16 SES 02 A, Instructional Support with ICT Tools
Despite the great popularity and the expectations that on-line courses for university education have created, they suffer from many difficulties. Two of the most crucial worries of virtual university education are: the high levels of students’ dropouts and the low levels of students’ enrolments in these courses. These difficulties can be explained, in part, by the fact that students show low levels of self-regulation during learning (Zimmerman, 2002; Azevedo, 2005).
In order to solve this difficulty, a computer-based scaffolding system was designed to teach students how to self-regulate their learning. This software adapts flexibly to the characteristics of the learners and is meant to be used by university students during regular on-line courses, developed under platforms such as moodle.
The following characteristics describe the scaffolding system and its peculiarities:
- The scaffolding system takes into account individual differences by providing information about the students’ characteristics as learners. In order to do that, the software applies a number of on-line tests and questionnaires for the characterization of the student’s cognitive style (Witkins’s field dependence-independence dimension) (Witkin & Goodenough, 1981), his/her learning style (Felder and Soloman’s learning styles dimension) (Felder y Silverman, 1988), and his/her level of self-regulated learning (by means of Pintrich’ s MSLQ Questionnaire) (Pintrich, 1999). With this information the system issues a report, addressed to the student, in which he/she is informed about some features of his cognitive profile, focusing on actions that could be especially useful for his/her study sessions.
- The scaffolding system trains each student to plan his/her course in advance, so that he/she can approach the virtual academic course that he/she is taking with full awareness of what the course is going to imply for his/her life a student. This is done by means of a planning module. In this module, the student is guided through a series of questions so that he/she becomes cognizant of previous knowledge related to the topics of the course and determines the knowledge level he/she wants to achieve. This goal is established with three possibilities: superficial level, intermediate level, and advanced level.
- The software guides the student to choose and implement the learning strategies and resources necessary to achieve the goal that he/she has set. By asking very specific questions, each student plans his/her own settings, schedules and contextual peculiarities of his/her study sessions during the course. Certain circumstances such as whether to study alone or in a group, during the day or at night, or how much and how hard to study, etc.., are also taken into account.
- The scaffolding system accompanies each student through his/her study sessions until the end of the academic course that he/she is taking. It helps the student to self-monitor his/her own process of learning by displaying different types of metacognitive activators -flying screens with specific messages on how to approach the task at hand-. These messages are individualized, in accordance with the cognitive style of the student.
- Self-evaluations and formal evaluations along the academic course are very important for this digital scaffolding system. The results of these evaluations provide useful information to the student. This information should be the base for the student to adjust - if he/she decides to do that – the selected goal, the strategies and/or the resources to a more realistic (or more comfortable) learning setting.
- At the end of the course, the software provides a self-reflection module in which the results, resources, and strategies are examined so that the student build metacognitive information that should be useful for future learning experiences.
Azevedo, R. (2005). Computer environments as metacognitive tools for enhancing learning. Educational Psychologist, 40, 193-197. Felder, R. & Silverman, L. (1988). Learning and teaching styles in engineering education. Engineering Education, 78(7) 647-681 Pintrich, P. R. (1999). The role of motivation in promoting and sustaining self-regulated learning. international Journal of Educational Research, 31,459-470. Witkin & Goodenough, (1981). Cognitive Styles: Essence and Origins. International Universities Press. Zimmerman, B. J. (2002). Becoming a Self-Regulated Learner: an overview. Theory into Practice,41(2), 64 – 70.
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