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Zekavat, P R Posada, J & Bernold, L E 2012, ‗Effectiveness of Interactive Teaching in Construction‘, Proceedings

of 37th AUBEA international conference, UNSW, Sydney, pp.40-47

Payam_R_Zekavat1*, John-Paul_Posada2 and Leonhard_E_Bernold3
1. PhD Candidate, School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of New South Wales, * Corresponding author
2. Educational Technician, Faculty of Engineering, University of New South Wales,
3. A/Professor, School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of New South Wales,

Modern-learning technologies offer a rich set of tools that could be used to supplement teaching methods
by making it easier to distribute information, interact on-line, and implement web-based quizzes or blogs.
This paper will present the results of a pilot study to teach ―Engineering Construction‖ to a 350 civil
engineering student class with the assistance of a mix of e-learning tools designed to promote active
learning. 150 students participated in a study to find out if and how the students‘ unique learning
preference correlates with various activities that required the students to become active or interactive. A
powerful tool fostering participative learning was the real-time polling of students during a lecture
applying the web-based Poll Everywhere system. A response could be sent as an SMS message or via the
internet using Wi-Fi. The paper will discuss how this technology was implemented and presents data
about how the different learning styles adopted it.
Keywords: e-Learning tools, Interactive teaching, Real-time polling, Learning style

The goal of learning technology (LT) is to enhance teaching and learning. Over the years, a large
set of tools has been developed to support different needs of teachers and students from
kindergarten to tertiary education. Because of the many options, in-class tests to assess the
strengths and weaknesses of available tools are recommended. The main issues to be considered
in such an evaluation are: a) Accessibility of the technology, b) applicable activity, and c)
educational impact. Of course, the ability to reach large student cohorts is a key attraction for
teachers who face large classes. On the other hand, large classrooms need to be fit out to
accommodate a selected technology allowing equal access to every student. An effective system

2008). Proceedings of 37th AUBEA international conference. Sydney. Even if the triplet of lecture. UNSW. ‗Effectiveness of Interactive Teaching in Construction‘. Integration LT Technology Figure 1 Model of a technology supported active learning environment Bernold (2007a) stressed the need to accepting learning as a process instead of product as the conventional lecture based teaching paradigm feeds passive learners information to be regurgitated. It is an essential skill of an engineer to model a problem in the real world in order to apply a theory that allows one to solve it. As Figure 1 indicates. The outcome of the approach are junior engineers who may know a formula or concept but don‘t understand how to use it. Research in Engineering Education has also made some significant contributions (Bernold 2007b. students and learning environment is ready for changing the obsolete knowledge transmission paradigm. pp.40-47 needs to integrate the teacher‘s pedagogical philosophy with the learning styles/skills of the students and the technology capabilities. J & Bernold. It presents a model of how the three components of an LT supported approach may be used to foster active learning . Moreover. The advent of internet accompanied by cellular phones revolutionized their communication manner. L E 2012. IT supported active . In the past three decades. 2004). One outcome was observed in the course described in this paper where many third year civil engineering students with a complete knowledge of ―Statics‖ and ―Construction Equipment‖ were not able to develop a critical lift plan for two cranes to dismantle an observation tower. it is impossible without installing an ad hoc carefully designed tool.a corner stone of constructivist teaching.Zekavat. P R Posada. This is how Figure 1 describes necessity of LT in fostering interactive teaching. learning theory and curriculum practices have made major advancements. today‘s students are different in way they process the information (Thielfoldt and Scheef.

Proceedings of 37th AUBEA international conference. Getting skilful in IT supported teaching requires training. The following sections of the paper will introduce the motivation for adopting active learning and discuss a case-study with relevant observations. It is widely known that much more is retained when a person is ―learning by doing‖ or even better. mentors and coaches instead of ad-hoc information dispensers. with an average 320 students. Bernold (2007c) between others urged changing the role of the teacher from one who is involved in ―knowledge transmission‖ to a coach who is a ―learning facilitator‖. At the same time. One of the key goals of state-of-the-art LT technology is to underpin this concept by offering every student to be engaged while receiving immediate feedback about the level of understanding. Bernold et al. Socratic method would be extremely effective. The constructivist Socratic teaching method offers a proven approach to involve the students but the change from lecture based teaching is not automatic. Sydney.Zekavat. Educational scholars across a range of disciplines agree that students can only establish higher levels of thinking when actively engaged in the educational process. P R Posada. This study has tried to adopt it as an approach to foster interactive learning. Bloom‘s taxonomy reminds us that remembering is the lowest level of thinking and understanding. was selected to pilot an online audience response system Poll Everywhere because of its versatility. J & Bernold. ―Engineering Construction‖. L E 2012. speed and the . Fostering Concept of Active Learning Passive students listening to a lecture only remember about 5% of what they hear. ‗Effectiveness of Interactive Teaching in Construction‘. Palmer (2005) considered the second paradigm akin to a constructivist mode where new knowledge is created actively and added to existing of knowledge. This is one of the first courses for engineering students face real world problems which they have to model and solve using basic physics. if it was used for correct purpose. In 2011. pp.40-47 learning may require that both teachers and students gain some new skills. this course. ―learning by teaching‖. Prados (1997) emphasized on this by calling new kind of teachers. Active In-Class Learning with LT Civil engineering and civil-with-architecture students at in University of New South Wales (UNSW) are required to take CVEN2101. UNSW. (2007) also showed that today‘s engineering students generally lack key learning skills for self-guided learning including time management and effective reading.

Sydney. (McCCarthy. Because a large number of students chose to convenience of SMS. Instead. L E 2012. Understanding the Students Everybody has a unique set of learning preferences that are related to the brains information processing network.via any device that could connect to WiFi including Smartphone. UNSW. everybody learns by asking four basic questions: . it was necessary to leave the quiz open. One online validated survey to identity the students personal style is hosted by About Learning. ‗Effectiveness of Interactive Teaching in Construction‘. speeding up the process. pp. According to this theory. This meant the instructor had to adapt his practice of closing the quiz and ―asking‖ for the results after displaying it for a few minutes. J & Bernold.Zekavat. First. the shear amount of inrushing messages created a queue in the network resulting in time delays. P R Posada. 2000) which is based on Kolb‘s 4 quadrant model of learning preferences. With this in place students could vote via SMS without the need to login to the system. allowing time for the queued up responses to reach the Poll Everywhere website. This is why we chose to promote the use of SMS for participation. laptops and tablets The system allows an educational client to configure quizzes with gradable questions. Meaning each multiple-choice question had a correct response that could be displayed once the results were entered.40-47 company‘s commitment to education. but not display it. Inc. This feature allows the entire class and the instructor to view how well a particular topic was being understood.via phones  Web voting . Early on it was found that SMS has limitations as well. Students were able to answer by:  SMS . students were asked to create a free account with Poll Everywhere linking them to this course and identify a responding student. This system allowed the widest possibility of ways students could respond. Proceedings of 37th AUBEA international conference. After about 40 minutes the results could be displayed to the class allowing time for analyses and discussion. Unfortunately the WiFi system in the classroom for CVEN2101 was not able to handle the 300 simultaneous connections needed for these live in-class online quizzes. As mentioned earlier classrooms need to accommodate technology to support its use in class. Students registered their phone numbers that associated them with their account.

Proceedings of 37th AUBEA international conference. one of the 4 questions is preferred more or less strongly compared to the other styles. signing the consent form.Zekavat. 100% of the LTM-1 type student answered with a YES while only 85% of Type 2. LTM Type 3 = 38%.Why?. 32 and 10 responses were analysed repeatedly. is the low 80% LTM-4‘s which might be due to the large class-room setting where they feel disconnected from what is happening preferring to stop and ponder the question: What-if we change this to that? Table 1 Self-assessed level of engagement by different LTM types – totally 8. In order to identify the students learning styles which might relate to active learning traits. a strong majority agreed that IT-based teaching approach was interactive. 27. The distribution of the learning types in the class was: LTM Type 1 = 17%.What If? Yes No N/A 80% 10% 10% Figure 2 presents the results for different cohort of students. Sydney. . Learning Type I am engaged in the learning? LTM 1 . L E 2012. This outcome is not surprising as the book as well as the in-class presentations start with the basic question: Why should we worry about knowing this material. a student‘s LTM was correlated with other personal responses such as the one shown in Table 1. LTM Type 2 = 31%. however. c) Type 3 .What? Yes No N/A 85% 11% 4% LTM 3 . As shown.How?. and d) Type 4 . A possible explanation for this is the substantial reading assignments which were much harder to work through for them.What-If?. pp.Why? Yes No N/A 100% 0 0 LTM 2 . and were given a password to the About Learning website that identified their personal Learning Type Measure (LTM). However.What?. Approximately 150 students volunteered. or Why is this method designed that way? What is surprising. Overall. b) Type 2 . Here.40-47 a) Type 1 .How? Yes No N/A 81% 13% 6% LTM 4 . ‗Effectiveness of Interactive Teaching in Construction‘. Based on an individual‘s personality traits. the students with English as their 1st language feel most engaged while those with English as the 2nd language are the lowest. students in CVEN2101 were invited to participate in a study. LTM Type 4 = 14%. As shown the. J & Bernold. Subsequently. UNSW. P R Posada. some lucky students are able to employ all four methods equally strong making them very adaptable to different teaching methods. the mid-semester responses to the question if the students felt engaged in active learning was arranged according to their LTMs.

Sydney. The small difference between highest and lowest rate indicates that the applied method did . the quizzes at the beginning of class were made open-book. and Type 1 with 14. Since the questions were non-trivial. only the best 16 answers were used for the final mark. a total of 24 in-class quizzes were administered. L E 2012. followed by Type 3 with 15.7. ‗Effectiveness of Interactive Teaching in Construction‘. this process fits the constructivist learning concept extremely well while some students complained in writing that the teacher was not teaching and. Performance Analysis and Correlations Figure 3 compares the participation of the LTM types with their performances. students commonly sat in small teams that argued the answer after studying the textbook. In order to allow for sickness or other unexpected problem. UNSW.4 quizzes. in average. pp. Of course.Zekavat. The tally at the end of the semester showed that. LTM-2 students had the highest participation rate with average of 15. The quizzes focused on the assigned reading and the material that was just covered in class. they did not learn anything during that time. Type 4 with 14. Students observed to be engaged in finding the answer reading a print-out and an electronic version of the book. Proceedings of 37th AUBEA international conference. P R Posada. J & Bernold. It was quickly recognized that the majority of students were not able or chose not to read the assigned chapter in the book before coming to class. For this reason. thus.0.40-47 Figure 2 Percentage of student cohorts feeling engaged in active learning In-Class Quizzes During the semester.

Proceedings of 37th AUBEA international conference. While comparing to others. As an example. As expected the average participation rate in all categories is higher than median. students are professional in some skills and are poor in so many others.40-47 motivate students from all learning types to be engaged albeit some only grudgingly.5. Indeed this is what referred to as difference in learning styles. learning type 3 which has the second higher participation rate. Sydney. This tendency indicates that instead of being passive. . and Type 1 with 10. ‗Effectiveness of Interactive Teaching in Construction‘. type 1 students did the best in homework. P R Posada.Zekavat. the theory oriented ―What?‖ students end up with an average 12. J & Bernold. includes students with only 4 answered quizzes.6 was the lowest.8 second highest. Type 4 in the third place with 11. UNSW.3 correct answers. Figure 3 Learning styles. LTM Type 3 ranked with 11. Combining several teaching methods like what implemented in the case study helps to respond to various learning needs of all types of students. L E 2012. however it seems that Type 1 students are more used to homework than the others. In general a direct correlation exists between quiz participation and homework marks. 2). Depending to their specific learning style. pp. On the other hand. Participation and correct answers Figure 4 shows that the highest homework results belong to this group. they showed some weakness in quizzes. students prefer to involve themselves as much as they can. The dominant LTM Type 3 student cohort (37%) shows the widest variance between the highest and lowest scoring student (19 vs.

‗Effectiveness of Interactive Teaching in Construction‘. final exam marks were studied in three different quiz performance tiers: 1) low performance with less than eight correct answers. UNSW. Actually when a student tries to improve his/her quiz performance. L E 2012. 2) moderate performance with 8 to 16 correct answers. Sydney. pp. probability of answering higher proportion of quizzes correctly will increase.Zekavat. and 3) high performance with more than 16 correct answers.40-47 Figure 4 Homework grade with respect to quiz performance Highlighted in Figure 5. regardless of his/her learning style. Of course. Proceedings of 37th AUBEA international conference. J & Bernold. P R Posada. the amount of I Figure 5 Final exam grades with respect to quiz performance .

It means that regardless of their learning style. interact on-line. It means that each learning style responds differently to a teaching approach. The dominant trend reveals that final exam mark increases when the number of correct answers increases. IT can be implemented to let instructor to interact more effectively during lecture time. Again the first and second places belong to Type 2 and 3 where Type 1 has the worst examination experience. UNSW. The base data was generated when each volunteering student filled out an online validated questionnaire that defined the students learning preferences according to Kolb‘s 4 quadrants. For this purpose.6 and 49. students with moderate and high quiz performance behave in the same manner.7. indirectly students interact more effectively during lecture time. P R Posada.3 for each learning approach. This paper presented the results of a pilot study to teach a 350 student class with the assistance of a mix of e-learning tools designed to promote active learning. 150 students participated in a study to find out if and how the students‘ unique learning preference correlates with various activities that required the students to become active or interactive. Results clearly magnified specific skills in different learning styles. J & Bernold. L E 2012. pp.learning technologies offer a rich set of tools that could be used to supplement these teaching methods by making it easier to distribute information.Zekavat.9. 49. Point ―I‖ distinguished in Figure 5 is interesting because it represents some sort of smart students that with a low attendance rate. average final exam mark is 43. Quiz was a motivation to increase students‘ study time and by this way. and implement web-based quizzes or blogs. Quizzes were designed in a way to cover all four groups and this outcome approves successful implementation of active learning paradigm. have got considerably high mark in final exam. REFERENCES . Overly students agreed that interactive teaching engaged them more efficiently. Modern. so a carefully designed teaching approach is required to effectively engage all students. 51. Summary Teaching large classes has traditionally relied on lecturing in theatre style spaces with students writing down what is written on the black-board. Proceedings of 37th AUBEA international conference. distinguished clusters with respect to learning types are visible among students with low quiz performance.40-47 enhancement is dependent to the learning style. It should be mentioned that in total. Interestingly. ‗Effectiveness of Interactive Teaching in Construction‘. Sydney.

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