CEC Theses and Dissertations

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Date of Award

2009

Document Type

Dissertation - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Computing Technology in Education (DCTE)

Department

Graduate School of Computer and Information Sciences

Advisor

Gertrude W Abramson

Committee Member

Steven R Terrell

Committee Member

Helen St. Aubin

Abstract

Lab exercises are a pedagogically essential component of engineering and technology education. Distance education remote labs are being developed which enable students to access lab facilities via the Internet. Collaboration, students working in teams, enhances learning activity through the development of communication skills, sharing observations and problem solving. Web meeting communication tools are currently used in remote labs.

The problem identified for investigation was that no standards of practice or paradigms exist to guide remote lab designers in the selection of collaboration tools that best support learning achievement. The goal of this work was to add to the body of knowledge involving the selection and use of remote lab collaboration tools. Experimental research was conducted where the participants were randomly assigned to three communication treatments and learning achievement was measured via assessments at the completion of each of six remote lab based lessons. Quantitative instruments used for assessing learning achievement were implemented, along with a survey to correlate user preference with collaboration treatments.

A total of 53 undergraduate technology students worked in two-person teams, where each team was assigned one of the treatments, namely (a) text messaging chat, (b) voice chat, or (c) webcam video with voice chat. Each had little experience with the subject matter involving automation, but possessed the necessary technical background.

Analysis of the assessment score data included mean and standard deviation, confirmation of the homogeneity of variance, a one-way ANOVA test and post hoc comparisons. The quantitative and qualitative data indicated that text messaging chat negatively impacted learning achievement and that text messaging chat was not preferred. The data also suggested that the subjects were equally divided on preference to voice chat verses webcam video with voice chat. To the end of designing collaborative communication tools for remote labs involving automation equipment, the results of this work points to making voice chat the default method of communication; but the webcam video with voice chat option should be included.

Standards are only beginning to be developed for the design of remote lab systems. Research, design and innovation involving collaboration and presence should be included.

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