June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
Computers in Education
15.196.1 - 15.196.9
Assessment of Student Learning When Using Tablet PCs and the Software DyKnowTM
Many advances in technology in software and hardware promise to improve student learning. Of the more promising technologies to come onto the market recently were the tablet PC and an interactive-education software package called DyKnow. This combination of software and hardware offered to solve many of the problems that students and instructors face in a regular classroom such deficient student understanding, lack of student participation, and incomplete classroom notes.
An objective of this work was to measure student learning comparing two equivalent groups of engineering students in their first semester of thermodynamics. One group was taught using a conventional lecture style, while the other group utilized tablet PCs and the DyKnow software. Both groups were given the same final exam, at least, so their respective levels of understanding could be assessed and compared. These experiments were conducted for three consecutive semesters.
Results of both groups were compared by selecting pairs of students with similar GPAs and applying statistical methods on the two groups’ scores. The results from all semesters were very similar. Students using tablet PCs and the DyKnow system did not show better understanding of the subject than the students in the traditional classroom.
Traditionally, three steps are involved in the teaching and learning of engineering concepts. First, scientific laws and principles are explained using illustrations, charts and equations. The instructor then demonstrates the application of the laws and principles to engineering problems. Finally, student understanding is enhanced and evaluated using reading assignments, homework, quizzes, and examinations. The first two steps are usually delivered in a lecture format by engineering instructors using markers on a whiteboard, chalk on a chalkboard or Power Point slides. This type of lecture will be called a traditional lecture in this work.
Research in education has shown that traditional lectures have limited success in helping students learn science and engineering courses1. Lectures in these subjects usually deliver complex material at a rapid pace while students are trying to understand and take good notes. In many instances neither the student is able to understand the instructor well, nor does he or she take good notes. According to Wieman and Perkins2 the retention rate may be as low as 10% after just 15 minutes of lecture for a nonobvious fact that is presented in a lecture. In another experiment conducted by Hrepic et.al3, revealed that students even in an ideal lecture setting may: 1) hear and record information incorrectly, 2) attach the wrong meaning to correct statements and, 3) make unjustified extrapolation leaps or inappropriate generalizations.
Another common problem in a traditional lecture is that few students participate in classes. Many students are afraid to raise their hands for fear of criticism or lack of confidence. When
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