Published in Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition: Portland, OR, January 1, 2005.
NOTE: At the time of publication, the author John Chen was not yet affiliated with Cal Poly.
In this project our goal is to improve student learning in the foundation mechanics course Statics. In this case improved learning is defined as knowledge retention (durability) and knowledge application in a different environment (transferability). We aim to do this by providing rapid feedback to students of their understanding of key concepts and skills being presented. The feedback system acts as the focal point and catalyst to encourage students to assist each other in correcting misconceptions or deepening each other’s understanding of the topic or skill at hand. Furthermore, the system allows the professor to assess the students’ level of comprehension (or misconception) in a just-in-time fashion, and thus guiding his or her pacing and coverage of the material. The rapid feedback is enabled through wireless-networked handheld personal digital assistants (PDAs) or flashcards. In the first two years of the study, we have implemented the system in two sections of Statics using a crossover design of experiment, where one section receives the rapid feedback ‘treatment’ (i.e., use of the PDAs) while the other (the ‘control’ group) receives rapid feedback on the exact same topics, but only through the use of flashcards. After a predetermined period, the sections swap their feedback treatment. Several swaps are achieved during the course, and in this manner each student acts as his or her own experimental control to assess the effectiveness of the treatment. This paper focuses on our experimental methods, the statistical analysis of data, and results of student learning and student satisfaction from the first implementation.
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