The iTalk2Learn project is benefiting from the expertise that Ruhr University Bochum (RUB) has in educational psychology and experimental research methods. RUB is responsible for developing a theoretical intervention model, as well as planning and organising formative and summative evaluation of the iTalk2Learn project.
In this blog post, you will find out more about RUB’s role and their resultant methodology within the project.
RUB’s first (and primary) goal in the iTalk2Learn project is to develop a theoretical intervention model, which specifies how students can gain robust knowledge in the area of study (fractions, in the case of this project).
Theory behind the model
The concept of ‘robust knowledge’ implies that students’ knowledge lasts over time and is transferable to other learning situations and is thus an important learning goal. Robust knowledge consists of two distinct types of knowledge:
- Conceptual knowledge
- Procedural knowledge
While procedural knowledge is acquired through repeated practice and deepening of problem-solving procedures, conceptual knowledge can be facilitated by providing students with exploratory learning activities and encouraging sense-making activities and reflection.
In order to facilitate robust knowledge, students should thus be provided with both structured practice activities and exploratory learning activities. In this context, the intervention model aims to shed light on two central questions:
- Which type of activity should students start with?
- How should we sequence the different types of learning activities?
In the iTalk2Learn Project, the intervention model will serve as a basis to define diagnostic indicators (including speech indicators) that can be used to adaptively sequence the activities that students are asked to engage in, thus tailoring the learning opportunities within the system to students’ changing needs.
How is the theoretical intervention model developed?
RUB applies methodologies from the field of Educational Design Research for these formative evaluation trials. These methodologies involve several design cycles and early collaboration with the end-users (Cobb, Confrey, diSessa, Lehrer, & Schauble, 2003). Within these design cycles, RUB refers to a multi-methodological approach including, for instance, ‘Wizard-of-Oz’ studies, knowledge tests, and student and teacher interviews.
RUB’s role in formative and summative evaluations
RUB is also responsible for planning and organising formative and summative evaluation of the project. RUB has developed a detailed formative and a summative evaluation plan, and is currently working closely with the other partners to plan and conduct the formative evaluation trials. As an academic partner with a background in psychological research methods, RUB will adopt a major role in conducting the summative evaluation studies, which are aimed at testing the main innovations of the iTalk2Learn project.
Due to strong interdependencies between each of the trials that are conducted by different project partners, RUB’s role in this process is also to coordinate the various ongoing trials in order to avoid scheduling conflicts and delays in the overall project schedule. Concerning the summative evaluation studies, RUB discussed the main hypotheses with all iTalk2Learn partners and decided on the methodology and the conditions to be implemented. These decisions will guide the work in the third year of the project.
The summative evaluation studies that RUB plans to conduct towards the end of the project will build upon the formative evaluation trials. In order to test the effects of the main innovations of the iTalk2Learn project, RUB will conduct two experimental studies varying specific independent factors in a controlled pre-post-design.