166 paper

Understanding complex calculations: Automated spreadsheets with built-in feedback

Graeme Wood
School of Civil Engineering
University of Sydney

Mary-Helen Ward
USYD eLearning
University of Sydney

The e-Learning team at the University of Sydney was approached to help develop a resource that would address some areas of learning difficulty that had been identified in two engineering units of study. Complex spreadsheets were developed, then automated with VBA code to provide the students with a formative assessment resource, based on scaffolded learning with immediate feedback. Twenty spreadsheets were eventually made available to second- and third-year students. Student evaluations have led to further development of the feedback features to make it clearer to students why some answers were correct or incorrect, and thus to improve their conceptual understanding of the principles behind the mathematical calculations.

Keywords: teaching and learning strategies, instructional design, personalised learning