Evaluating novel pedagogy in higher education: a case study of e-proofs
2014-05-20T10:58:23Z (GMT) by
This thesis is a single case study of the introduction and evaluation of new resources and new technologies in higher education; in which e-Proof was chosen as a single case. E-proofs are a multimedia representation of proofs, were created by Alcock (2009), and aimed to help undergraduates to read proofs for better proof comprehension. My thesis aimed to investigate whether the impact of reading such technology-based resource, e-Proofs, on undergraduates proof comprehension was better compared to reading written textbook proofs and if so, then why (or why not). To evaluate the effectiveness of e-Proofs, I used both qualitative and quantitative methods. First I measured undergraduates satisfaction, which is a most common research practice in evaluation studies, by using self-reporting methods such as web-based survey and interviews. A web-based survey and focus-group interviews showed that undergraduates liked to have e-Proofs and they believed that e-Proofs had positive impact on their proof comprehension. However, their positive views on e-Proofs did not evidence the educational impact of e-Proofs. I conducted an interview with Alcock for better understanding of her intentions of creating e-Proof and her expectations from it. Next, I conducted the first experiment which compared the impact of reading an e-Proof with a written textbook proof on undergraduates proof comprehension. Their comprehension was measured with an open-ended comprehension test twice immediately after reading the proof and after two weeks. I found that the immediate impact of reading an e-Proof and a textbook proof were essentially the same, however the long term impact of reading an e-Proof was worse than reading a textbook proof (for both high and low achieving undergraduates). This leads to the second experiment in which I investigated how undergraduates read e-Proofs and textbook proofs. In the second experiment, participants eye-movements were recorded while read- ing proofs, to explore their reading comprehension processes. This eye-tracking experiment showed that undergraduates had a sense of understanding of how to read a proof without any additional help. Rather, additional help allowed them to take a back seat and to devote less cognitive effort than they would otherwise. Moreover, e-Proofs altered undergraduates reading behaviours in a way which can harm learning. In sum, this thesis contributes knowledge into the area of reading and compre- hending proofs at undergraduate level and presents a methodology for evaluation studies of new pedagogical tools.