About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 7249-7258
Publication year: 2016
ISBN: 978-84-617-5895-1
ISSN: 2340-1095
doi: 10.21125/iceri.2016.0652

Conference name: 9th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 14-16 November, 2016
Location: Seville, Spain

USING STUDENTS’ COLLABORATION TO IMPROVE ACTIVE PARTICIPATION TO UNIVERSITY COURSES WITH A LARGE NUMBER OF ATTENDEES

M.M. Ashenafi, G. Riccardi, M. Ronchetti

Università di Trento (ITALY)
At least in certain educational systems, bachelor courses are often rather crowded, with more than hundred students sitting in an auditorium. In such conditions, for teachers it is not easy to get an indication of whether students are keeping the pace, or if they are simply taking notes and try to grab something out of the lectures. To make sure students keep the pace, it is possible to assign homework, as usually done in US Universities, and/or have intermediate formal assessments. Such approach is certainly effective, but it is also costly. Homework needs to be graded: this time-expensive activity is rarely performed by teachers, but rather assigned to teaching assistants. Not every academic system however has such figures. So what can be done to “force” students to keep the pace, whiteout a massive time investment?

Can a system be devised, which draws on students’ collaboration to solve such problem? We came out with a possible solution, which is based on a sort of gaming strategy, and we investigated if this strategy was effective.

In the paper we will describe our solution, which here we summarize, and report the results of our investigation.

Our system is a web-based, collaborative system. Every week, students are requested to formulate a question about the topics touched in the lectures. Questions are collected, semi-automatically sorted, and finally manually selected so that a relatively small subset of them is picked. The questions are then automatically assigned to the students: every question is given to 4/5 randomly chosen students, making sure none of them gets his own query. Students then have a given time to formulate a response. After the deadline, the system automatically sends to each student a set composed by a question and the collected answers. Everything is kept anonymous, and the system makes sure that what every students gets does not include her/his answer or question. At this point students are requested to evaluate their peer’s responses, grading them. In the process they gain some points, stemming partly from the activity they perform, and partly from the grades their answers get.

As an incentive, students get a small part of their final exam score through this mechanism.
We evaluated the system and the effectiveness of its didactic strategy by monitoring students’ participation throughout the course, and by collecting feedback via a-posteriori on-line questionnaires, which contain several five-point Lickert scale items, multiple- choice, multiple-answer questions and some open-ended questions.
We analysed and will report the statistical significance of the questionnaires results.

The system we devised and employed reaches its goal, by acting as a stimulus for students to keep the pace in a first-year bachelor course characterised by large number of attendees (approximately 150 per year). Overall, students like the approach and the system, although its interface is still relatively rudimental. They report being encouraged to keep the course pace, and that the approach forces them to timely and regularly review the content of the lectures. They feel that their study is more productive and effective. In the paper we will report details about these findings, which here are only summarized, with the full results of our questionnaires.
@InProceedings{ASHENAFI2016USI,
author = {Ashenafi, M.M. and Riccardi, G. and Ronchetti, M.},
title = {USING STUDENTS’ COLLABORATION TO IMPROVE ACTIVE PARTICIPATION TO UNIVERSITY COURSES WITH A LARGE NUMBER OF ATTENDEES},
series = {9th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation},
booktitle = {ICERI2016 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-617-5895-1},
issn = {2340-1095},
doi = {10.21125/iceri.2016.0652},
url = {http://dx.doi.org/10.21125/iceri.2016.0652},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Seville, Spain},
month = {14-16 November, 2016},
year = {2016},
pages = {7249-7258}}
TY - CONF
AU - M.M. Ashenafi AU - G. Riccardi AU - M. Ronchetti
TI - USING STUDENTS’ COLLABORATION TO IMPROVE ACTIVE PARTICIPATION TO UNIVERSITY COURSES WITH A LARGE NUMBER OF ATTENDEES
SN - 978-84-617-5895-1/2340-1095
DO - 10.21125/iceri.2016.0652
PY - 2016
Y1 - 14-16 November, 2016
CI - Seville, Spain
JO - 9th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
JA - ICERI2016 Proceedings
SP - 7249
EP - 7258
ER -
M.M. Ashenafi, G. Riccardi, M. Ronchetti (2016) USING STUDENTS’ COLLABORATION TO IMPROVE ACTIVE PARTICIPATION TO UNIVERSITY COURSES WITH A LARGE NUMBER OF ATTENDEES, ICERI2016 Proceedings, pp. 7249-7258.
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