Using Technology in a Studio Approach to Learning: Results of a Five Year Study of an Innovative Mobile Teaching Tool

Using Technology in a Studio Approach to Learning: Results of a Five Year Study of an Innovative Mobile Teaching Tool

Dianna L. Newman (University at Albany/SUNY, USA), Gary Clure (University at Albany/SUNY, USA), Meghan Morris Deyoe (University at Albany/SUNY, USA) and Kenneth A. Connor (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-2985-1.ch007
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Abstract

Presented in this chapter are findings related to the use of the Mobile Studio concept in STEM classes including how the use of an innovative technology that replaced traditional equipment in STEM classes was able to increase student learning. Findings also show that the Mobile Studio Learning Platform supports variations in instructional style and goals as well as learning across different content areas and type of implementation. Use of the Mobile Studio was piloted and implemented in multiple undergraduate engineering courses; the pedagogy expanded beyond this original setting to include use in K-14 sites as well as pre-service and in-service training for science teachers. Data from multiple sources are presented in support of the finding that diverse learners with various instructional needs and user characteristics are positively served by the use of student-centered mobile technology within the domain of STEM education.
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Background

Constructivist-based and constructionist-based instruction, both supportive of discovery learning, have been shown to be effective ways of helping students to obtain and retain new concepts and skills (Clinton & Rieber, 2010; Piaget & Inhelder, 1955; Vygotsky, 1978). These forms of instruction allow the learner to explore and tryout new concepts in relation to what they already understand, using trial and error to develop or strengthen understanding. Constructivist theory indicates that inquiry learning, rooted in guided teaching, enables learners to understand complex material through their own experiences (Powell & Kalina, 2009). Inquiry learning can be taught through active experimentation and real world experience; both have been noted as beneficial for knowledge building, and are the main tenets of constructionism (Kafai & Resnick, 1996). Romiszowski (2009) explained the specific benefits for active knowledge building in terms of retention, “Retention of a complex task … and mastery of new skills, is based on the execution of authentic and learner-relevant tasks, learned through exploratory practice followed by expository review” (p. 218). Research has shown that technology can play an active role in assisting instructors in providing constructivist and constructionist instruction and guided learning (Akhras & Self, 2000; Cheng, 2006; Newman & Gullie, 2009). Through the use of Web-based tools as well as local technology, students’ learning can be scaffolded to meet both individual and group needs and can be tied to hands-on, real life experiences, data sets, and simulated outcomes (Newman, Reinhard, & Clure, 2007). Rodd and Newman (2009) have reported positive outcomes related to the use of technology in STEM education; students who had access to technology supported, technology guided, and technology reinforced learning had more positive attitudes toward learning the content, greater retention of direct content, and greater transfer to other areas.

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