This study analyzes the benefits and limitations of a “free-selection” peer assignment protocol by comparing them to the widely implemented “assigned-pair” protocol. The primary motivation was to circumvent the issues that often appear to the instructors implementing peer review activities with pre-assigned groups, without posing additional workload to the instructor or diminishing the learning outcomes. In the study, 36 sophomore students in a Computer Networking course were randomly assigned into two conditions: 20 in Assigned-Pair, where the students worked in pre-defined dyad, and 17 in Free-Selection, where students were able to explore and select peer work for review. Result analysis showed a very strong tendency in favor of the Free-Selection students regarding both domain specific (conceptual) and domain-general (reviewing) knowledge.
The use of case-based learning environments (CBLEs) is expected to benefit students by guiding them to study contextually rich real world situations. However, efficient design approaches are needed to support students’ processing of the complex material embedded in a CBLE. In this work we argue that, in designing technology-enhanced CBLEs, scripts and narrative can be regarded as effective external representations, in that they support learning from multimedia cases by fostering students’ context awareness. As an application case, we present the design of e-CASE (Context Awareness Supporting Environment), a CBLE supporting instruction in the domain of software project development.
This study investigates the hypothesis that students’ learning and problem-solving performance in ill-structured domains can be improved, if elaborative question prompts are used to activate students’ context-generating cognitive processes, during case study. Two groups of students used a web-based learning environment to criss-cross and study casebased material in the software project management domain. The experimental group was additionally prompted to consistently answer a set of questions based on a model of context-generating processes, meant to engage students in deeper processing of information presented in cases. Students were also classified as having either ‘‘complex’’ or ‘‘simple’’ EB profile (based on their epistemological beliefs record), thereby establishing a 2 · 2 factorial design. Results indicated that scaffolding treatment had a significant main effect on students’ performance, with the experimental group performing better in both domain knowledge acquisition and knowledge transfer post-test items. There is also tentative indication that EB profile and scaffolding treatment interact, with complex-EB learners benefiting most from the scaffolded condition. Overall, the study provides evidence that it is possible to improve individual learning in a technology environment for case-based learning, by implementing appropriate questioning strategies that trigger students to activate their context-generating cognitive processes, while studying the contextually rich material of cases.