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An App Changes Students’ Behavior – By Putting Them in Charge

April 27, 2016

Keeping students focused is never-ending task.  For many teachers, like special education teacher Alexandra Beckman of Ozark, Missouri, it can feel like more time is spent wrangling the class than actually teaching. Her fifth and sixth graders sometimes struggle with paying attention and staying on task. Lately, though, Beckman has been getting some digital assistance thanks to an app called I-Connect. She’s found that this tech tool isn’t just keeping students focused: it’s also empowering them to practice self-control and responsibility.

How can an app help students be more independent? It’s simple. I-Connect doesn’t demand that students pay attention, or scold them after the fact. Instead, it just asks one question: “Am I on task?” Students can answer “yes” or “no” with one tap on the screen, and that simple action helps them remember their goals and monitor their progress. But that’s not all: the app also tracks their response each time, so that Beckman can home in on students who have trouble on certain topics or at certain times of day.

Apps like these are a great way of keeping the class engaged – but even more importantly, they help teach self-control and give students ownership over their own development. “If we can help students realize, ‘Hey, I am in charge of my behaviors and choices, then they start gaining confidence,” says Kristi Emerson, another teacher who’s tried self-monitoring apps at her middle school in Iowa. “They see success, and that snowballs.”