A pilot study of e-quiz and e-review programs in the online blended learning of first-year engineering mechanics
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Copyright © 2012 Yu Dong, Anthony Lucey, and Garry Leadbeater
Background: In traditional teaching philosophy, large-class units such as First-Year Engineering Mechanics have experienced significant challenges with respect to a lack of close lecturer-student interaction, prompt performance feedback, and students’ engagement and self-motivation in the unit study. Online blended learning and self-assessment approaches have become useful tools to reinforce traditional teaching and assessment modes of ‘attending the real lectures’ or to ‘physically sit for the quiz tests’. Their advantage lies in study flexibility and unconstrained self-development of students in the designated unit activities. A pilot study of e-quiz and e-review programs was undertaken in a First-Year Engineering Mechanics unit to evaluate their usefulness in students’ blended learning. Purpose: How to enhance individual students’ unit feedback, minimise the physical constraints of quiz access, and remove the barrier of limited topic-review opportunities is expected to be tackled in this study. Design/Method: The Pearson Mastering Engineering online platform was utilised in the e-quiz practices. This contains interactive self-learning and self-assessment modalities with sufficient hands-on feedback to guide students through an entire set of quiz problems after completing the assessment. The e-review was implemented through Elluminate Live to allow students to participate in weekly online review sessions conducted by the unit lecturer using a graphics tablet. Statistical data were analysed for the user-friendliness of online educational tools, enhanced level of effective learning and the students’ feedback and view of the learning experience.Results: A small number of high-achiever participants tended to best utilise e-quiz program to advance their academic performance when compared to formal assessment components including the in-class quizzes and final examination. Underperforming students (as the majority) presented less interest in the e-quiz primarily due to their ‘assessment-oriented’ mindset. Better understanding of mechanics topics/contents and more engagement and self-motivation were found through the e-quiz surveys. The e-review study suggested that students preferred viewing the recorded e-review sessions to personally participating in the peer-to-peer live consultation. Student participants praised the user-friendly Elluminate Live features in terms of ‘interactive learning’, ‘collaborative learning’ and ‘a sense of learning community’. The usefulness of recorded e-review sessions and comprehensive review materials were also highly commended. Conclusions: The e-quiz pilot study offers great potential to enhance the first-year students’ understanding of complex mechanics concepts and impact positively on their flexible self-evaluation. It particularly facilitates more able students to further advance their achievement levels. The e-review was clearly recognised by students as a supplementary academic support to gain more direct individual interactions with lecturers. The higher utility of e-review materials, especially for viewing recorded e-review sessions, was shown to be beneficial to effective learning. The student disengagement and low participation/survey response numbers are of particular concern, which is anticipated to be altered when both programs are introduced as additional assessment components in the furture study.
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