COMPUTER ASSISTANT LEARNING: LEVEL OF MASTERY OF STUDENT SKILLS IN PROBLEM SOLVING

COMPUTER ASSISTANT LEARNING: LEVEL OF MASTERY OF STUDENT SKILLS IN PROBLEM SOLVING

ABSTRACT

Nowadays, Computer Aided Learning (PBK) materials are widely used as a learning medium. The objective of this study is to find out the level of skills mastered by students in using the PBK method with groups of students who do not use it. Electronic Workbench software was used in this study as PBK material. This study identifies the use of PBK as a cognitive tool that can be used in generating problem-solving skills. The sample in this study is 72 students of Diploma in Electrical Engineering Electrical and Electronics Course session 2004/2005 at Ungku Omar Polytechnic, Perak. The sample in this study is divided into two groups, namely the experimental group and the control group. Data were analyzed one by one according to the level of cognitive domain skill set by Bloom’s. There are six research hypotheses formed for the research questions tested using an independent sample test. The results of the study show that there is a significant difference between the experimental group and the control group in terms of skill level. The conclusion from this study is that the use of PBK in learning can improve student performance.

INTRODUCTION

The use of computers in Malaysia has increased dramatically in recent times in the field of education, especially in the teaching and learning process. This increase stems from the government’s policy to make Malaysia a developed country balanced with other developed countries. Computer technology has the capacity of ability to impact the effectiveness and productivity of education. The use of computer technology can also indirectly be a tool to enhance high-level thinking. According to Criswell (1989) in Munir and Halimah (2000), computer-assisted learning (PBK) is defined as the use of computers in delivering teaching materials by actively involving students and enabling feedback. According to him, PBK is to teach and teach means to deliver lessons using computer programs. According to Shaharom (1991), computer-assisted teaching is divided into several categories and computer simulation is one example in that category. According to Gokhale (1996), the use of computer simulation in learning can improve high-level thinking among students. The National Education Association Research Division (1994) stated that high level thinking skills are very necessary among students to enter the world of work. In the workplace, simulations have long been used to train professionals. For example in the field of aviation, computer simulations have been used to train pilots before they fly an aircraft.

BACKGROUND OF PROBLEMS

Problem solving is one of the things that can not be avoided in human life. In education, problem solving is no exception. An instructor must have extensive knowledge of problem solving skills so that it can promote problem solving skills among his students. In addition, students also need to develop a strategy for problem solving. In institutions of higher learning, especially in polytechnics, usually, the instructor still uses the lecture method in the teaching process. The main role of the instructor while in the classroom is to deliver a lecture or argument orally. (Zol Azlan Hamidin, 2000). Instructors usually give lectures to students and then students will copy notes and memorize or understand what is learned to succeed in the exam. But sometimes there will be situations where students do not have time to copy notes and cause students to sit back and listen only.

18th Educational Technology Convention

In the field of electrical engineering, in particular, it is common to reinforce what has been learned in the classroom and to get a true picture of how an electrical circuit works, for example, laboratory experiments are performed. There all the theories and concepts that have been learned in the classroom are re-applied and indirectly promote problem-solving skills among students. However, not all experiments performed by students in the laboratory were successful. According to Najjar (1995), students take a long time while making wiring and sometimes there are problems with the components. This causes the learning process to be stunted. The problem now is, to generate problem-solving skills, students first need to be exposed to problems related to what is being learned (Forcier and Descy, 2002). In the process of teaching and learning traditional methods, problem solving skills among students is generated through the discussion of questions related to the topic studied, or in other words, the instructor gives questions to students and asks students to solve them. This complicates the process of generating problem-solving skills because students rely on the instructor to get answers.

One of the appropriate ways is to transfer the responsibilities of lecturers to students through student-centered learning that is learning using directed discovery or exploration methods. Directed exploration here, requires students to use resources that are not available in the classroom to solve problems. Therefore need a resource or tool that can help solve the problem and further hone problem solving skills among students. The source or tool referred to here is a computer simulation. Computer simulation is a computer program that tries to replicate real-life experiences in some form. According to Maddux, et al. (1996), computer simulation is a model or description of a situation or situation that occurs in real life.

According to Vockel and Van Deusen (1989) in Maddux, et al. (1996), computer simulation is a tool that can be used to improve high-level thinking. This is supported by Gokhale (1996), in his study stated that computer simulation design can improve high-level thinking skills. There are several features that are present or classified in high-level thinking. According to Miller (1990), high-level thinking refers to critical thinking, and among its characteristics are the ability to think creatively, make decisions, solve problems and can analyze and make assumptions when faced with a problem. According to Pogrow (1994) in Gokhale (1996), there are three principles involved in learning strategies based on the Higher Order Thinking Skills Project (HOTS), namely:

  • Creating a curious learning environment.
  • Combines visual learning experiences and interactivity that help students form mental representations.
  • Develop cognitive designs that incorporate learning experiences.

Interactive computer simulation based on stated strategies, helps students form or make a description for an event and discuss the validity of each explanation using a mixture of technical ideas and concepts in the simulation. Based on the above statement, it shows that the use of computer simulation in Electrical Technology subjects can improve students’ ability in problem solving. According to Quinn (1993) in Gokhale (1996), by giving students the opportunity to practice using computer simulations, it will improve problem solving skills. Moreover, according to Thomas and Hopper (1989) in Maddux, et al. (1996), the use of computer simulation in education can improve students’ ability in problem solving.

In the learning process that uses the method of lectures or “talk and chalk”, which is more centered on the instructor, the knowledge imparted is not fully accepted by students. Referring to a study conducted by Menn (1993) in Gokhale (1996), only 30% of the knowledge gained by students from lectures delivered by instructors in lectures. Coupled with experiments in the laboratory, then only 90% of the knowledge is mastered by the students. According to Choi and Gennaro (1987) in Joolingen (1999), only 50% of knowledge is mastered by students when conducting experiments in the laboratory. Therefore, only 80% of the knowledge is mastered by the students as a result of learning through lectures and laboratory experiments.

18th Educational Technology Convention

According to Polya (1957) in Maddux, et al. (1996), there are several steps involved in the problem solving process, and among those steps are the construction of hypotheses, formulate strategies, collect data, analyze data and draw conclusions. According to Forcier and Descy (2002), problem solving skills involve levels of analysis, synthesis, and evaluation skills. These skill levels are the skill levels in the cognitive domain found in Bloom’s taxonomy. One of the tools that can aid cognitive processes is a computer simulation (Thomas and Hopper, 1989 in Maddux, et al. 1996). Therefore, the use of computer simulations can help in generating problem solving skills. The skills can be acquired by students by using computer simulations because learning using simulations leads students towards learning using discovery methods. According to one study, in the study of discovery learning, in the process of discovery in order for learning to be successful, students need to use some skills such as hypothesis formation, experimental design, assumptions, and data analysis (Joolingen, 1999). The question is, does the use of PBK affect the ability of students in problem solving in learning the subject of Electrical Technology 1 based on the background of the problem and the description given. students need to use some skills such as hypothesis formation, experimental design, assumptions, and data analysis (Joolingen, 1999). The question is, does the use of PBK affect the ability of students in problem solving in learning the subject of Electrical Technology 1 based on the background of the problem and the description given. students need to use some skills such as hypothesis formation, experimental design, assumptions, and data analysis (Joolingen, 1999). The question is, does the use of PBK affect the ability of students in problem solving in learning the subject of Electrical Technology 1 based on the background of the problem and the description given.

PURPOSE OF THE STUDY

The purpose of this study is to see the effect of the use of computer simulation in PBK Electronic Workbenc (EW) material by students on the ability in solving problems related to electrical circuit analysis when faced with questions related to the subject of Electrical Technology 1. Research questions The following have been studied in this study:

  • What is the skill level mastered by the group of students who use EW computer simulation compared to the group of students who do not use it?
  • To what extent is the use of Electronic Workbench computer simulation used on the group of students who use it compared to the group of students who do not use it in learning Electrical Technology 1?
  • Does the use of Electronic Workbench computer simulation affect students’ ability in problem solving?

METHODOLOGY

This study uses an experimental design known as “Static-Group Comparison Design”. The selected sample is divided into two groups, namely the control group which is the group of students who use traditional learning methods, and the experimental group which is the group of students who use EW computer simulation in learning. To see the effect of learning on both groups formed, a postal test was conducted.

Population and sample

This study was conducted in an institution of higher learning as mentioned. The population for this study is all students of Diploma in Electrical Engineering Electrical and Electronics course Semester 1, Session 2004/2005 which is a total of 72 people. The sample in this study is all students in the population consisting of two classes namely DKE 1A and DKE 1B in the institution.

Instruments

For the purpose of obtaining data on the effects of the use of EW computer simulations in the learning of Electrical Technology 1 subjects, two research instruments are used, namely:

  • Set of test questions for Electrical Technology 1 subject (Post test)
  • The set of test questions for Electrical Technology subject 1 used in this study is the main instrument to answer all three research questions. This set of questions was distributed after the learning process using PBK EW for the control group and the learning process using traditional methods for the control group was completed. There is a classification of items in the set of test questions developed. The classification of items made is according to the 6 skill levels found in Bloom’s taxonomy. This is because students’ ability in problem solving in this study is measured based on the skill levels found in Bloom’s taxonomy.
  • Questionnaire Form The questionnaire used in this study is the second research instrument. This questionnaire was used to support the findings of the first research instrument. In this study, this questionnaire was only distributed to the experimental group. The use of the questionnaire in this study is to see students’ perceptions of the effect of using EW computer simulations in the study of Electrical Technology subjects. Developed based on the ARCS model related to motivation

RESULTS

In this study, the data were analyzed using two types of tests, namely mean score test and t-test. The tester was used to test the hypotheses formed based on the research questions.

Study Question I

For study question 1, six hypotheses have been formed. Based on Table 1, the results of t-test findings show that only at the level of synthesis skills there is a significant difference in the level of mastery between the group of students who use EW computer simulation with the group of students who do not use it. While at the skill level of knowledge, understanding, application, analysis, and assessment, there is no difference in the level of mastery between the group of students who use EW computer simulation with the group of students who do not use it.

Through the analysis of mean scores, it was found that there is a difference in the level of mastery of skill levels at all levels between groups of students who use computer simulations and groups of students who do not use computer simulations. The group of students who did not use computer simulation with a mean score = 2.64, more mastered the level of knowledge skills compared to the group of students who used computer simulation with a mean score = 2.56. At the level of comprehension skills, the level of mastery of the group that uses computer simulation with a mean score = 2.15, is higher than the group that does not use computer simulation with a mean score = 2.04. Similarly at the application skills level, the level of mastery of groups of students using computer simulations with a mean score = 2.44,

At the level of analytical skills, the level of mastery of the group of students who use computer simulation with a mean score = 1.96, is higher than the group of students who do not use computer simulation with a mean score = 1.87. At the synthesis skills level, the level of mastery of the group of students who use computer simulation with a mean score = 0.96, is higher than the group of students who do not use computer simulation with a mean score = 0.82. While with a mean score = 0.33 for the group of students who use computer simulations and a mean score = 0.13, the experimental group has more control over the level of assessment skills compared to the control group. For the analysis of the mean score of test score achievement, a group of students using computer simulation (mean score = 13.

Study Question II

For study question 2, the effect of using EW computer simulation refers to the level of achievement of test scores and students’ perception of the use of EW computer simulation in Electrical Technology 1. A hypothesis has been formed from this study question 2. Table 1 which is based on the results of the t-test shows that there is a significant difference in student achievement scores between groups of students who use simulations with groups of students who do not use computer simulations. The results of the mean score analysis showed that the mean score of achievement of test scores of students using computer simulation (mean score = 13.70) is higher than the mean score of achievement of test scores of students who do not use computer simulation (mean score = 12.40). For students ‘perceptions of the use of computer simulations based on Table 2, it was found that the mean score of students’ perceptions of the effects of the use of computer simulations in terms of attention, relevance, and satisfaction is at high levels of 3.84, 3.62 and 3.89. While the mean score of students’ perception of the effect of using computer simulation in terms of confidence is at a moderate level of 3.31.

Study Questions III

For research questions 3 students’ ability in problem solving, seen based on 3 skill levels in Bloom’s taxonomy, namely analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. Based on the questions of this study, there is a hypothesis formed. From Table 1, the results of the study that is through the t-test show the use of EW computer simulation in learning Electrical Technology 1 does not affect the ability of students in problem solving. This is because the group of students who use computer simulations only master the level of synthesis skills. While to master problem solving skills, students need to master the level of analysis, synthesis, and evaluation skills. From the results of the mean score analysis obtained from this study, it shows the opposite.

CONCLUSION

The results of this study found that: (1) there is a significant difference in the level of mastery of skill level between groups of students who use EW computer simulation with groups of students who do not use EW computer simulation, (2) there are significant differences in test score achievement between groups students using EW computer simulations with groups of students not using EW computer simulations, and (3) there was no significant difference in the level of ability in problem solving between groups of students using EW computer simulations with groups of students not using EW computer simulations.

It can be said that computer simulation in PBK EW can be used as a tool to improve students’ skill levels in the cognitive domain. From the results of the skill level, the results of the hypothesis test show that the group of students who use computer simulation master only one skill level. However, the results of the study of mean score analysis show that the group of students who use computer simulation in learning Electrical Technology 1 mastered five skill levels out of six. To make PBK a tool to improve skill levels, students should be exposed to appropriate computer simulations over a long period of time. In other words, do not limit the time for students to use it.

Since the use of EW computer simulation by students in learning the subject of Electrical Technology 1 in this study is limited, then the effect of its maximum use can not be seen. Although the group of students using EW computer simulation did not master all skill levels, from the achievement of test scores, the group using EW computer simulation showed better performance than the group of students who did not use EW computer simulation. This is because of the features found in the computer simulation itself where students can get a real picture of how the state of a circuit works. In addition, the influence of motivation is also one of the factors that contribute to student achievement. In this study, the use of EW computer simulation in learning Electrical Technology 1 subject increases student motivation. When students are motivated in learning, then it will affect student performance. As for students’ ability in problem solving, the results of hypothesis testing show that the use of EW computer simulation does not affect students who use it because students only master one skill level out of three skill levels that should be mastered. As discussed in the student skill level discussion, limited time is a factor that causes the effect of maximum computer simulation use is not visible. However, from the results of the analysis of mean scores, it can be concluded that the use of computer simulations can enhance students’ ability in problem solving. Overall, from the findings obtained, the use of EW computer simulation in learning the subject of Electrical Technology 1 can have a positive effect on the group of students who use it.

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