Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Research Papers and Prezi

The article, “Add Pizzazz to That Research Paper with Prezi!” is about the supplemental use of the online digital-authoring tool Prezi in a language arts classroom.  Middle school students were required to create an outline and then write a research paper; they then created a Prezi based off of the same initial outline, including images, video and text.  “Prezi is a virtual whiteboard that transforms presentations from monologues into conversations, enabling viewers to see, understand and remember ideas.  It mixes images and words to create a visual story with flow and narrative.”  Authors Peters and Hopkins first assessed the impact of Prezi on students’ content knowledge prior to the Prezis being created but after the students had written their research papers.  A post-Prezi assessment revealed that students’ overall comprehension of their topics increased by 30%.  “More than 50% of the students demonstrated growth in their knowledge of their topic after completing their Prezis. Of the students who demonstrated growth, the average amount of growth after developing the Prezi was more than 65%.” 

One of the more interesting aspects of this article for me was the massive growth in parent and guardian attendance at student-led parent conferences where students got to debut their Prezis.  Previous conferences had attendance rates of less than 20%, while the Prezi conferences had 95% attendance.  Some kids even brought extended family.  I think that the excitement that this kind of technology brings to the kids is infectious; in this particular case, students were able to share their Prezis with several other families in addition to their own, as the conferences were grouped with several students in each, subsequently helping to begin building a “learning community.”  This alone would be reason to use Prezi in my own classroom.

Using Prezi allowed students to demonstrate research and information fluency and critical thinking skills, as well as their grasp of technology operations and concepts.  There was a demonstration of communication skills, as students presented virtually and orally to their peers, as well as to a larger audience.  The authors pointed out that they may have introduced Prezi prior to the writing of the research papers, to expand the knowledge base ahead of the papers.  I think that might be a wise idea, though the resulting growth in comprehension and knowledge does not warrant a change in strategy.  

Peters, T. and Hopkins, K. (2013) Add pizzazz to that research paper with Prezi! Learning &Leading with Technology, 40(8), 36-37.


  1. Very interesting! It's wonderful that the students were so excited about their Prezi's that they invited extended family to the presentations. Technology is a wonderful way to get students excited about learning. Giving the students the tools to make an impressive presentation probably also helped with their confidence with the subject matter as well. This sounds like a great strategy for teaching with technology.

  2. What I found most interesting was the positive results of parent attendance at conferences. I agree that this is primarily because of the students excitement to display their work. Anytime that a student is inspired and excited about what they are doing is a positive thing. That will increase learning all on its own, however I feel that the authors eagerly jump to conclusions. I feel as though prezi was what inspired the students, but it was that the students pride in their work that created the results. The prezi was just a tool to help achieve that level of pride.
    Valid insight,
    Tom Gongwer