Adsa Logo White Adsa Title White

Uses of technology to increase interest and learning

M. A. Wattiaux

Uses of technology to increase interest and learning
M. A. Wattiaux*. University of Wisconsin-Madison Madison, WI, USA.

Learning theories have made it clear that interest and motivation are essential to the learning process. Instructional technology is often instructor-centered (what can technology help me accomplished in my class?), but it can have both beneficial or detrimental impacts on students’ engagement with each other and with course content. Our objective was to illustrate the use of technology to enhance the quality and effectiveness of in-class activities in small enrollment, discussion-based courses with emphasis on creating a student-centered learning community. In this study, data were collected via a mid-semester survey in a senior level ruminant nutrition course taught between 2012 and 2017 in which readings and quizzes were completed on-line prior to class, followed by in-class discussion of the reading material. Students quantified on a scale of 1 (not at all) to 10 (a great deal) the extent to which each of the following components of the class help their learning: (a) the readings, (b) the web-based quizzes, (c) the in-class discussion, and (d) the explanations given on the chalkboard. Contribution of each class component to the teaching and learning environment of the class was calculated for each student as a deviation from self-reported “overall level of learning” in the class, which was quantified elsewhere in the survey using the aforementioned scale. Overall level of learning was (mean ± SE; n = 153) 7.3 ± 0.13 and average deviation for (a) reading, (b) on-line quizzes, (c) in-class discussion and (d) use of the chalkboard was -0.82 ± 0.16, -0.27 ± 0.14, 0.63 ± 0.14, and 0.64 ± 0.17, respectively. Students perceived more learning with in-class activities (c and d) than activities (a and b) completed on-line prior to class. Although, students did not feel confident that reading contributed “positively” to the learning environment of the class, the on-line quizzes provided them with a certain degree of self-efficacy. These data suggested also that the use of a chalkboard to explain, or more generally to capture and share elements of a discussion in writing, may be a powerful complement to the thinking, speaking, and listening that takes place during in-class discussions.

Keywords: pedagogy, teaching and learning.