Pasco Research Project
PASCO is a world leader in providing innovative solutions for teaching science.
In collaboration with Swinburne University of Technology and Brighton Grammar School, the Crowther Centre will investigate the learning and curriculum opportunities provided by the suite of PASCO data logging and measurement tools.
Areas of Research
User InterfaceHow do students interact with the user interface?
Modern students have been brought up with technology and are very used to pressing buttons / clicking menus to “see what it does”. As digital explorers they are more comfortable with technology than their teachers.
Hypothesis: A student’s measure of good interface design is how easy it is to explore and discover functionality.How autonomous can they be and what level of direction is required for them to become competent users?
A well designed user interface allows students the independence to interact with the data in a variety of ways (not just following the recipe from the teacher). If students can readily access a variety of graphs or other views of the data and see processed data (such as velocity and acceleration) they will be able to follow their own curiosity and engage deeper.
Hypothesis: The graphical design as well as structural paradigm (menu structure, function placement) of the PASCO user interface has an impact on the autonomy of the learner in using the tool and on the ability of learner to explore scientific ideas with needing teacher instruction.
Hypothesis: A graphical interface with larger icons and fewer levels of menu would be more suited for junior learners.
Using the Technology as a Team Tool (in pairs):How much does the technology reduce the time required to complete a learning task?
Hypothesis: The speed and accuracy of data collection using technology should significantly reduce the time required for the practical exercise. Time is saved in making the raw measurements and also in providing simple data processing directly (eg: speed and acceleration from distance and time measurements)What communication occurs between team members due to the presence of the technology?
Hypothesis: Team members will change the content and frequency of communication away from the data measurement itself towards interpretation and scientific ideas.What communication occurs between teacher and students due to the presence of the technology? How is this different to the communication without technology?
Hypothesis: Without technology, much of the teacher-student communication revolved around the process of data collection and processing. With much of this removed by the technology, teacher-student communication could emphasise concepts and understanding.To what degree does the ability of the technology to present processed data (such as acceleration) directly allow students to engage better with high level science concepts? How does the use of the technology reduce the number of cognitive steps a student must do from beginning to end? Does this result in better learning outcomes for weaker students (if so, to what degree)?
Hypothesis: By removing the cognitive demands of processing the data, students are able to keep focussed on exploring the science concept. This allows them to stay ‘on track’ for longer and so they gain a better understanding of the high level concepts.
Hypothesis: Weaker science students will avoid the distraction of data processing and so be able to go further with their understanding of the science concepts that without the technology.How does pedagogy change in the classroom due to the use of the technology?
The presence of technology provides challenges for teachers. Students may engage differently with an electronic tool compared to a more conventional approach. The speed of data collection may allow more tasks to be completed in a given time and/or a greater depth of exploration of ideas. Both of these would require pedagogic changes as well as a different language in the classroom (possibly less direct instruction and more questioning).
Hypothesis: Pedagogy will change significantly when a teacher is using data collection technology compared to when not. Pedagogic changes will include changes to lesson pace; type of language used; and amount of teacher direction.Does the use of technology allow a greater level of autonomy and depth of research question for students?
Having a tool that can quickly and accurately collect data should allow students greater opportunity to explore more complex science. If presented with an open ended project such as “What can we discover about the environment around this river?” the data collection technology should be able to allow measurements of factors that would normally be too cumbersome.
Hypothesis: When students are given an EPI (extended practical investigation), they will ask deeper questions.
Hypothesis: In an EPI, students will be able to investigate more factors and/or produce more accurate relationships between factors.