Content-based VLE designs improve learning efficiency in constructivist statistics education

Wessa, Patrick, De Rycker, Antoon and Holliday, Ian E. (2011). Content-based VLE designs improve learning efficiency in constructivist statistics education. PLoS ONE, 6 (10),

Abstract

Background: We introduced a series of computer-supported workshops in our undergraduate statistics courses, in the hope that it would help students to gain a deeper understanding of statistical concepts. This raised questions about the appropriate design of the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) in which such an approach had to be implemented. Therefore, we investigated two competing software design models for VLEs. In the first system, all learning features were a function of the classical VLE. The second system was designed from the perspective that learning features should be a function of the course's core content (statistical analyses), which required us to develop a specific-purpose Statistical Learning Environment (SLE) based on Reproducible Computing and newly developed Peer Review (PR) technology. Objectives: The main research question is whether the second VLE design improved learning efficiency as compared to the standard type of VLE design that is commonly used in education. As a secondary objective we provide empirical evidence about the usefulness of PR as a constructivist learning activity which supports non-rote learning. Finally, this paper illustrates that it is possible to introduce a constructivist learning approach in large student populations, based on adequately designed educational technology, without subsuming educational content to technological convenience. Methods: Both VLE systems were tested within a two-year quasi-experiment based on a Reliable Nonequivalent Group Design. This approach allowed us to draw valid conclusions about the treatment effect of the changed VLE design, even though the systems were implemented in successive years. The methodological aspects about the experiment's internal validity are explained extensively. Results: The effect of the design change is shown to have substantially increased the efficiency of constructivist, computer-assisted learning activities for all cohorts of the student population under investigation. The findings demonstrate that a content-based design outperforms the traditional VLE-based design.

Publication DOI: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0025363
Divisions: Life & Health Sciences > Psychology
Life & Health Sciences > Clinical and Systems Neuroscience
Life & Health Sciences > Aston Brain Centre
Life & Health Sciences
Life & Health Sciences > Centre for Vision and Hearing Research
Additional Information: © 2011 Wessa et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Full Text Link: http://www.plos ... al.pone.0025363
Related URLs: http://www.scop ... tnerID=8YFLogxK (Scopus URL)
Published Date: 2011-02-21
Authors: Wessa, Patrick
De Rycker, Antoon
Holliday, Ian E.

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