175 paper

Using educational technologies to understand how learners solve problems

Kristine A. Elliott, Gregor E. Kennedy
Biomedical Multimedia Unit
The University of Melbourne

In this paper we examine how a highly interactive educational technology program Child Growth & Development in the first 12 months of life was used to investigate the problem solving behaviour of learners. This preliminary study was also used to evaluate the study instruments ahead of a more substantial investigation. The design of the program was informed by Problem Based Learning (PBL) philosophy with authentic problems as the stimulus for problem solving activities. We describe how an electronic record of learners’ movements and activities was captured by an embedded audit trail system, as learners progressed through the steps of a problem solving procedure. This method revealed highly individual problem solving behaviours for learners. Similarities and differences were shared between learners at different stages of the process. External measures, including learner perceptions of problem solving ability, were used to supplement the audit trail data. This enabled a more detailed picture to emerge of the factors that may influence problem solving skills, including confidence, approach-avoidance style and self-control.

Keywords: problem solving, problem based learning (PBL), educational technologies,
audit trails