A MOBILE APPLICATION TO PROMOTE ATTENDANCE AND PARTICIPATION IN THE CLASSROOM
Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Conference name: 10th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 16-18 November, 2017
Location: Seville, Spain
Abstract:A mobile application is presented that encourages students to attend classes and promotes their active participation, as a means to combat absenteeism and to assist in the continuous evaluation of the learning process. In this paper we describe the design of the application and provide some preliminary results of its evaluation.
The working hypothesis of this educational tool is that increasing active class attendance improves the level of understanding of the subject, establishes a greater commitment of the student, and therefore, improves the learning outcomes and decreases the probability of drop-out. However, attendance control is seen by both teachers and students as an obtrusive and time-consuming process. Moreover, just attending classes may be useless if the students adopt a passive attitude, refuse to participate in the classroom activities, or are distracted talking to other students or using their mobile phones. It is important to make students attend classes because they feel they get some value out of this action, and not just because they are forced to do it.
Instead of banning mobile phones in the classroom and considering them as distractors, we intend to draw upon the fact that most, if not all, computer science students own smartphones, and promote their use in a positive way. In order to reach our goal, we have developed a mobile application supporting three basic processes:
1. Attendance registration: the application provides a simple and reliable way to let students indicate that they are attending a particular class. This is not only an unobtrusive attendance control mechanism, but also a facilitator for the communication and interaction of the teacher with the students in the classroom. The teacher obtains an instant record of the students who are attending the class, also displaying their current level of participation. This can be used by the teacher, for example, to request the participation of the less active students, or to select students randomly for specific in-class activities.
2. Promotion of student participation in the classroom: students can use the application either to request the floor or to send questions and doubts relative to the teacher’s explanations as they arise, in case they are not willing to speak aloud.
3. Give value to attendance and participation: in our experience, students tend to expect and also react positively to some kind of reward for the effort of attending the classes and also for their active participation, particularly those who are not able to appreciate the positive long-term impact on their own learning. When a student participates, the teacher can easily value if the contribution is positive. Attendance and participation logs can then be used in grading.
The application is being evaluated in several ways. First, usability tests are being conducted with both students and teachers. Second, a pilot project is programmed to be carried out during the fall semester of the 2017-2018 academic year, in the Human-Computer Interaction course of the Computer Engineering degree. Third, the potential acceptability of the tool by academics will be assessed, seeking to identify the main barriers and facilitators for its adoption.
Keywords: Promotion of attendance, active participation, mobile application, technology acceptance, technology in teaching and learning.