If You Can’t Beat‘em, Join‘em: Incorporating Electronic Devices into Teaching Ocean Resources

Grant program: Teaching and Learning Development Grant (TLDG)

Grant recipient: Karen Kohfeld, School of Resource and Environmental Managment

Project team: Maija Gailis and Evie Morin, research assistants

Timeframe: July 2017 to April 2018

Funding: $6000

Course addressed: REM 370 – Ocean Resources

Final report: View Karen Kohfeld's final report (PDF)

Description: The purpose of this TLDG is to develop effective ways of incorporating the use electronic devices into the classroom learning process that promotes thinking rather than search-and-regurgitation. This work represents a follow-up from previous work conducted in the REM 370 Ocean Resources course during Fall 2015, when I investigated the impact of laptops, tablets, and cellphones in classroom learning (View Karen Kohfeld’s previous TLDG project >>). Electronic device use will be introduced via two “interventions” in classroom learning: (1) Incorporating the use of technological devices to support in-class discussion and comprehension of assigned articles, and (2) weekly electronic quizzes introduced in class, to assess student comprehension.

Questions addressed:

  • Do students believe using their devices to share their understanding of course material during class improves their comprehension of course material?
  • How does the instructor perceive student performance when electronic devices are used?
  • Does using devices to share understanding of course material during class improve students’ ability to stay focused and engaged while in class?
  • Do students who like using devices or who found the devices useful perform better on exams and quizzes?
  • How well do students understand course content?
  • Does giving students quick feedback through online quizzes improve student perception of learning comprehension?
  • How does the instructor respond to student performance on the quizzes?

Knowledge sharing: Results will be summarized in a report that will be distributed to faculty members in my department and to the Faculty of Environment and provided to ISTLD. My previous experience is that these grants provide grey literature/anecdotal evidence for how certain techniques work or do not work in courses. The results of this work will be made public through ISTLD, and I will be happy to share my experiences and provide my examples of implementation through ISTLD venues as requested. 

Keywords: learning technology, electronic devices, cellphone, laptop, engagement, distraction