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Application Of Multimodal Software Tools To Teach Problem Solving Skills

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Using Technology to Enhance Education

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.222.1 - 14.222.16



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Paper Authors


Paul Blowers University of Arizona

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Paul Blowers is an associate professor in the Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering and received his PhD from UIUC in 1999. He has been selected as one of the top two teachers in his home department every year for the last nine years, was selected as the best faculty advisor from the University of Arizona in 2008, and also received one of seven national faculty advisor awards from the National Acadademic Advisors Association in 2008.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Application of Multimodal Software Tools to Teach Problem Solving Skills

Keywords: PC Tablet, OneNote, learning styles, tracking student use of media

Many faculty members have attempted to apply new technological advances in classroom settings to improve pedagogical approaches, increase student learning, and to run classrooms more effectively. Unfortunately, many of the approaches of applying these new tools do not accomplish these goals. This work investigates the use of multimodal (spoken verbal, written verbal, and visual) approaches integrated through Microsoft's OneNote program to change student access to problem solving frameworks in the context of a sophomore engineering course.

One of the challenges in early engineering education is getting students to move beyond plug- and-chug type solutions and frameworks to having them fully integrate new knowledge into an independently organized thought process for bringing complex information to bear in applied ways. Students have a difficult time developing these skills from textbooks because the texts are not interactive and because they often do not present information in more than one way (written verbal). Lectures can engage students in active learning techniques where students can apply information with guidance. However, the fast pace of some lecture materials will leave weaker students with little recourse other than to extensively rely on the textbook. Archived materials from lectures recorded with OneNote accompanied by verbal spoken explanations timed with the flow of the note development allows students the ability to review notes at their leisure and to capture the nuances of explanation they may have missed during the actual lecture. Examples of materials generated for the sample course and a brief tutorial of how to apply the software will be discussed.

Time based analyses of student access to materials indicates some interesting trends that can be used diagnostically to improve lecture delivery, timing of materials, and student access. Analyses will investigate students who have English as a second language to see if their use of the materials is heavier than others, possibly indicating areas where they should focus improvement of their aural comprehension skills.


The history of education is filled with innovation in approaches for enhancing student mastery of material while also allowing more efficient delivery of instruction. New technologies in the classroom are often attractive to faculty members because they can be used to foster learning in ways that are not possible through a traditional lecture style format. As instructors, faculty have moved from the not so distant past of writing on a black board, to writing in multiple colors on a white board, to using overhead projectors with preprepared slides, to using overhead projectors with PowerPoint[1], to using television sets in classrooms to watch videos in person or from distant classrooms[2, 3], to now using streaming video of lectures[4, 5] for asynchronous distance learning. Each innovation has been made to either remove a constraint from a learning environment, i.e., the instructor and student are in physically different places, or to improve the best of the current learning environment, i.e., involving students with hands-on computer simulations of new material instead of treating the information statically.

Blowers, P. (2009, June), Application Of Multimodal Software Tools To Teach Problem Solving Skills Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5355

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