University of Twente Student Theses


Improving the efficiency and quality of help seeking and help giving for programming tutorials

Kok, H.M. (2019) Improving the efficiency and quality of help seeking and help giving for programming tutorials.

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Abstract:Background: Little research is done in the field of help seeking during tutorials by means of a Technology Enhanced Learning tool. There are a lot of studies that study help seeking in general. Likewise there are studies that researched the effect of online help seeking. However, the combination of face to face tutorials combined with a tool to improve help seeking is not yet explored. The level of the question is a factor that influences the quality of help seeking [1]–[5]. Moreover, when the perceived threat to self-worth that is associated with asking questions in public is reduced it increases help seeking behavior [6]–[10]. Further, several studies found that sharing questions and strategies improve future help seeking of students [1], [11], [12]. Studies that researched the effect of online help seeking on discussion forms concluded that moderating a discussion form takes a lot of time from the teaching staff. Furthermore, providing a discussion board on it self does not improve the learning of students [13], [14]. For online help giving to be successful the teaching staff needs to play a big role moderating the discussions [14], [15]. Most educations use the technique of letting students raise their hand when they have a question. This technique is vastly out dated and even worse inefficient. While students wait for help, they stagnate their work and focus on getting the attention of the help provider. Especially during programming tutorials this is a problem. Typing with one hand is extremely inefficient and most students do not even try to proceed while they wait for help. Because the students are already programming on their own laptop this brings the opportunity to design a solution for the hand raising problem that involves high technology. When education is supported by technological tools, it is called technology enhanced learning (TEL). Objective: This research’s objective is to find how technology enhanced learning can improve the quality and efficiency of help seeking and help giving for program- ming tutorials. Design: At the University of Twente several programming courses already used a web-application called TA-HelpMe to solve the hand raising problem. During this research that tool was expanded to become a TEL tool. Firstly, the tool was expanded with categories. When students wanted to request help they had to specify the category of that help. Hypotheses: By selecting the category of their help request, students will take more time to think about what kind of help they need, resulting in an improvement in the quality of help seeking. Further, by reading the category before going to the help request the teaching staff can prepare for the help request, this leads to a higher level of help. Also, by distributing the experience over the categories, the teaching staff can increase the self reported efficiency of help. Secondly, the students had to enter their question, by writing their own or picking a previously asked question. By letting students type out their question an attempt was made to improve the quality of help seeking. Moreover, letting students read the questions other students asked at the same category was expected to help students formulate better questions themselves. Lastly, a group-help feature was designed. With the feature the supporting staff could ask students who had the same question to come to the front to be helped simultaneously. This was expected to improve the efficiency of the help giving. Methods: The tool was then evaluated using quantitative data to measure the quality of the help seeking and the acceptance of the tool. Qualitative interviews were used to evaluate if the tool improved the efficiency and quality of the help seeking and giving according to the Teaching Assistants (TAs) of programming tuto- rials. Findings: By adding steps to the help seeking, the amount of improvident help seeking was reduced. The categories were perceived as useful. Adding categories to the questions and sign off entries, offered the TAs the opportunity to select what topics they would help. The TAs stated that the categories helped them to spread the attention of the TAs more effectively. When TAs lacked knowledge on a specific topic they could ask another TA to take on questions with that category. However, the typing out of the question did not increase the amount of specific questions that were asked. During the tutorials the TAs did not guide the students to ask better questions, the guidance of the question entry was not intuitively adapted by the TAs. Interpretation: Adding categories does increase the efficiency of help seeking, especially of the help giving. Moreover, the categories helped improve the quality of the help giving. Typing out the question on itself does not improve the quality of the help seeking. The TA-HelpMe tool was seen as an improvement of the tutorials by the majority of the students and TAs. Using technology enhanced learning tools can improve the efficiency of help seeking and giving for programming tutorials.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:EEMCS: Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science
Subject:54 computer science, 81 education, teaching
Programme:Science Education and Communication MSc (60708)
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