The Reading Brain in the Digital Age: The Science of Paper versus Screens

This article looked at the differences between learning by reading text on a piece of paper versus on a screen. Before 1992, there were a lot of studies that concluded that people read slower, less accurately and less comprehensively on screens than on paper. However, now many studies have found few significant differences in reading speed and comprehension.

Such studies show that screens drain more of our mental resources and make it harder to remember what we read when we are finished reading. Therefore, we comprehend less when we read on screens since it’s just more physically and mentally taxing.Paper allows reader to focus on a single page of paper without losing sight of the text, which makes it easy to form a coherent mental map of text that is not doable when reading on a screen. The limitation of navigating a text while reading on screen can impair comprehension. In Norway, a study of 72 10th students, who were given a 1500 word text to read on paper and computer, and later took a reading comprehension test showed that computer users performed a little worse than student who read on paper.

Students who read pdf files on the computer have been shown to have a more difficult time to reference text, and such reading on paper is better suited to absorb text as screens can interfere with user’s sense of control. Additionally, studies have shown that those who really wish to go into a reading, will read it on paper as oppose to on screen because it helps them understand the text with more clarity.

Furthermore, the students’ approach to reading on computers is a state of  mind that is much less conducive to learning. Kate Garland did a study where she made half her students study economics material from a computer and the other from a booklet. After 20 minutes of reading, the students from both groups scored equally well. Reading on different mediums also distinguish between remembering and knowing something. Remembering is a waker form of memory that is more likely to fade unless it is converted to long-term memory. Garlands’ students who read off a computer relied more on remembering than on knowing. The students who read on paper learned the material more thoroughly and quickly.

Other studies show that people who read off a computer screen scored lower on the tests and also reported higher levels of stress and tiredness than people who completed it on paper. While they scored relatively equal on the tests, they did not do as well on the attention and working memory part of the test. Those students who read off a paper scored higher, because researchers concluded that they had a more studious state of mind, and therefor effectively directed their attention and working memory. Further, people who read on screens take a lot of shortcuts, spend more time of browsing and scanning, as oppose to people who just read a paper once.

Nonetheless, in recent surveys, it shows that most people prefer paper, but their attitudes are changing as tablets and e-books are becoming more common, so more studies must be done.


Student Assessment: Measuring Progress Toward Your Goals

Click to access IPD_Ch2_2011.pdf

This article is a guideline for creating assessments and gives examples of good and bad questions to include when creating assessments. There are three types of assessments: diagnostic, formative, and summative. Additionally there are two types of assessment questions: objective and non-objective. Objective questions are those which are not generally open to interpretation. True/false, fill-in, matching/sequencing, multiple choice are examples of objective questions; short answer and essays are examples of non-objective questions.

A valid assessment must allow student to show their actual understanding of the content. Some suggestions to consider when creating questions include:

-Make sure that items don’t give away the answers
-Focus on the item that you’re testing
-Ensure that the incorrect answer choices are not too extreme in that someone who lacks knowledge would think that they are plausible
-Distractors are used to see whether students truly understand the objective or not, and ensures that they did not just guess or eliminate the obvious incorrect choices
-Avoid asking questions in the negative
-Be conscious of potential bias in questions
-Ensure that answers are definitely true or definitely false

Introducing computer science to K-12 through a summer computing workshop for teachers

This paper described a one-week summer computer workshop that is very similar to what we are working on for the Alice project. Again, the researchers noticed that the demand for CS and math will grow more and more, but at the same time there is a bigger decline of interest among students. Therefore, the goal of the workshop was to provide K-12 students with a better education in the field of CS by teaching teachers and educating them on ways to improve CS education.

Scratch and Alice were used for this workshop, and in the end teachers created curriculum materials to use in their classrooms. Previous related work include lecturing and curriculum development on CS education, using Python to emphasize the connections between natural science and math, and efforts to increase the number of students in AP CS. In this research paper, they discussed how their work built upon the successful strategies for teacher workshop from related work. One concern they had was much of the previous work was done with high school CS teachers, but this one was targeted for K-12 students to expose students at an early age.

The workshop provided each teacher with a flash drive that had all the workshop materials, which were created by two undergraduate students. There were sessions on Scratch, gathering user input, Boolean expressions, loops, variables and arrays. Additionally there was a session dedicated to curriculum development so that teacher could take back materials for to their classroom. Most of the participants were teachers from around the area – a district with large population of minority and economically disadvantaged students.

The teachers highly praised the amount of support they received and thought that it was well organized and easy to understand. However, many found Alice to be user unfriendly in comparison with Scratch, and wished that they could work more on Scratch. The workshop was assessed by an outside program evaluator, and the average pretest score was 19/50, and the average posttest score was 42/50, a 121% increase in confidence level.

Diversifying High School Students’ Views About Computing with Electronic Textiles

Sherry Turkle and Seymour Papert once published a paper describing the lack of diversity in approaches to teaching to computing. Further, they worked to promote epistemological pluralism. This standpoint is a discipline that has the views and attitudes about the discipline as well as the conceptualization of nature of knowledge. Thus, in this paper, the researchers worked on observing and expanding students’ views and expectations and attitudes towards cS through designing electronic textiles.

In previous research, people have found that students valued concrete approaches more than abstract. They describe CS as boring, tedious and often not a create field. In this study, researchers worked with 27 high schoolers (many who had spent a semester learning Alice), and worked on expanding their views on computing and broadening their participation in CS through a 10-week e-textiles workshop.

This e-textiles approach introduced computing as designing and programming artifacts. e-textiles combined engineering and computing, often seen as masculine concepts, and crafting, often seen as feminine. Additionally, there was a tangible dimension that made students ultimately see computing as accessible, transparent, and creative.

The main focus of this student was to address relationships between activities used to teach CS and students’ perception of computation, as well as engaging students in a variety of approaches to expand on their knowledge base. They also conducted pre- and post-interviews: the pre-interviews involved questions about willingness to participate and post-interviews included questions about experience with computing, career aspiration, and what they learned.

In the pre-interviews, many students’ understanding of CS was very narrow and limited. Their words were very vague and also has difficulty connecting their programming activities to career-related work. In the post-interviews, there was a much wider range of perspective of computing hands-on. e-textiles highlighted positionally and the students’ appreciated some creativity. Some of the students’ responses included how the project widened possibility of what CS can do, and how it used code to tell a story. Many were excited to share their final project.s

However, the positive result could also be due to the environment of the classroom and the flexibility to create whatever for the project.

Predicting Student Success using Fine Grain Clicker Data

This paper describes a 12-week study at a large university, in which they examined students’ clicker questions performance affects the outcome at the end of a term for an Introduction to Computer Science class in Python. Currently, the first CS course has very extreme grades – high failure and drop rates, and therefore, in most cases, the first exposure student have to CS is most often their last.

Students were given clicker questions in which they answered individually, with their peers, and then as a class, a teaching method known as peer instruction. Additionally, they were given isomorphic questions that were answered after each question individually. For students who were absent, the credit was given for students by dividing the number questions correct by the total number of questions answered.

The study concluded that the first few weeks of a CS course has a strong influence on a students’ end of course performance. Such students who cannot the explain coding, could not code later on the final exam. Those who performed in the top quartile throughout the semester did better on the final exam. Further, these questions best predict the outcome of multiple choice questions, code writing, and the final exam. The isomorphic questions ended up being the top predictors of student outcomes.

day 48 – thursday

Today is my last day of work – I enjoyed this opportunity a lot and had a great time working with the teachers this summer.

Yesterday, I ended up staying in the office until about 8 pm, working on the teacher feedback. Today, I came in and finished up all the evaluations and sent them to the teachers. It was a lot of fun working on improving their worlds, but also took a lot of time and effort.

Professor Rodger took us out to lunch, which was super nice of her!

I also started working on drafting a proposal for my independent study. Hopefully, I’ll get approved as a CSURF and continue working on this project during the school year.

day 47 – wednesday

Today was very productive – second to last day of work this summer!

I finished editing all the teacher worlds and uploaded them to the lesson plans page. Now I am working on writing feedback for each teacher, telling them how we changed their world and additionally feedback, plus encourage them to continue working with Alice in their classrooms.

Further, I uploaded my photosynthesis world to the Example worlds page and added my collisions tutorial to the Tutorials page under Intermediate worlds. There was a lot of PHP to learn and figuring out the format of how the website works.

I also start downloading the teacher feedbacks that we received from the teachers on their peer’s lesson plans.

We had a talk with Professor Rodger about what we are up to, and final things to do before the summer ends.

I should be able to finish everything by tomorrow.

day 46 – tuesday

I finished uploading my portion of the teacher lesson plans onto the website. There were some formatting errors that I had to clear up and I checked all the links that I added to the page. All three of us have finished the first pass of the teacher worlds.

Samantha, Yossra, and I discussed how we wanted to assess the teachers. We decided on creating an Excel sheet in Google Drive and recording how many times the teachers used them in each world, as well as the number of times that they used it efficiently. Tomorrow, we will go over our idea with Professor Rodger and continue from there.

I started editing the teacher’s worlds. For each teacher, we are picking a world and making changes to it and provide feedback. The goal is to have this done before the end of the week.

day 45 – monday

This week will be my last week of work! However, I am going to continue my research with Professor Rodger in the fall as a part of the CSURF program. I will need to apply to the program and then write up a proposal for my independent study, which will last me for the upcoming school year. At the end, I will need to present a poster and write a thesis paper.

I think I want to focus more on how we can integrate CS into middle school education and change how we assess the worlds that we collect. Currently, we are just noting the different features that the teachers included but we need more assessments to see how students are learning the material. This will require a lot of work on the teachers to get their students to take the assessments but we have a year to plan it. I also want to do more workshops during the school year to expose more students to Alice and programming.

Today, I looked through the teachers’ worlds and noted the features that they included and did not include. I then started writing the PHP to put their lesson plans on the website and will just copy and paste. I’m almost done with this part. As I’m going through the worlds, I’m also editing some of them, and saving new files of their worlds so that we can send them to the teachers later.

I also went through Yossra’s Transformation tutorial. We are going to have to put up our worlds by the end of the week and also finish up the videos that we started during the summer.

day 44 – saturday

Since I’ll be leaving a day early next week (last week of working!), I’m making up my hours today. Today is the first day after our workshops finished.

We are looking over the teachers’ worlds these next few days and uploading them to our website and also putting our worlds and tutorials up there. Some of the teachers’ codes are very complicated but others are very impressive. We are going through the worlds, noticing what the teachers included (or did not) and later we will look more extensively and give feedback.