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Increasing Instructor-Student Classroom Interaction
and Student Learning in Large Classes

The goal of this project, called Classroom Learning Partner (CLP), is to increase instructor-student interaction and student learning by developing software to support the use of in-class exercises. This teaching methodology is similar to that employed by wireless polling systems, but CLP does not limit instructors to using only close-ended questions such as multiple-choice, matching, or true-false, which only assess recognition rather than engaging students in higher-order tasks.

CLP extends the existing Tablet-PC-based wireless presentation system, Classroom Presenter, to support the submission and aggregation of student solutions to in-class exercises. Lecturing with the system, instructors annotate their slides with digital ink displayed simultaneously on a large screen and on student Tablet PCs. When slides containing exercises are presented, students work through them and anonymously submit their work wirelessly. The system software then uses artificial intelligence techniques to automatically interpret and aggregate the student responses, enabling instructors to view a summary of in-class student work in real time. With such information, instructors can address student misunderstandings and adjust their lessons dynamically.

In addition to developing interpretation and aggregation software, this project has completed four studies in MIT's introductory computer science course, 6.001. Each study has evaluated the hypothesis that the use of Tablet-PC-based classroom systems such as Classroom Presenter and Classroom Learning Partner increases student learning by:

  1. Increasing student focus and attentiveness in class,
  2. Providing immediate feedback to both students and instructor about student misunderstandings,
  3. Enabling the instructor to adjust course material in real time based upon student answers to in-class exercises, and
  4. Increasing student satisfaction.
Results indicate that this hypothesis holds true, and that use of such systems and the Tablet PC may be directly responsible for an increase in performance of students taking the MIT introductory computer science. Particularly striking is the increase in performance of those students who might otherwise have done poorly.

Current work on the project continues with the addition of new in-class exercise types, including sketched answers, and associated interpretation and aggregation routines. We will be conducting another learning study in MIT's introductory chemistry course, 5.111, Spring 2008 term.


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