The translation of Fractions Tutor from English into German is almost complete!
As well as translating the buttons and the exercises directly, the iTalk2Learn partners have given cultural adaptation a lot of attention in order to result in a truly effective German version.
What sort of problems have been discovered and overcome?
At first, Ruhr University Bochum (RUB) did not realise how severe the cultural differences in learning maths can be. After some testing, however, it became obvious that most of the German students in the tests had problems trying to solve the exercises that were simply translated.
To get a better understanding of these difficulties and to ensure that all bases were covered, iTalk2Learn partners from RUB took part in some maths lessons themselves, discussed the issues with teachers after the lessons, and did a lot of background reading! As a result, they were able to identify the problem: Fractions can be taught in dramatically different ways in different countries.
While Fractions Tutor has been successfully implemented and evaluated with English-speaking students, not all of the steps and functionalities of Fractions Tutor are equally helpful for German students.
For instance, German maths books generally do not explain every single sub-step as explicitly as Fractions Tutor does. Some sub-steps are completely skipped when teaching German students. Therefore, German students can easily get confused and lose confidence when they are asked to explain or do a certain sub-step, which they had never encountered before.
Furthermore, it is important to consider the fact that most German students are less familiar with ITS than English-speaking students. Therefore, during classroom trials, the familiarisation phase will need to be expanded before the learning phase can begin.
Where does that leave the iTalk2Learn classroom trials?
RUB are very relieved to have been able to locate the problem and find a suitable solution by implementing cultural-specific changes. Since these adaptations are almost complete, the consortium is very excited about the upcoming classroom trials.
RUB and Whizz Education (Whizz) have already visited a number of schools in preparation and they trials are not far off. Keep an eye out for updates on the school trials in upcoming blog posts!
A note from RUB about a visit from BBK project partner, Beate!
Since we are about to start our first classroom trials, we could do with some additional help and support. Therefore, we are really looking forward to a visit from Beate Grawemeyer, one of our project partners from London.
Beate is a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Computer Science and Information Systems at Birkbeck College (BBK). She will be a great help in preparation for the studies, as she has previously run a similar study in the UK.
If you would like to take part in the classroom trials in either Germany or the UK, get in touch with the iTalk2Learn partners today!