Sør-Trøndelag University College (HiST) (NORWAY)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN15 Proceedings
Publication year: 2015
Pages: 4614-4622
ISBN: 978-84-606-8243-1
ISSN: 2340-1117
Conference name: 7th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 6-8 July, 2015
Location: Barcelona, Spain
This article suggests that the application of PeLe (Peer Learning Assessment System) software, a variant of student response technology, provides efficient assessment, a constructive feedback process, a motivating learning environment and increased post-assessment learning for the students. An emphasis is placed on the value of immediate feedback, tailored to the class by a careful monitoring of student contributions through the software’s instructor interface. Further, this immediacy requires a rethinking of the instructor’s role and methods, including increased didactical flexibility and methodological shrewdness.

The results and experiences presented were arrived at through the MobiLL pilot project lead by HiST Sør-Trøndelag University College in Norway, whose HiST Mobile software allows for individual student responses from handheld devices and an appropriately progressive methodology to promote learning. The project studied the effects of applying the PeLe software to language assessment and training in a group of 47 test students aged 16 to 40, with a similar control group of 48. Building on the positive experiences with the software’s application in science education [Talmo, Einum 2012], this pilot project aimed at identifying similar effects in language learning.

The results showed that on average, test students improved more than control students. Test students, when stratified into groups based on competence, seemed to show a somewhat higher improvement than their respective control counterparts the lower their initial competences were. This seems to indicate that frequent testing is beneficial for lower level students and that the methodology, including immediate feedback, has a further beneficial effect. However, parametric and non-parametric testing proved that no statistical inferences can confidently be made until the statistical sample is increased, and the results therefore have to be seen as indicative pilot project results, prompting further research.

Assessing the student’s language skills is only half the process. The instant feedback on the students’ competences the instructor gets through the software allows him not just to give immediate response, but to do so in a pedagogical way. By providing guidelines for post-processing, where the students can discuss and give a re-vote, collaboratively define key concepts or otherwise engage with their test result, the instructor lets students consolidate or re-evaluate their tested knowledge. During this process, instructors in the test groups observed an increased activity from students on all levels practicing language skills such as speaking, listening, conversation, writing and reading. There is reason to believe that the commitment of the test, the immediacy of the post-test processing and the aspect of remedying their mistakes prompts students of all levels to practice and increase their language skills, and these observations formed the background for the subsequent SkiLL project [Einum 2015].

Furthermore, a questionnaire at the end of the project showed that the use of a student response assessment tool such as PeLe yielded positive results for the learning process. Two thirds of the students replied that PeLe had a large or very large effect on their participation and motivation in the subject while similar numbers emphasised the importance of immediate feedback from the instructor and a post-processing phase with a possible re-vote for the students. These findings indicate that while the project did not conclusively prove higher improvement in grammar, culture and literature knowledge in the test group, the student response tool appear to have increased participation, motivation and possibly skills learning across the learning levels.
language assessment, language training, BYOD, student response tools