2010-2011 Grant Proposals
Freshman Calculus eLearn Observational Study
Learning Management Systems (LMS) provide new options for delivering assignments that allow immediate, extensive feedback on problem solutions. A end of semester anonymous survey indicated that a large majority of students prefer the online format for problem assignments to paper. There is evidence to suggest that among undergraduates who use a computer to study, those who are required to enter responses do significantly better on the post-test than students who just read or review the material (Roger M. Tudor, 1995).
The purpose of this grant is to conduct an observational study of usage patterns of eLearn assessments by freshman calculus students. We hope to gain insight into:
a) The amount of time students spend on assessments
b) The number of times students access the assessment or review the results
c) How errors and time spent on electronic assignments correlate with test scores and grades
The Angel LMS provides tracking data at the level of individual sessions, including start and end time and how many interactions there were for each assessment. We propose to extract this data and use it to shed light on the items mentioned above. The proposal requests funding for 60 hours of student labor (at $8 per hour) to perform the required data management and analysis tasks. Prior to giving the student analyst access to the data, the instructor will replace identifying information in the files with a subject number so that the student will not have the names of the participants.
The student analyst will be most likely be a mathematics major who has expressed an interest in a career in statistics, and will be expected to use a commercial statistical package like SPSS or MINITAB to analyze the data. It is hoped that the project will lead to a poster presentation and suggest areas for further research, or possibly a publication.
Aside from the monetary compensation, the student analyst will have an opportunity to participate in research and to learn how to use statistical software to analyze actual data.
There is considerable interest in measuring the time students spend outside class working on assignments, but this is difficult to measure. This study will provide an objective measure of at least part of the time students spend outside class, and will provide a lower bound for the time spent.. The College has invested considerable resources in the LMS software and support and the study will provide information on how those resources are being used. Within the mathematics department, it will provide information on the effectiveness of electronic assessment and insight into the study habits of students. Finally, it will provide an opportunity for scholarly research in teaching mathematics for the investigator.
COMMUNITY OUTREACH PLAN
Most likely at Stonehill the results would be presented during one of the periodic eLearn seminars conducted by IT. I have presented overviews of the automated assessments in this forum in the past. In addition, the results could appear in Class Notes and/or be submitted to a peer-reviewed journal.
Budget (detail how you will use the funds requested)
$480 student data analyst