Addressing Diverse Learning Styles Using a Digital Learning Management System in Classrooms

Addressing Diverse Learning Styles Using a Digital Learning Management System in Classrooms

Meera Singh, Qiao Sun, Caitlin Quarrington, Margaret Glover-Cambell and Cassy Weber

Consistent with the majority of provinces across Canada, the enrollment in senior level high school physics in Alberta has significantly lagged behind enrollment in commensurate chemistry and biology classes. Furthermore, there is significant gender disparity in respect of high school physics students; the majority of students are male. Since physics is a prerequisite for entrance into engineering programs across the country, it is a concern that engineering programs are losing good students who are choosing not to take senior high school physics. Relatedly, the gender disparity within engineering programs is in part a consequence of that same disparity in high school physics. To promote engineering enrollment and to foster diversity in their own student population, engineering outreach programs are often aimed at providing university led in-class presentations / demonstrations in K-12 classrooms. Although met with some anecdotal success, enrolment issues may be more effectively addressed by engineering academics if their efforts were directed toward providing research support in the evaluation of educational tools that may support high school teachers in delivering content themselves in a manner that appeals to their daily instructional needs and to the learning needs of the diverse student population.

An award winning digital learning management system (DLMS) developed by leading Canadian STEM not-for-profit organization is under investigation. This system is a personalized curriculum based hypermedia instructional tool for K-12 educators and students. Being digitally based, it has the potential for rapid integration into classrooms. The tool appeals to digital natives (students), and incorporates: mind mapping (discovery based learning), experts on call, gamification, all integrated through teacher views that produce dynamic project-based lesson plans. The system encourages an interdisciplinary approach that requires students to draw on multiple subject areas simultaneously to solve real world problems. Previous research conducted by the authors has indicated that in the context of learning style models, the DLMS provides a balanced approach to learning. It therefore has the potential to augment the traditional linear and theoretically-based instruction format of physics curriculum delivery, which may only appeal to students with similar learning styles.

This study will first present the results of attitudinal and learning style surveys that were conducted in local high schools that correlate student learning style profiles with gender, attitudes towards physics, typical engineering students learning style profiles, and traditional instructional methods in physics. Specific physics modules designed by the authors will be integrated into the DLMS and will be used to enhance learning in targeted K-12 school classrooms. Pre and post survey data that includes attitudinal markers, learning style profiles, gender, and assessments of knowledge gained, will be analyzed and presented.

Proceedings of the 13th International CDIO Conference in Calgary, Canada, June 18-22 2017

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