comprehensive approach and knowledge about the reasons behind the success or failure of these types of programs on learner engagement.

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This study was funded by the Coordinated I + D + I Project called “Citizens’ Media Competences in emerging digital media (smartphones and tablets): innovative practices and educommunication strategies in multiple contexts” (EDU2015–64015-C3–1-R) (MINECO/FEDER), and of the “Media Education Network” of the State Program for the Promotion of Excellence in Scientific-Technical Research, the State Subprogram for Knowledge Generation (EDU2016–81772-REDT), financed by FEDER (European Regional Development Fund) and Spain’s Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness.

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Correspondence to Ramón Tirado-Morueta.

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Appendix 1

  Language course Mathematics course
  S-S S-O I-S I-O S-S S-O I-S I-O
Team games .74     .82    
Presentations in class .67     .86    
Team projects .79     .88    
Team working .77     .85    
The teacher proposes ideas to the group   .65    .64    
The teacher guides me   .70     .79   
The teacher corrects me while I am learning something   .74     .68   
The teacher solves the group’s questions   .75     .78   
The teacher solves my questions   .74     .78   
The teacher guides the group   .78     .78   
Demostrations and examples    .63     .67  
Research of information    .63      .75
The teacher’s explanations    .69    .64   
Problem’s solutions    .61     .75  
Practical exercises    .66     .80  
Individual readings b     .70     .77
Individual games b     .73     .74
Individual work b     .53    .72  
AVE .55 .52 .41 .43 .66 .55 .54 .56
Composite reliability .83 .87 .78 .69 .90 .88 .82 .79
Alfa of Cronbach .73 .82 .63 .36 .87 .83 .70 .49
  1. S-S: Social-Structured; S-O: Social-Open; I-S: Individual-Structured; I-O: Individual-Open
  2. asocial or individual action
  3. bstructured or opened action

Appendix 2

  Example Applications used
Course: Language
Social-Structured. The students work as a team, do projects, games in teams and class presentations. (1) “Short group work sessions are proposed daily for a final project. For example, the review of a text to improve it with peer collaboration; expressive reading activities, including reading play fragments, and after viewing it, students act it out”. Safari
Social-Open. The teacher proposes ideas, guides (individually/group), resolves doubts (individually/group), corrects and revolves doubts (individually/group). (1) “Guidelines are presented daily on how to work, doubts are resolved, and the work is corrected afterwards. For example, during a session to practice oral expression…I proposed an activity in which they had to look for information on the Internet, to study the different characteristics of the expression according to the context (academic, leisure, etc.) and to use the audio-visual support to present their findings” Safari
Individual-Structured. The teacher explains, and the students watch demonstrations and examples, search for information, solve problems and do exercises. “In each session, a proposal is presented to research grammar aspects, and to present them with Keynote. For example, when the division of words into syllables is explained. For literature subjects, short videos are shown”. iMovie
Individual-Open. The students work individually, read and play. “Individual readings and exercises are conducted daily. For example, readings proposed in the book, selected, that are close to their interests, to promote written expression: reading. Or creating short texts, poems…” Polygon Education
Course: Mathematics
Social-Structured. The students work as a team, do projects, games in teams and class presentations. And the teacher proposes ideas. “Each unit is presented as group work. For example, making a mural that explains the decimals or the geometric shapes.” Keynote
Social-Open. The teacher proposes ideas, guides (individually/group), resolves doubts (individually/group), corrects and revolves doubts (2) (individually/group). “The questions from the previous class are answered daily (i.e. decimals), from individual as well as group exercises.” Blinklearning
Individual-Structured. The students work individually, watch demonstrations and examples, search for information, solve problems and do exercises. “We do individual exercises daily, for example, individual calculation strategies; the equivalence between the elements of the Decimal Number System or fractions…” Safari
King of Math
Individual-Open. The students search for information, read and play. (2) “Readings are used as the motivating activity to see the use of mathematics in real life, in games.” Blinklearning
  1. (1)Social-Structured and Social-Open are related
  2. (2)Social-Open and Individual-Open are related

Appendix 3

  Study A: Laguage Study B: Mathematics
  Load AVE Alfa FC Load AVE Alfa FC
Behavioral Engagement (BE)
  I don’t get distracted while I’m doing homework. .68 .51 .69 .81 .70 67 .69 .80
  I answer the questions      .59    
  I put effort on learning .75     .73    
  I continue trying if a task is complicated .70        
  I ask in class      .64    
  I perform the activities that my teacher gives me on time         
  I try to learn more about what we do in class .72     .66    
Affective Engagement (AE)
  I like this subject .80 .65 .72 .85 .78 .61 .68 .82
  I enjoy learning new things in this subject. .86     .83    
  I want to understand what we learn in this subject .75     .73    
Cognitive Engagement (CE)
  I check the class homework to ensure it is correct .69 .48 .64 .79 .78 .53 .71 .82
  I think about different ways of solving a task .77     .73    
  I try to connect what I learn with what I already know .68     .70    
  I try to learn from my mistakes when I do it wrong .63     .70    
Social Engagement (SE)
  I consider my classmates’ ideas .73 .46 .60 .77 .72 .47 .61 .77
  I try to understand my classmates’ ideas .67     .73    
  I try to work with classmates who can help me .60     .59    
  I try to help others who have difficulties. .69     .68    
Authentic Learning – Task (TA)
  The topics done in class are connected with real life .86 .74 .65 .85 .87 .75 .67 .86
  The tasks are similar to the ones I would have in real life .86     .87    
Authentic Learning - Teaching (TE)
  I see examples that help me understand better. .62 .42 .73 .81 .61 .42 .74 .81
  The topics are shown from multiple points of view .62     .55    
  We do the tasks in groups. Debating on their resolution .52     .51    
  The teacher makes me think about the topics studied .74     .74    
  .. encourages me to express myself .73     .74    
  .. explains and guides us when necessary .65     .68    
  .. makes us evaluate our tasks .49     .56    
Autonomy (AUT)
  We make decisions about how to develop the class .79 .58 .65 .81 .78 .50 .52 .75
  We decide how to perform group tasks .74     .68    
  We have interesting discussions in class         
  We participate in class voluntarily .77     .67    
  The teacher considers our opinions         
Relationship (REL)
  How many classmates respect and listen to you? .72 .56 .61 .79 .69 .55 .59 .78
  How many classmates annoy you and make fun of you? .79     .81    
  With how many classmates do you get on well? .74     .71    
Competence (COM)
  I can do all the tasks that are proposed in class .78 .60 .66 .82 .74 .62 .70 .83
  I am sure I will master all the contents of this year .76     .80    
  Even if the tasks are difficult, I am sure I will complete them correctly .78     .81    

Appendix 4

Table 4 Correlations between variables and the √AVE of each variable

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Tirado-Morueta, R., Berlanga-Fernández, I., Vales-Villamarín, H. et al. Study of a sequence to stimulate the engagement in one-to-one iPad programs at elementary schools. Educ Inf Technol 25, 509–532 (2020).

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  • Collaborative learning
  • Elementary education
  • Mobile devices
  • Authentic learning
  • Engagement, one-to-one mobile programs