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Use Of Tablet Pcs To Generate Class Discussion And Facilitate Deeper Understanding

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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

14.1305.1 - 14.1305.12



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Paper Authors

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Ali Farahani National University, San Diego

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Ronald Uhlig National University, San Diego

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

Use of Tablet PCs to Generate Class Discussion and Facilitate Deeper Understanding


At ASEE 2008, we reported encouraging results from our use of Tablet PCs in teaching complex information structures in wireless engineering and network security classes. In recent years there have been a number of similar studies on the use of Tablet PCs in the higher education classroom and their impact on teaching and learning. Most, if not all, report that learning is enhanced when tablet PC’s are employed to increase interaction between students and instructors and among students.

A common approach in keeping students engaged and interacting is by periodically broadcasting questions to students and having them send their responses anonymously to the instructor. All or selected answers are then shared with the class in order to generate discussion. In this paper we will specifically focus on this mode of utilizing Tablet PCs in an undergraduate Computer Science Data Structures course to study the impact and benefits of this facilitated discussion in terms of students’ deeper understanding and improved learning of the lecture material. We will report both quantitative data that show improvements in scores on exams, and we will provide examples of specific exercises given in class, along with students’ answers.

In addition, we will report on students’ perceptions of the impact of this mode of teaching on their ability to learn. This will be based on analysis of questionnaires completed by the students, and comparisons of results for this undergraduate computer science class with results from graduate wireless communications classes. The graduate student surveys yielded an average score of 4.21 out of 5 points on the positive impact of the interactive use of Tablet PCs on improving learning. We also provide some comments made by graduate and undergraduate students.

This work is made possible by a Hewlett-Packard Corporation Technology for Teaching – Higher Education grant received in 2007.


Microsoft PowerPoint slides are still considered to be among the standard tools in modern lectures; as stated by many authors presentation slides help instructors prepare well thought out and organized lectures that can be distributed to students in either electronic or hardcopy format prior to start of class. Students can then concentrate on understanding the concepts while adding clarifying notes and comments on their copy of the notes. The integration of pen support for digital ink in more recent versions of PowerPoint on a Tablet PC has clearly helped address some of the limiting features and

Farahani, A., & Uhlig, R. (2009, June), Use Of Tablet Pcs To Generate Class Discussion And Facilitate Deeper Understanding Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5045

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