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CLeaR Fellows 2015 – Anna Yang

Leveraging mobile devices for science learning

Anna YangAnna joined the Department of Physics in 2012 as a professional teaching fellow. She manages the first-year Physics laboratory, coordinates teaching assistance activities for the whole department and teaches Foundation Physics. She is currently directing the development of ‘Lablets’: learning modules that harness mobile technologies to integrate data acquisition, analysis and lab exercises into a coherent suite of open-source Android applications, with aims to promote student engagement and collaborative learning ( Her other interests include feedback and analysis systems for complex organisations as well as narrative architectures in laboratory-based learning.

Anna aims to maximise opportunities for student engagement and enhance student achievement by developing sophisticated mobile device-based interfaces to assist in student learning, student evaluation collection and feedback analysis. Her plans are (1) to develop an efficient mobile feedback and analysis system for large-scale classes and (2) to continue the development of mobile apps for science learning.

Plan 1: Develop an efficient, scalable mobile feedback-and-analysis system to promote student engagement and improve student achievement.

Due to the overall class size in first-year Physics laboratory (about 2000 students) and current resource constraints, it is presently not feasible to gather and analyse student surveys in a timely manner to adjust laboratory operation for student needs. This issue is also known to occur in large-format lecture courses.

Anna will adapt Quick Click, a mobile device-based classroom response system, developed by two University of Auckland students (with support from Computer Science and Engineering Science), to facilitate feedback acquisition for large-format courses and laboratories. Students will be able to deliver feedback directly from their own devices, which will allow evaluations and reflections to be collected in real-time. The rapid feedback acquisition will enable course and laboratory content to be flexibly adjusted to better accommodate student needs. Open-ended comments will be posted on discussion boards (in the future learning management system) directly or after administrator’s approval, and the general evaluation outcomes will be presented as visual analytics anonymously (similar to the We Feel Fine project). Lastly, the large-scale feedback will allow us to systematically enhance the professional development of teaching assistants with training support from CLeaR.

Plan 2: Continue the current Learning Enhancement Grant project “Harnessing Consumer Electronics for Science Learning” and invite community involvement.

Mobile phones and tablets are equipped with built-in sensors and powerful processors, and present unprecedented opportunities for science learning. These compact tools enable us to perform innovative experiments to address common conceptual difficulties in Physics, optimise the student-instructor contact time for more in-depth discussions and promote student engagement. Since the project started in December 2013, Anna and her colleagues have completed their first mobile app for conducting motion analysis experiments and they have begun developing a script editor for educators. The first app was trialed in two large first-year courses in Semester One, 2014 with positive student feedback.

Anna aims to share the open-source project, collaborate with educators to assess the effectiveness on student learning and expand the suite of mobile apps.