Enhancing Mathematics Learning Through Peer Assessment Using Mobile Tablet Based Solutions
Doctoral thesis, Peer reviewed
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Higher education is facing unprecedented challenges with an increasing demand for high quality education, driven by tougher global competition. Student numbers are fast growing at most universities, whereas the sources of funding are not proportionally increasing. Subsequently, the teaching staff’s workload gets higher and higher hence putting the quality standards at risk. As class sizes increase, it becomes more difficult to learn in a highly teacher-controlled environment, since the teacher cannot sufficiently address individual student’s needs. Therefore, a teacher should be conceptually seen as a facilitator for students, who provides them with guidance and opportunities to explore and make sense of their subjects of study. Sustainable quality education requires novel approaches to teaching and learning, to provide the best education with a minimum amount of resources. For instance, students should be encouraged to be more active in their learning rather than being passive receivers of the instruction. This study calls for a fundamental shift from instructionism (a teacher focussed educational practice) towards constructivism (a student focussed educational practice); keeping in mind that a combination of both practices may be needed in certain cases. In addition to adopting the appropriate educational praxis, innovations in educational technology can further enhance the learning experience. Mobile media tablets are gaining popularity with university students as technology matures. Besides communication and digital media consumption as their primary functions, the latest mobile media tablets can also be used for data production and processing in teaching and learning contexts. This work revisits the practice of peer assessment as a means of formative assessment. Based on user centred design principles, engineering students at the University of Agder (Norway) and Kigali Institute of Science and Technology (Rwanda) were involved in developing a media tablet technology supported peer assessment system. The students’ role in system development is reported as well as their active learning through peer assessment of mathematics assignments. Results of the experimental study generally showed improvements in the technical usability of the system throughout the development cycle. Analysis of the pedagogical usability criteria suggests that there are possible learning gains of using such a system. The findings indicate that peer feedback has a potential to improve students’ learning achievement and that media tablets hold a promising solution in learning mathematics and related subjects. Furthermore, the challenges of implementing effective peer assessment systems supported by new information and communication technology are discussed.
Doktorgradsavhandling i informasjons- og kommunikasjonsteknologi, Universitetet i Agder, Grimstad, 2013