Infoscience

Conference paper

Distributed Awareness for Class Orchestration

The orchestration process consists of managing classroom interactions at multiple levels: individual activities, teamwork and class-wide sessions. We study the process of orchestration in recitation sections, i.e. when students work on their assignments individually or in small groups with the presence of teaching assistants who give help on demand. Our empirical study revealed that recitation sections suffer from inefficient orchestration. Too much attention is devoted to the management of the relationship between students and teaching assistants, which prevent both sides from concentrating on their main task. We present a model of students’ activities during recitation sections that emphasize the issue of mutual awareness, i.e. monitoring help needs and TA's availability. To tackle these difficulties, we developed two awareness tools. Both tools convey the same information: which exercise each group is working on, whether it has asked for help and for how long. In the centralized version, named Shelf, students provide information with a personal response system and the status of each team is juxtaposed on a central display. In the distributed version, named Lantern, each team provides information by interacting with a lamp placed on its table. The display is distributed over the classroom, the information being spatially associated to each group. We are now comparing these two versions in an empirical study with two first year undergraduate classes in Physics. Preliminary results show that both versions increase the efficiency of interaction between students and teaching assistants. This contribution focused on the distributed version.

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