AN ARCHITECTURE FOR GROUPWORK MANAGEMENT BASED ON ADAPTIVE TESTING
IEIIT-CNR, Italian National Research Council (ITALY)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN10 Proceedings
Publication year: 2010
Conference name: 2nd International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 5-7 July, 2010
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Abstract:In this work an architecture is proposed for the selection and management of students who must take part to laboratory experiences or groupworks.
The considered scenario involves on site activities within a campus laboratory or other kinds of studying spaces as well as remote cooperation through e/m-learning communication facilities through heterogeneous devices.
The goal is to select participants whose profiles (including skills, learning levels and targets) can come alongside with profit, so as to optimize groupwork itself as well as personal achievements.
The core of the whole process is the use of adaptive testing for a dynamic and continuous assessment of both results and participants and for the consequent control of group activities or possible difficulties.
The generalities of such tool are described in the following and its role in the proposed architecture is detailed afterwards.
When adaptive testing is adopted, the difficulty of the next question/problem/etc. presented is tailored on the basis of the learner’s response(s). The underlying rationale is that this approach gives more adequate information about the current level of the examinee’s ability and learning and can feed into a dynamic process of adapting learning contents and materials. Including an adaptive testing component allows for creating a structure which follows the complete cycle of learning - providing the learning material, evaluating the level of comprehension and feeding back this information in order to adapt the subsequent learning material to the specific needs of the learner. In this context, the e-learning architecture adjusts to the outcome of the actual learning process and increases its effectiveness.
In the proposed approach, when adaptive testing is applied to a groupwork environment, its role is threefold: first, it is used for the very first selection of each group members; second, it is regularly used for testing the groups achievements; third, for controlling each participant’s learning level.
In this way, all the students should be better motivated to take constantly an active part in the common activity and they could also be better controlled.
The proposed architecture is composed by three levels: a communication layer, a middleware layer and a database layer.
As far as the communication layer is concerned, it acts as an interface between the user and the system: it acquires information and forwards it to the middleware layer after a format conversion, if required by the user’s device. Such layer is also in charge of returning workgroup and assessment contents.
As for the middleware, it contains the adaptive testing system and a decision module which rules access to assessment and learning contents in the database. Such module acquires and interprets the users’ profiles, finds matching situations and forms groups. Successively, it supervises the group activities.
Users are periodically submitted to assessment phases, both as a group and as single students, and always through the adaptive testing module. Further contents to be faced and group memberships are consequently evaluated. In more detail, on the basis of the testing phase results of the group, appropriate activities are proposed and, in case a student has not acquired suitable learning levels, he can be excluded from the group.
The database layer stores assessment and learning contents in an LDAP structure and learning paths in an SQL server.
Keywords: e/m-learning, groupwork, adaptive testing.