THE IMPACT OF A TECHNOLOGY RICH LEARNING ENVIRONMENT PAIRED WITH ACTIVE LEARNING TECHNIQUES ON ENGINEERING EDUCATION
Rochester Institute of Technology (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2012 Proceedings
Publication year: 2012
Conference name: 6th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 5-7 March, 2012
Location: Valencia, Spain
Abstract:This paper reviews student engagement and learning over of a six year study period (>500 students) in a technology rich learning environment. The technology rich learning environment in this project consists of: tablet PCs for each student (1:1 environment), three projection screens, and collaborative digital inking software. This paper reviews the education problem being addressed, and the learning theory used as a lens to focus specific active learning pedagogical techniques to address the education problem. From this problem based, learning theory grounded approach the features desired in a technology rich learning environment were developed. We share the approach in this paper to allow others to implement technology rich learning environments with active learning pedagogical approaches to address specific education problems in their institution. The technology rich learning environment implemented and studied includes multiple hardware/software pieces to create a system level solution versus a single device or single app solution.
The Mechanical Engineering Technology program at Rochester Institute of Technology offers various lecture and laboratory classes each year, and experience has shown that most students perform well in these classes. However, some students struggle and receive low grades or withdraw in the early stages of their academic career when they first experience courses with high technical content. From the work of others this problem of low student success is typical in engineering programs, specifically in introductory engineering classes. To address the issue of poor student performance in introductory engineering classes, a study was initiated in 2005 on the use of various technology features in the learning environment. The objective of the study was to assess how a technology rich learning environment could help improve student engagement and learning in these historically challenging introductory engineering courses. In this environment, students can anonymously ask questions, submit to polls, and review the work of others in the class.
This paper reviews quantitative student pre and post technology attitude surveys, end of class learning environment surveys and qualitative analysis of end of class focus groups. Multiple faculty experiences in this environment are also shared along with classroom observations from cognitive scientists, education researchers, and instructional technologists. Student feedback from this study indicated that students have increased engagement and feel more comfortable expressing any lack of understanding anonymously, and therefore are more open in requesting additional guidance and instruction due to the features of the technology rich learning environment. This learning environment was also beneficial to the deaf and hard of hearing within the University.
Keywords: Technology, tablet, active learning, engineering, STEM education.