Date of Award

2006

Level of Access

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Teaching

Advisor

John E. Donovan II

Second Committee Member

Robert Franzosa

Third Committee Member

John R. Thompson

Abstract

During the spring 2005 semester at The University of Maine, an interactive student response system was implemented in a traditional college algebra (MAT 111) lecture classroom. This thesis studies the effects of this implementation. First, to determine if the use of an interactive student response system increases academic achievement in college algebra, a common exam was administered to five sections of MAT 111 after the 41 week of instruction. Four sections comprised the control group and one section the treatment group. Prior to the exam, the control group received traditional lectures, while the treatment group received instruction that included use of an interactive student response system. Statistical analysis of the exam scores revealed that the treatment groups' mean scores were not statistically significantly higher than the control groups' mean scores. However, a time constraint, which limited the interactive system's use, as well as variations between MAT 111 sections may have affected the results of this study. Second, to determine students' attitudes toward the interactive student response system (Qwizdom), a preliminary questionnaire, an attitude survey, and a post-study continuation survey were administered to the treatment group. Although there were technical problems with the system, the students' attitudes were positive otherwise. Overall, students generally liked using Qwizdom and felt that they had benefited from its use. The surveys revealed that students perceived that the use of Qwizdom provided problem-solving practice, increased their understanding and was a good learning tool, increased attentiveness, and made math more interesting and fun. Furthermore, the system's anonymity encouraged participation in class. However, the attitude survey also revealed that the use of the interactive system had no affect on class attendance. Third, to determine the instructor's attitude toward the interactive student response system, my thoughts were recorded in a daily journal throughout this study. In particular, I feel that Qwizdom's Interactive Learning System is a well-designed, user- friendly, and versatile wireless response system. Although we experienced some technical problems with the system, these problems have been, or can be, resolved with further programming and system upgrades. In general, I enjoyed using the interactive system because the students enjoyed using it and it provided an interactive component that previous classes I had taught were lacking. When not using the system, the students in this study did not ask many questions and generally appeared uninterested in the lecture material. When using the system, however, the students were engaged and appeared to be having fun - a positive atmosphere I believe most instructors would prefer. Unfortunately, due to the fast pace, set schedule, and predefined curriculum of MAT 111 at The University of Maine, I do not believe that this traditional course is an ideal setting for an interactive student response system, however. To conclude, I review the results of the study regarding academic achievement, students' attitudes, and instructor's attitude to conjecture if the interactive student response system is an effective tool for instruction in a traditional college algebra lecture environment. I also explore ideas and questions for future research studies.

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