Commenced in January 2007
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Edition: International
Paper Count: 4

Search results for: Post-secondary

4 Study Habits and Level of Difficulty Encountered by Maltese Students Studying Biology Advanced Level Topics

Authors: Marthese Azzopardi, Liberato Camilleri

Abstract:

This research was performed to investigate the study habits and level of difficulty perceived by post-secondary students in Biology at Advanced-level topics after completing their first year of study. At the end of a two-year ‘sixth form’ course, Maltese students sit for the Matriculation and Secondary Education Certificate (MATSEC) Advanced-level biology exam as a requirement to pursue science-related studies at the University of Malta. The sample was composed of 23 students (16 taking Chemistry and seven taking some ‘Other’ subject at the Advanced Level). The cohort comprised seven males and 16 females. A questionnaire constructed by the authors, was answered anonymously during the last lecture at the end of the first year of study, in May 2016. The Chi square test revealed that gender plays no effect on the various study habits (c2 (6) = 5.873, p = 0.438). ‘Reading both notes and textbooks’ was the most common method adopted by males (71.4%), whereas ‘Writing notes on each topic’ was that mostly used by females (81.3%). The Mann-Whitney U test showed no significant difference in the study habits of students and the mean assessment mark obtained at the end of the first year course (p = 0.231). Statistical difference was found with the One-ANOVA test when comparing the mean assessment mark obtained at the end of the first year course when students are clustered by their Secondary Education Certificate (SEC) grade (p < 0.001). Those obtaining a SEC grade of 2 and 3 got the highest mean assessment of 68.33% and 66.9%, respectively [SEC grading is 1-7, where 1 is the highest]. The Friedman test was used to compare the mean difficulty rating scores provided for the difficulty of each topic. The mean difficulty rating score ranges from 1 to 4, where the larger the mean rating score, the higher the difficulty. When considering the whole group of students, nine topics out of 21 were perceived as significantly more difficult than the other topics. Protein synthesis, DNA Replication and Biomolecules were the most difficult, in that order. The Mann-Whitney U test revealed that the perceived level of difficulty in comprehending Biomolecules is significantly lower for students taking Chemistry compared to those not choosing the subject (p = 0.018). Protein Synthesis was claimed as the most difficult by Chemistry students and Biomolecules by those not studying Chemistry. DNA Replication was the second most difficult topic perceived by both groups. The Mann-Whitney U test was used to examine the effect of gender on the perceived level of difficulty in comprehending various topics. It was found that females have significantly more difficulty in comprehending Biomolecules than males (p=0.039). Protein synthesis was perceived as the most difficult topic by males (mean difficulty rating score = 3.14), while Biomolecules, DNA Replication and Protein synthesis were of equal difficulty for females (mean difficulty rating score = 3.00). Males and females perceived DNA Replication as equally difficult (mean difficulty rating score = 3.00). Discovering the students’ study habits and perceived level of difficulty of specific topics is vital for the lecturer to offer guidance that leads to higher academic achievement.

Keywords: Biology, Perceived difficulty, Post-secondary, Study habits.

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3 An Analysis of Gamification in the Post-Secondary Classroom

Authors: F. Saccucci

Abstract:

Gamification has now started to take root in the post-secondary classroom. Educators have learned much about gamification to date but there is still a great deal to learn. One definition of gamification is the ability to engage post-secondary students with games that are fun and correlate to class room curriculum. There is no shortage of literature illustrating the advantages of gamification in the class room. This study is an extension of similar thought as well as an extension of a previous study where in class testing proved with the used of paired T-test that gamification did significantly improve the students’ understanding of subject material. Gamification itself in the class room can range from high end computer simulated software to paper based games of which both have advantages and disadvantages. This analysis used a paper based game to highlight certain qualitative advantages of gamification. The paper based game in this analysis was inexpensive, required low preparation time for the faculty member and consumed approximately 20 minutes of class room time. Data for the study was collected through in class student feedback surveys and narrative from the faculty member moderating the game. Students were randomly selected into groups of four. Qualitative advantages identified in this analysis included: 1. Students had a chance to meet, connect and know other students. 2. Students enjoyed the gamification process given there was a sense of fun and competition. 3. The post assessment that followed the simulation game was not part of their grade calculation therefore it was an opportunity to participate in a low risk activity whereby students could subsequently self-assess their understanding of the subject material. 4. In the view of the student, content knowledge did increase after the gamification process. These qualitative advantages identified in this analysis contribute to the argument that there should be an attempt to use gamification in today’s post-secondary class room. The analysis also highlighted that eighty (80) percent of the respondents believe twenty minutes devoted to the gamification process was appropriate, however twenty (20) percentage of respondents believed that rather than scheduling a gamification process and its post quiz in the last week, a review for the final exam may have been more useful. An additional study to this hopes to determine if the scheduling of the gamification had any correlation to a percentage of the students not wanting to be engaged in the process. As well, the additional study hopes to determine at what incremental level of time invested in class room gamification produce no material incremental benefits to the student as well as determine if any correlation exist between respondents preferring not to have it at the end of the semester to students not believing the gamification process added to the increase of their curricular knowledge.

Keywords: Gamification, inexpensive, qualitative advantages, post-secondary.

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2 Development of Energy Benchmarks Using Mandatory Energy and Emissions Reporting Data: Ontario Post-Secondary Residences

Authors: C. Xavier Mendieta, J. J McArthur

Abstract:

Governments are playing an increasingly active role in reducing carbon emissions, and a key strategy has been the introduction of mandatory energy disclosure policies. These policies have resulted in a significant amount of publicly available data, providing researchers with a unique opportunity to develop location-specific energy and carbon emission benchmarks from this data set, which can then be used to develop building archetypes and used to inform urban energy models. This study presents the development of such a benchmark using the public reporting data. The data from Ontario’s Ministry of Energy for Post-Secondary Educational Institutions are being used to develop a series of building archetype dynamic building loads and energy benchmarks to fill a gap in the currently available building database. This paper presents the development of a benchmark for college and university residences within ASHRAE climate zone 6 areas in Ontario using the mandatory disclosure energy and greenhouse gas emissions data. The methodology presented includes data cleaning, statistical analysis, and benchmark development, and lessons learned from this investigation are presented and discussed to inform the development of future energy benchmarks from this larger data set. The key findings from this initial benchmarking study are: (1) the importance of careful data screening and outlier identification to develop a valid dataset; (2) the key features used to develop a model of the data are building age, size, and occupancy schedules and these can be used to estimate energy consumption; and (3) policy changes affecting the primary energy generation significantly affected greenhouse gas emissions, and consideration of these factors was critical to evaluate the validity of the reported data.

Keywords: Building archetypes, data analysis, energy benchmarks, GHG emissions.

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1 Assessing the Value of Virtual Worlds for Post- Secondary Instructors: A Survey of Innovators, Early Adopters and the Early Majority in Second Life

Authors: K. Westmoreland Bowers, Matthew W. Ragas, Jeffrey C. Neely

Abstract:

The purpose of this study was to assess the value of Second Life among post-secondary instructors with experience using Second Life as an educational tool. Using Everett Rogers-s diffusion of innovations theory, survey respondents (N = 162), were divided into three adopter categories: innovators, early adopters and the early majority. Respondents were from 15 countries and 25 academic disciplines, indicating the considerable potential this innovation has to be adopted across many different borders and in many areas of academe. Nearly 94% of respondents said they plan to use Second Life again as an educational tool. However, no significant differences were found in instructors- levels of satisfaction with Second Life as an educational tool or their perceived effect on student learning across adopter categories. On the other hand, instructors who conducted class fully in Second Life were significantly more satisfied than those who used Second Life as only a small supplement to a real-world class. Overall, personal interest factors, rather than interpersonal communication factors, most influenced respondents- decision to adopt Second Life as an educational tool. In light of these findings, theoretical implications are discussed and practical suggestions are provided.

Keywords: Second Life, Virtual Worlds, Educational Technology, Diffusion of Innovations

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