How Do Students Actually Use Moodle Resources?

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As an instructional designer, I like to think that every student uses every resource that I put at their disposal when I create a Moodle course. As a teacher, I ...

How Do Students Actually Use Moodle Resources? John E. McEneaney ([email protected]) Department of Reading and Language Arts Oakland University, Rochester, MI As an instructional designer, I like to think that every student uses every resource that I put at their disposal when I create a Moodle course. As a teacher, I suspect that some resources are used more than others and, perhaps, some are not used at all. The purpose of my poster session will be to describe what I learned from a recent analysis of Moodle data and what it suggests I should consider changing in my course design. In presenting this work, I will also describe a general methodology for extracting and analyzing Moodle data to promote a more reflective and data-driven approach to course redesign. Data Extraction and Formatting for Analysis My exploration of student resource use begins with a Moodle “Activity Report.” Although Moodle provides a variety of ways to track resource use, my goal is to focus on a high-level perspective that is anonymous and, therefore, does not require Institutional Review Board approval. The key here is that, while Moodle is not anonymous, this data has no personally identifiable information. Other types of data sets may not meet this requirement.

The data extracted in the Activity Report provides both the total number of views of each resource and the total number of users whose clicks were counted. After some deliberation, I decided to rely on a views/user measure since this seems to me to most accurately represent resource use by students. I extracted numerical measures by pasting into Excel and using text functions to separate numerical values into columns. I also added data descriptors that specified the module where the resource was provided (module), the type of resource (task, feedback, etc.) and a resource subtype (forum, quiz, reading, etc.) This Excel data set was then read into SPSS and graph functions were used to examine the resource data use for two types of patterns: resource use across modules, and resource use by resource subtypes.

Resource module type subtype views LessonAn Introduction to the IRI and Reading mod1 Levels task rdg 1330 ForumStudent Background Forum mod1 task forum 243 ForumAmy IRI Forum mod1 task forum 338 AssignmentModule 1 Forum Points (this is mod1 where I post feedbk points for forum forum work) 138 QuizModule 1 Quiz (take the quiz after completing mod1 all task other module quiz1 work)193

users 23 24 23 22 24

v/u 57.83 10.13 14.70 6.27 8.04

Analysis: Resource Use Across Time Data analysis across modules suggests a pattern of resource use that draws on two factors: familiarity and high-stakes assessments. Resource use by students was greatest in Module 1, with a marked decline across the next two modules. Resource use then increases toward the middle of the term when two relatively high-stakes assessments were scheduled. Resource use then settled down again with another increase toward the end of the term. Implications for Course Design of the Observed Temporal Pattern It is not surprising that higher-stakes assessments led to greater use of resources. It is, however, somewhat surprising that resource use in the first few weeks of the term is so much greater than the norm across the remaining weeks. One plausible interpretation of this finding is that students examine resources more closely in an effort to develop more familiarity with the types of materials provided to support learning. If so, students may find it helpful for instructors to reduce the range of resources used early in the term in an effort to promote familiarity with course resources. Analysis: Resource Use by Sub-type Views per user across resource sub-types was largely as expected, with resources tied to specific graded tasks dominating the pattern of use. Forum assignments (depicted in red) and assigned readings associated with these assignments (in teal), for example, were used every week with course points tied to those assignments. Weekly strategy reviews (in green) and quizzes (in yellow) also make up a sizable proportion of views. I was also pleased to see that students made extensive use of practice quizzes (in orange) designed to help students become familiar with Moodle quiz features. One surprising and less positive outcome was that it appears that students made relatively little use of rubrics (in pink) that were provided to help them better understand the criteria that would be used with subjectively graded assignments (e.g., diagnostic write ups.) I would have hoped that they would show more interest in using these rubrics as a guide to their written work. Implications for Course Design of the Observed Resource Use I conclude from the more limited use of rubrics that it may be useful to be more explicit about how students should use the rubrics provided to enhance their written work. I am inclined to incorporate more specific graded assignments that rely on use of the rubrics rather than simply suggesting that rubrics be used to review draft and final write-ups. Conclusions Moodle provides ready access to data that can be helpful in better understanding how students use resources. This kind of data analysis may also suggest ways to better promote and support effective and efficient resource use by students.

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