F10-D&BP3-4 - Using Student Perceptions to Design Smart Class Participation Tools: A Technology Framework

3. Research Full Paper
Swapna Gottipati1 , Venky Shankararaman1, Mark Ng Wei Jie1
1 Singapore Management University

This full paper presents our research work on identifying the design considerations for developing an intelligent class participation tool for in-class discussion management.

Class participation in the context of tertiary education takes mainly two forms, in-class discussions and online forums. This work relates to in-class discussions. Participation through dynamic in-class discussions help to enhance the understanding of course concepts. It provides a dialogic condition for students, supports critical thinking and develops subject-matter knowledge. It thus enables dialogic learning, where learning takes place through dialogue. On a social level, students develop an appreciation of the diversity of viewpoints and through helping each other develop the ability to assist others in their thinking process.

One of the key benefits of participation in discussions is the opportunity it provides for students to gather feedback on the validity and relevance of one’s discussion points to the topic being discussed. This feedback is important as it enables students to evaluate their performance relative to a specific goal. The way in which feedback is given also affects students’ learning. According to previous research, feedback that provides learners with elaboration is comparatively more helpful than just providing judgement as “incorrect” or “correct”. The most beneficial form of feedback that should be given to students is one that is detailed, descriptive and specific to the topic discussed. This feedback can be provided in various forms such as; consolidated responses from the instructors, peers or in the form of a summary of the class discussions. However, manually generating such feedback is a tedious and painstaking process. Therefore, there is a need for technology-enabled classroom discussion tools to ensure that the discussion is captured effectively, automatically analysed and feedback is generated efficiently.

Research into the use of virtual classroom learning environments to drive discussions on the topics related to computer science have indicated that these environments, if designed well, provide opportunities for increasing collaboration as well as promoting peer to peer learning.  Other research has also suggested that student’s participation on e-learning activities directly contributes to predicting course success. There is also evidence that in order to support multiple methods of learning such as concrete experience, active experimentation, abstract conceptualisation, and reflective observation and understanding requires different tool designs that need to be incorporated into the classroom learning environments.

The purpose of this study is to make suggestions on the technology design considerations for effective learning from classroom discussions. Classroom discussions are tacit knowledge, and if they are not  captured and converted into explicit knowledge, the value is lost. Our aim is to define the key design requirements for a class participation tool that can benefit both faculty and the students by, enabling both to gain valuable insights from explicit knowledge generated from the discussions that can further enhance learning. We took a survey-based approach to understand the students’ perceptions of class discussions in terms of learning, grading and technology support. The survey questions aim to analyse the knowledge management features required for smart class participation tools. To gather the appropriate data needed to accomplish this goal, we established the following research objectives: First, what are the students’ perceptions of knowledge management features such as creation, sharing and using the knowledge and information generated in class discussions and their desire for new technology that can enhance this process, and second, how to formulate recommendations for designing a smart class participation tool based on their perceptions.

Our survey questionnaire framework in focused on three areas namely profile, process and technology. We conducted both qualitative and quantitative (statistical) analysis on the collected survey. Based on the survey results, we recommend a technology design framework and corresponding administrative settings to enhance use of technology tools in a live classroom environment to promote class participation.

This paper is structured as follows. Section 1 will provide an introduction to the paper. In Section 2, through literature review, we will describe the various approaches and challenges for preparing, analysing and assessing in-class discussions. Section 3 describes the research methodology for data collection, survey questionnaire framework and the analysis methods. In Section 4, we present our results, findings and analysis using both quantitative and qualitative modes. Based on our analysis of the survey results presented in Section 4, In Section 5, we present recommendations using a technology framework. We describe our prototype and preliminary results in Section 6 and conclude with future work in Section 7.