Learning Analytics side of Blended Learning

Concurrent Session 2
Blended Equity and Inclusion

Brief Abstract

The purpose of this presentation is to summarize the process of redesigning an online course for a blended format. The course offers students the flexibility to learn at their own pace with the online resources available to them during the week, while getting discipline-specific (STEM) tests during the computer-facilitated tutorials. A data-driven approach is used to guide the choice of assessment questions based on click-level data gleaned from the course content.

Presenters

Burcu earned her B.Sc. in Mathematics at Bogazici University and MMath in Pure Mathematics at the University of Waterloo (UW). She is a lecturer in the Digital Assets Group (DAG) in the Faculty of Mathematics. Burcu taught many online courses (mainly, Calculus and Linear Algebra) for the University of Waterloo before joining the faculty. Prior to her role at UW, Burcu worked as a full-time instructor in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at the Florida Atlantic University(FAU). At FAU, Burcu created and taught many online courses. She has a special interest in learning te(a)chnologies. In her free time, she likes doing yoga, traveling, playing board games as a family, and doing arts and crafts with her daughter.

Extended Abstract

The purpose of this presentation is to summarize the process of redesigning an online course for a blended format. The Applied Linear Algebra Blended course offers students the flexibility to learn at their own pace with the online resources available to them during the week, while getting discipline-specific (STEM) tests during the computer-facilitated tutorials. A data-driven approach is used to guide the choice of assessment questions based on click-level data gleaned from the course content.

A fully asynchronous version of Applied Linear Algebra was created to meet the needs of students during the pandemic. We designed an interactive textbook for this course with the help of our Digital Assets Group. The course was redesigned after the pandemic to meet the further communication needs of students and address issues of academic integrity with online testing environments.

As part of our educational platform, we provide a variety of assets, including text, videos, slide shows, GeoGebra applets, and a wide variety of question types, such as multiple choice, math entry, algorithmic questions, and adaptive questions. The key to building an engaging and satisfying learning experience is to utilize each of these assets in an appropriate context [1,2,3]. We carefully selected the tools to convey bottleneck concepts with thoughtfulness and care. At the heart of our course design is iterative course design. We analyze click-level data from our teaching platform and combine it with recent pedagogical developments in the field to redesign the pieces that require a different approach.

Students are presented with content using multiple means of representation (e.g. text, narrated slideshows, interactive applets) in accordance with universal course design principles [4,5]. In addition to sustaining student engagement, these pieces also reinforce learning. Also, students are given a variety of ways to demonstrate their comprehension, including check-in questions, computer-graded assignments (both graded and for practice), and written assignments. As a result, a variety of learner profiles are taken into account and active learning experiences are incorporated into an inclusive course experience. The learning components all meet the standards for accessibility. Content is screen-reader-friendly, logically structured, and properly tagged and formatted for ease of navigation. Furthermore, all media (images, videos, animations) include alternative text or captions, as well as proper colour contrast.

A textbook contains eight units, each of which corresponds to a chapter. There are lessons within each unit, which correspond to chapter sections. In each lesson, students were guided through interactive pages that included text, images, videos, slideshows, in-line check-in questions (called "Your Turn" questions), embedded math and animation apps, and algorithmic questions.

Each student gets a customized learning experience with algorithmic questions and receives immediate feedback, and they have plenty of opportunities to put what they've learned into practice. This concurs with the Testing Effect, which asserts that answering a question about a newly introduced topic improves retention [6,7].

It is very crucial to vary the level of difficulty of exercises to make sure they are accessible to a wide range of learners. Adaptive questions were used for more challenging questions with multi-step solutions so that students could progress step by step and verify their solutions.

To facilitate active learning, GeoGebra applets were integrated into the lessons, along with inquiry-based learning strategies[8]. For each GeoGebra applet, detailed instructions guided students through multiple exploration activities that connected topics from the past and present. In addition, interactive narrated slide shows were used to enhance active learning. Students were encouraged to actively participate in these activities instead of passively consuming video content. Questions were embedded into the video, which students had to answer before continuing to watch. As a result, students were active learners rather than passive listeners.

Students are asked to go through the course material each week and learn the concepts at their own pace. Discussion forums are provided and monitored regularly to answer content-related questions. With the help of an interactive textbook, the instructors are able to spend more time interacting with students and having deeper conversations with them during virtual office hours and in-person weekly tutorials. Additionally, this helps create a learning environment that is inclusive and equitable for all students. Furthermore, instructors can identify bottleneck concepts and common misconceptions in the content by tracking student performance on interactive lessons and corresponding assessment pieces using the analytics from the interactive textbook.

To mitigate spaced learning effects [9] and counteract pre-exam cramming, the weekly course schedule ensures students repeat the same concept at least four times during the semester. In order to mitigate the test-taking effect, frequent testing is conducted during weekly in-person tutorials. A typical in-person tutorial consists of a mini-lesson addressing the muddiest points (15 minutes), practice for quizzes (15 minutes), and a quiz (20 minutes).

With the computerized testing environment, students receive the results of their frequent weekly tests (in the form of 20-minute quizzes or 50-minute mini-midterms) very quickly. A built-in linear algebra calculator is also included in the test questions so students don't get bogged down in lengthy calculations and can focus more on conceptual and procedural aspects. Data analytics from student's interactive textbook performance was used to inform the choice if questions in the weekly quizzes and mini-lessons.

Students reported finding the interactive learning and testing to be very organized, easy to follow, and effective in communicating the learning objectives. The instructors delivered content smoothly, efficiently and fluently, giving students time to master the skills required. In terms of time spent on the course, it was in line with the target level (5-10 hours per week). In addition to appreciating the flexibility of the course design, students recognized the intended retention effects as well.

In the session's conclusion, we will present our data analysis from our teaching platform, as well as the results of the student survey conducted at the end of the semester and mid-semester.

At the end of this session, participants will have a chance to

  • Interact with our interactive teaching platform.
  • Discuss the benefits of blended learning from students' and instructors' perspectives.
  • Discover how to blend pandemic resources with learning analytics to build blended courses.
  • Learn how to select the right pace for a blended course to maximize learning outcomes.
  • Learn how to select the right pace for a blended course to maximize retention.

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[7] Karpicke, Jeffrey. (2017). Retrieval-Based Learning: A Decade of Progress. 10.1016/B978-0-12-809324-5.21055-9. Pages (487–514).

[8] Sandra L. Laursen, Marja-Liisa Hassi, Marina Kogan, & Timothy J. Weston. (2014). Benefits for Women and Men of Inquiry-Based Learning in College                    Mathematics: A Multi-Institution Study. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 45(4), 406–418. https://doi.org/10.5951/jresematheduc.45.4.0406

[9] Yuan X. Evidence of the Spacing Effect and Influences on Perceptions of Learning and Science Curricula. Cureus. 2022 Jan 13;14(1):e21201. doi: 10.7759/cureus.21201. PMID: 35047318; PMCID: PMC8759977.