ABSTRACT: Evaluating a technology supported interactive response system during the laboratory section of a histology course
Monitoring of student learning through systematic formative assessment is important for adjusting pedagogical strategies. However, traditional formative assessments, such as quizzes and written assignments, may not be sufficiently timely for making adjustments to a learning process. Technology supported formative assessment tools assess student knowledge, allow for immediate feedback, facilitate classroom dialogues, and have the potential to modify student learning strategies. As an attempt to integrate technology supported formative assessment in the laboratory section of an upper-level histology course, the interactive application Learning CatalyticsTM , a cloud-based assessment system, was used. This study conducted during the 2015 Histology courses at Cornell University concluded that this application is helpful for identifying student misconceptions “on-the-go,” engaging otherwise marginalized students, and forming a new communication venue between students and instructors. There was no overall difference between grades from topics that used the application and grades from those that did not, and students reported that it only slightly helped improve their understanding of the topic (3.8 ± 0.99 on a five-point Likert scale). However, they highly recommended using it (4.2 ± 0.71). The major limitation was regarding the image display and graphical resolution of this application. Even though students embrace the use of technology, 39% reported benefits of having the traditional light microscope available. This cohort of students led instructors to conclude that the newest tools are not always better, but rather can complement traditional instruction methods.