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  1. It is a well-documented challenge to keep students engaged and motivated in out-of-class activities. More students now have part- or full-time jobs and less time to study. Supporting their academic growth and success requires acknowledging the higher commitments to the jobs while providing appropriate mechanisms to make the best use of their available times. This paper presents a mobile educational platform, Dysgu, that aims to engage students in out-of-class activities. An initial study completed on this platform investigates the role of peer influence to increase student engagement in an early college class. Data indicates students prefer Dysgu for out-of-class activities compared to traditional pen- and paper-based activities. Students noted that peer influence, in the form of scores compared to the rest of the class, was highly motivating. We also observed more on-time submissions when using Dysgu.
  2. Mobile devices are being used profusely in the classrooms to improve passive learning environments and to enhance student comprehension. However, with respect to students’ active involvement in problem solving activities, the typical usage of the mobile devices in answering multiple choice and true/false questions is not adequate and the use of mobile devices need to be expanded to include dynamic and interactive problem-solving activities to better satisfy students’ learning needs. To facilitate such interactive problem solving using mobile devices, a comprehensive software environment is necessary. This paper details the design, deployment and evaluation of Mobile Response System (MRS) software that facilitates execution and assessment of multi-step in-class interactive problem-solving activities using mobile devices. MRS is an active learning tool, which engages students with the visual representation of a problem that spans on multiple screens, allows them to interact with that, and makes them realize the consequences of their actions instantly and visually. The immediate and automated grading feature of MRS enables a feedback-driven and evidence-based teaching methodology, which is important to improve the quality of classroom learning. MRS is designed to be independent of any interactive problem or its domain. Therefore, it allows easier integration of interactive activity Apps developedmore »by others and can be used in any discipline. The results obtained from software metrics and runtime performance data verified the quality of the software. Additionally, the in-class assessment data verified that the MRS software is a helpful intervention for improving student comprehension and satisfaction.« less
  3. Classroom formative assessment augmented with timely and frequent feedback has become one of the most prominent teaching practices in education research. On the context of Computer Science (CS) courses that expose students to the functionality and dynamic aspects of various algorithms, traditionally, students are evaluated by exploring in-class paper-based exercises. In these exercises, they simulate the steps of an algorithm by drawing several instances of a diagram. This traditional approach is time consuming, is inherently difficult for students to express the dynamics of an algorithm, does not allow timely feedback, and restricts the number of exercises that students can practice and receive feedback on. Mobile Response System (MRS) is a software environment that facilitates in-class exercises and their real-time assessment using mobile devices and therefore focuses on addressing many of the above-mentioned problems. In this paper, we present results of eight semester-long studies using MRS in two of the required CS courses at Winston-Salem State University (WSSU). Our experimental evaluation shows the educational benefits of the proposed approach in terms of enhanced student retention of covered concepts, reduced failing rate, and increased student engagement and satisfaction.
  4. To improve student's class experience, the use of mobile devices has been steadily increasing. However, such use of mobile learning environments in the class is mostly static in nature through content delivery or multiple choice and true/false quiz taking. In CS courses, we need learning environments where students can interact with the problem in a hands-on-approach and instructor can assess their learning skills in real-time with problems having different degree of difficulty. To facilitate such interactive problem solving and real-time assessment using mobile devices, a comprehensive backend system is necessary. This paper presents one such system, named Mobile Response System (MRS) software, associated interactive problem-solving activities, and lessons learned by using it in the CS classrooms. MRS provides instructor with the opportunity of evidence-based teaching by allowing students to perform interactive exercises in their mobile devices with different learning outcomes and by getting an instant feedback on their performance and mental models. MRS is easy-to-use, extensible and can render interactive exercises developed by third-party developers. The student performance data shows its effectiveness in increasing student understanding of difficult concepts and the overall perception of using the software was very positive.