skip to main content

Title: Leveraging mathematics software data to understand student learning and motivation during the COVID-19 pandemic
School closures during the COVID-19 pandemic presented a threat to student learning and motivation. Suspension of achievement testing created a barrier to understanding the extent of this threat. Leveraging data from a mathematics learning software as a substitute assessment, we found that students had lower engagement with the software during the pandemic, but students who did engage had increased performance. Students also experienced changes in motivation: lowered mathematics expectancy, but also lower emotional cost for mathematics. Results illustrate the potential and pitfalls of using educational technology data in lieu of traditional assessments and draw attention to access and motivation during at-home schooling.
Authors:
; ; ;
Award ID(s):
2000868
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10273121
Journal Name:
Journal of Research on Technology in Education
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
1 to 38
ISSN:
1539-1523
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Background/Context:

    Computer programming is rarely accessible to K–12 students, especially for those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. Middle school age is a transitioning time when adolescents are more likely to make long-term decisions regarding their academic choices and interests. Having access to productive and positive knowledge and experiences in computer programming can grant them opportunities to realize their abilities and potential in this field.

    Purpose/Focus of Study:

    This study focuses on the exploration of the kind of relationship that bilingual Latinx students developed with themselves and computer programming and mathematics (CPM) practices through their participation in a CPM after-school program, first as students and then as cofacilitators teaching CPM practices to other middle school peers.

    Setting:

    An after-school program, Advancing Out-of-School Learning in Mathematics and Engineering (AOLME), was held at two middle schools located in rural and urban areas in the Southwest. It was designed to support an inclusive cultural environment that nurtured students’ opportunities to learn CPM practices through the inclusion of languages (Spanish and English), tasks, and participants congruent to students in the program. Students learned how to represent, design, and program digital images and videos using a sequence of 2D arrays of hexadecimal numbers with Python on a Raspberrymore »Pi computer. The six bilingual cofacilitators attended Levels 1 and 2 as students and were offered the opportunity to participate as cofacilitators in the next implementation of Level 1.

    Research Design:

    This longitudinal case study focused on analyzing the experiences and shifts (if any) of students who participated as cofacilitators in AOLME. Their narratives were analyzed collectively, and our analysis describes the experiences of the cofacilitators as a single case study (with embedded units) of what it means to be a bilingual cofacilitator in AOLME. Data included individual exit interviews of the six cofacilitators and their focus groups (30–45 minutes each), an adapted 20-item CPM attitude 5-point Likert scale, and self-report from each of them. Results from attitude scales revealed cofacilitators’ greater initial and posterior connections to CPM practices. The self-reports on CPM included two number lines (0–10) for before and after AOLME for students to self-assess their liking and knowledge of CPM. The numbers were used as interview prompts to converse with students about experiences. The interview data were analyzed qualitatively and coded through a contrast-comparative process regarding students’ description of themselves, their experiences in the program, and their perception of and relationship toward CPM practices.

    Findings:

    Findings indicated that students had continued/increased motivation and confidence in CPM as they engaged in a journey as cofacilitators, described through two thematic categories: (a) shifting views by personally connecting to CPM, and (b) affirming CPM practices through teaching. The shift in connecting to CPM practices evolved as students argued that they found a new way of learning mathematics, in that they used mathematics as a tool to create videos and images that they programmed by using Python while making sense of the process bilingually (Spanish and English). This mathematics was viewed by students as high level, which in turned helped students gain self-confidence in CPM practices. Additionally, students affirmed their knowledge and confidence in CPM practices by teaching them to others, a process in which they had to mediate beyond the understanding of CPM practices. They came up with new ways of explaining CPM practices bilingually to their peers. In this new role, cofacilitators considered the topic and language, and promoted a communal support among the peers they worked with.

    Conclusions/Recommendations:

    Bilingual middle school students can not only program, but also teach bilingually and embrace new roles with nurturing support. Schools can promote new student roles, which can yield new goals and identities. There is a great need to redesign the school mathematics curriculum as a discipline that teenagers can use and connect with by creating and finding things they care about. In this way, school mathematics can support a closer “fit” with students’ identification with the world of mathematics. Cofacilitators learned more about CPM practices by teaching them, extending beyond what was given to them, and constructing new goals that were in line with a sophisticated knowledge and shifts in the practice. Assigned responsibility in a new role can strengthen students’ self-image, agency, and ways of relating to mathematics.

    « less
  2. The COVID-19 pandemic forced the move from a traditional face-to-face classroom to a remote learning model. The success of the remote learning model is contingent upon several factors including appropriate learning materials. Instructors who were entrenched in the face-to-face teaching method had to make rapid adjustments to deliver learning materials and to engage students remotely. In contrast, instructors who had been using techniques to prepare students virtually before class time meeting were better positioned to pivot to the remote learning approach. The techniques and the materials developed by faculty from mathematics and aerospace engineering at an HBCU for effectively engaging students which include virtual pre class preparation were adapted for the remote learning method during this pandemic. These techniques and materials were made available to faculty to assist their move from face-to-face to remote learning. The approach is shared in this paper. Math and aerospace engineering students’ satisfaction with the approach was measured and the results are also included in this paper.
  3. In March 2020, the global COVID-19 pandemic forced universities across the United States to immediately stop face-to-face activities and transition to virtual instruction. While this transition was not easy for anyone, the shift to online learning was especially difficult for STEM courses, particularly engineering, which has a strong practical/laboratory component. Additionally, underrepresented students (URMs) in engineering experienced a range of difficulties during this transition. The purpose of this paper is to highlight underrepresented engineering students’ experiences as a result of COVID-19. In particular, we aim to highlight stories shared by participants who indicated a desire to share their experience with their instructor. In order to better understand these experiences, research participants were asked to share a story, using the novel data collection platform SenseMaker, based on the following prompt: Imagine you are chatting with a friend or family member about the evolving COVID-19 crisis. Tell them about something you have experienced recently as an engineering student. Conducting a SenseMaker study involves four iterative steps: 1) Initiation is the process of designing signifiers, testing, and deploying the instrument; 2) Story Collection is the process of collecting data through narratives; 3) Sense-making is the process of exploring and analyzing patterns of themore »collection of narratives; and 4) Response is the process of amplifying positive stories and dampening negative stories to nudge the system to an adjacent possible (Van der Merwe et al. 2019). Unlike traditional surveys or other qualitative data collection methods, SenseMaker encourages participants to think more critically about the stories they share by inviting them to make sense of their story using a series of triads and dyads. After completing their narrative, participants were asked a series of triadic, dyadic, and sentiment-based multiple-choice questions (MCQ) relevant to their story. For one MCQ, in particular, participants were required to answer was “If you could do so without fear of judgment or retaliation, who would you share this story with?” and were given the following options: 1) Family 2) Instructor 3) Peers 4) Prefer not to answer 5) Other. A third of the participants indicated that they would share their story with their instructor. Therefore, we further explored this particular question. Additionally, this paper aims to highlight this subset of students whose primary motivation for their actions were based on Necessity. High-level qualitative findings from the data show that students valued Grit and Perseverance, recent experiences influenced their Sense of Purpose, and their decisions were majorly made based on Intuition. Chi-squared tests showed that there were not any significant differences between race and the desire to share with their instructor, however, there were significant differences when factoring in gender suggesting that gender has a large impact on the complexity of navigating school during this time. Lastly, ~50% of participants reported feeling negative or extremely negative about their experiences, ~30% reported feeling neutral, and ~20% reported feeling positive or extremely positive about their experiences. In the study, a total of 500 micro-narratives from underrepresented engineering students were collected from June – July 2020. Undergraduate and graduate students were recruited for participation through the researchers’ personal networks, social media, and through organizations like NSBE. Participants had the option to indicate who is able to read their stories 1) Everyone 2) Researchers Only, or 3) No one. This work presents qualitative stories of those who granted permission for everyone to read.« less
  4. During the Spring 2020 semester, universities shifted into emergency remote teaching due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Globally, the pandemic disrupted students learning, their support structures, and interactions with other individuals both socially and academically. In addition, it created lasting impacts on professionals in determining strategies and altering objectives to help undergraduate engineering students achieve their learning objectives. Previous research on social support during the pandemic has focused primarily on singular cultural context, this study was conducted to understand the impact of the pandemic on students support in different cultural contexts. The purpose of this research was to explore how students experienced social capital structures at two institutions: one in the United Kingdom (U.K.) and one in the United States (U.S.) during the period of emergency remote teaching. The survey was designed around social capital theory, it provided demographic information, students agreement with their educational and social interactions, and names of individuals as well as resources they utilized during the pandemic.Results revealed similarities and differences between the two groups. Both case studies had the same top three alters: friends/roommate, professor, and family members, and reported almost the same frequency in communication with their alters. Participants in both case studies also hadhighmore »rates of support in both expressive and instrumental categories from their top two alters. Examiningthe differences, the UK case had a lower mean response for both sense of belonging and satisfaction at the university. Finally, there was a difference in the types of alters identified in each case due to different cultural contexts.« less
  5. Summer of code programs connect students to open source software (OSS) projects, typically during the summer break from school. Analyzing consolidated summer of code programs can reveal how college students, who these programs usually target, can be motivated to participate in OSS, and what onboarding strategies OSS communities adopt to receive these students. In this paper, we study the well-established Google Summer of Code (GSoC) and devise an integrated engagement theory grounded in multiple data sources to explain motivation and onboarding in this context. Our analysis shows that OSS communities employ several strategies for planning and executing student participation, socially integrating the students, and rewarding student’s contributions and achievements. Students are motivated by a blend of rewards, which are moderated by external factors. We presented these rewards and the motivation theory to students who had never participated in a summer of code program and collected their shift in motivation after learning about the theory. New students can benefit from the former students' experiences detailed in our results, and OSS stakeholders can leverage both the insight into students’ motivations for joining such programs as well as the onboarding strategies we identify to devise actions to attract and retain newcomers.