About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 4243-4249
Publication year: 2010
ISBN: 978-84-613-9386-2
ISSN: 2340-1117

Conference name: 2nd International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 5-7 July, 2010
Location: Barcelona, Spain

ON THE USE OF ATTITUDINAL ACTIVITIES IN ECTS EXPERIENCES TO FOSTER STUDENT ENGAGEMENT IN THE COURSE: A CASE STUDY IN PROGRAMMING SUBJECTS

C. Cotta

Universidad de Málaga (SPAIN)
Among the numerous criticisms that can be done to traditional teaching methodologies based on unidirectional lectures and a single final exam, one of the most salient ones is the difficulty of engaging the student into actively working on the subject at hand on a continuous basis. The use of additional grading activities during the semester can certainly help to this end. They do not constitute a panacea though, since mere performance tests are not necessarily motivating (and can actually discourage long-term involvement on the course if initial results do not fulfill the student’s expectations). In this sense, the upcoming generalized implementation of the European Higher Education Area is providing an excellent breeding ground for experimenting with other learning strategies oriented to foster active learning and student involvement.

We are conducting an ongoing experience within this context since 2007 in 2nd-year programming courses in the University of Malaga. In the approach used, attitudinal activities are used as a complement to performance-based tests. While the latter provide a rather objective means to measure the degree of accomplishment in the learning goals of the subject, the former are used to motivate the student into working on the course material during the whole semester. These activities include the public presentation of solutions to a list of problems specific to each course unit (this list actually includes those problems used as performance-tests in previous years), the preparation of short papers stating the resolution to certain problems (posed weekly or biweekly via an e-learning platform, and typically involving computer experimentation) whose theme is selected to appeal to the student, and a semester-long team-work (which in the last years has revolved around the edition of entries in the Spanish Wikipedia on the programming topics covered by the course syllabus). These activities contribute to the final grade, and are assessed on an involvement-basis rather than using performance-based criteria (a minimum quality standard must be obviously observed, but then again this base level corresponds to the minimal involvement expected from the student).

A statistical analysis of the academic results in the last two years is presented. This analysis indicates that students who complete attitudinal activities to a satisfactory degree mostly pass the course (with a global ratio of ~ 2.5:1), while the opposite is true among those students who do not complete these activities. Furthermore, the inclusion of these activities in the final grade does not result in a decrease of the objective performance-based level of students who pass the course. This strategy seems also to be well-suited to appeal to students who enrolled in the course for the second time, and to whom traditional methods were less motivating to keep working on the course on a continuous basis. In this sense, the results of this strategy indicate that the course-completion ratio is now statistically indistinguishable between first-timers and repeating students.
@InProceedings{COTTA2010ONT,
author = {Cotta, C.},
title = {ON THE USE OF ATTITUDINAL ACTIVITIES IN ECTS EXPERIENCES TO FOSTER STUDENT ENGAGEMENT IN THE COURSE: A CASE STUDY IN PROGRAMMING SUBJECTS},
series = {2nd International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies},
booktitle = {EDULEARN10 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-613-9386-2},
issn = {2340-1117},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Barcelona, Spain},
month = {5-7 July, 2010},
year = {2010},
pages = {4243-4249}}
TY - CONF
AU - C. Cotta
TI - ON THE USE OF ATTITUDINAL ACTIVITIES IN ECTS EXPERIENCES TO FOSTER STUDENT ENGAGEMENT IN THE COURSE: A CASE STUDY IN PROGRAMMING SUBJECTS
SN - 978-84-613-9386-2/2340-1117
PY - 2010
Y1 - 5-7 July, 2010
CI - Barcelona, Spain
JO - 2nd International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
JA - EDULEARN10 Proceedings
SP - 4243
EP - 4249
ER -
C. Cotta (2010) ON THE USE OF ATTITUDINAL ACTIVITIES IN ECTS EXPERIENCES TO FOSTER STUDENT ENGAGEMENT IN THE COURSE: A CASE STUDY IN PROGRAMMING SUBJECTS, EDULEARN10 Proceedings, pp. 4243-4249.
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