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HOME->Tablet PC Initiative->Impact on Student Learning

 

Impact on Student Learning

The goal of this project is to begin the movement towards a full integration of active learning with tablet PCs into our Electrical Engineering program.The objectives are:
1) provide environment for all students to interact effectively with subject, instructor, and each other;
2) involve students in the design of learning activities;
3) assess learning process at all stages through instruments designed by Penn State's Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence;  use to make appropriate formative and summative modifications;
4) provide in-class computational resources and simulation tools to reduce gap between theory and application;
5) encourage and increase collaborative learning;
6) evaluate academic progress of students by comparing semesters.

Students were surveyed at the beginning, middle, and end of the semester. The following reflects the results of those surveys.

Previous use of/preference for tablet PCs (2008-09): At the start of the spring 2009 semester 30% of students had never previously used a tablet PC, and the preference for technology in the classroom was the blackboard. The preference for tablet PC use in the classroom increased from 30% at the beginning of the semester to 50% at the end of the semester. Student comments on the technology preference included:
    • “I feel as if I am more involved when the instructor uses the tablet but the blackboard is a close second.”
    • “Tablets let the instructor see what you are doing at that point in class so the student can get help immediately. Overheads just make us tired.”
    • “Power point is least flexible and also least suited to answering student questions the inverse is true for tablets.”

Previous use of/preference for tablet PCs (2007): At the start of the Fall 2007 semester only one student had previously used a tablet PC, and the preference for technology in the classroom was the blackboard. The preference for tablet PC use in the classroom increased from 15.2% at the beginning of the semester to 75% at the end of the semester. Student comments on the technology preference included:

    • “The tablet PCs allow for a better comprehension of the material. Figures and diagrams can be easily moved to examples that they are relevant to. There is less rummaging around in notes that has to be done.”
    • “The tablet PC allows the professor to access our PCs and answer our questions more in depth so we can gain a better understanding.”
    • “It was much easier to follow and take notes with the tablet PC.”
    • “The tablet PC has different colors which are helpful in distinguishing different objects.”

Preference for interactive teaching (2008-09): Throughout the semester, a great majority of the students thought that interactive teaching can and should be incorporated into engineering classes. One student commented,

    • “This is when I learn and retain knowledge the best. “
    • “Interactive teaching gets people involved, which is what I think helps students learn the material better.”
    •  “Engineering as all about owning the knowledge if you can’t explain that knowledge you don't know it.”
    • “I think all classes should be interactive but using tablet pc's is not the only way to accomplish that.”
      Preference for interactive teaching (2007): Throughout the semester, a great majority of the students thought that interactive teaching can and should be incorporated into engineering classes. One student commented,
    • “It helps me learn concepts better when we can volunteer our answers and/or interact with the rest of the class.” Another student shared,
    • “It helps solve problems by seeing how others approach the problem.”

Effect on students’ attention (2008-09): Students thought that they paid a little more attention to the lecture/lab materials when the instructors used the tablet PC. Student comments included:

    • “I think interaction in class is crucial for effective learning, since you really have to pay attention, even if you maybe don't want to. This is the key to bring yourself forward in my opinion. And although it seems to be the harder way, it actually the easiest way to learn. I made only good experiences with interactive teaching.”
    • “Sometimes I paid less attention and sometimes more. I knew I could always download the notes later. I could spend time listening to the lecture, but sometimes that cause me to tune out.”

Effect on students’ attention (2007): Students thought that they paid a little more attention to the lecture/lab materials when the instructors used the tablet PC.  Student comments included:
    • “I paid more attention because the instructor could project my PC onto the screen at any time to answer a question” and
    • “I paid more attention because instead of waiting for him to finish while he was in front of the board, I could follow while he did it.”

Effect on students’ understanding (2008-09): Overall, students thought the instructors’ use of the tablet PC made the lecture/lab materials a little easier to understand. One student commented,

    • “The visual aids and easily referenced lecture notes made the course easier.”
    • “Complicated graphs are better presented in an overhand format since drawing them on the blackboard simply doesn't display the nuances of the material.”
Effect on students’ understanding (2007): Overall, students thought the instructors’ use of the tablet PC made the lecture/lab materials a little easier to understand. One student commented,

    • “When the teacher is projecting his tablet PC screen and I am writing on mine, I can focus all my attention on the content of the material instead of trying to figure out how to convert the material on the board into the best format for a notebook.”

Effect of instructor activities on students’ learning (in order of effectiveness; 2008-09):

    • Drawing attention to points by writing on the tablet PC and projecting it: 81% of the students have found it Slightly-to-very effective
    • Using different colors and highlighting while presenting a lesson: 91% of the students have found it Slightly to-very effective
    • Giving answers to student questions by writing on the tablet PC and projecting it: 81% of the students have found it Slightly-to-very effective
    • Drawing a diagram, picture, chart, or other non-textual information on the tablet PC and projecting it: 81% of the students have found it Slightly-to-very effective
    • Posting copies of in-class presentations on ANGEL (PSU’s course management system): 54% of the students have found it Slightly-to-very effective
    • Switching between multiple files/applications while presenting to class: 36% of the students have found it Slightly-to-very effective

Effect of instructor activities on students’ learning (in order of effectiveness; 2007):

    • Drawing attention to points by writing on the tablet PC and projecting it: 90% of the students have found it Slightly-to-very effective
    • Using different colors and highlighting while presenting a lesson: 90% of the students have found it Slightly-to-very effective
    • Giving answers to student questions by writing on the tablet PC and projecting it: 88% of the students have found it Slightly-to-very effective
    • Drawing a diagram, picture, chart, or other non-textual information on the tablet PC and projecting it: 88% of the students have found it Slightly-to-very effective
    • Posting copies of in-class presentations on ANGEL (PSU’s course management system): 63% of the students have found it Slightly-to-very effective
    • Switching between multiple files/applications while presenting to class: 51% of the students have found it Slightly-to-very effective




School of Science, Engineering, and Technology
Programs in Electrical Engineering and Electrical Engineering Technology
Penn State Harrisburg
W-256 Olmsted Building
777 West Harrisburg Pike
Middletown, PA 17057

Telephone: (717) 948-6093
Facsimile: (717) 948-6352


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