Universitat Politecnica de Valencia (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2011 Proceedings
Publication year: 2011
Pages: 2797-2804
ISBN: 978-84-615-3324-4
ISSN: 2340-1095
Conference name: 4th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 14-16 November, 2011
Location: Madrid, Spain
One of the most common teacher complaints is that their students do not reflect on their own errors and they repeat the same mistakes over and over again. Moreover, it is a fact that students of the same level use to make the same errors and they usually have problems understanding the same concepts. That’s why some experienced teachers use their experience in previous years to expose common errors in class. This technique prevents students to fail at these points. But, how a novice teacher can know with which concepts are their students going to have more difficulties? How any teacher can be sure before the evaluation that their current students have the same problems than their previous students? Student error analysis is a powerful tool both for teachers and students. Teachers can detect error patterns and whether a concept has been misunderstood. It is a powerful tool for students because it promotes the reflection and the meaningful learning.

In this paper, we propose a simple method for student error analysis. This method also promotes the collaborative learning by means of sharing students’ errors and their solutions. Following this method, students obtain feedback from teachers and vice versa. This method comprises the following steps: (1) Every student creates a table where they collect their errors, a brief explanation about how they have solved these problems and how many times they have made the same error. In this way, students are forced to reflect on what have been their errors and on how they can correct them. Besides, they create a repository that will later serve as support material. (2) Once a week, students send a copy of this log to the teachers. So, teachers get a feedback from the students that allow them to detect the most common errors and misunderstandings. If there are a large number of students, they can revise only an arbitrary selection of the logs because the main objective is to detect error patterns, not to do a full revision of each student case. (3) At the beginning of the next session, they can provide feedback to the students and revise the explanation of the concepts related to these errors. (4) At the end of the course, teachers will have achieved a repository with the most common issues in that subject. This repository might be useful to revise the planning of the subject and the way in which some concepts are presented to the students.

This method has been applied in several groups of undergraduate level in a subject in which the main topic was the programming language C. The results have been very satisfactory. The average mark of the students that follow the innovation was considerably higher than the average mark of other groups of the same level. Besides, the number of students that left the subject was significantly lower. Moreover, students reflect in their Student Experience of Education Questionnaires their satisfaction with the teaching methodology. Students emphasized that the fact of obtaining regular feedback increased their motivation for the course.
This method can be easily applied to any other education level and subject.
Meaningful learning, Feedback, Innovation experiences, Student Error Analysis.