Learning-by-Judging: A Network Learning Environment Based on Peer Evaluation

Article excerpt

The paradigms of science and engineering education have been evolving along the dimensions of theory, pedagogy, and technology. As network-based, computer-assisted learning is drawing more and more attention the past few years, promising learning theories such as constructive learning and collaborative learning have found new meaning and new ways of implementation in the new, network-based environment. In this article, we propose a learning environment in which a learning strategy, called Learning-by-Judging, can be realized to help constructive learning.

The proposed environment is a World Wide Web (Web) based system that supports learning strategies through design and peer evaluation. Samples designed by students are demonstrated in screen windows for others to evaluate by way of a network. A learning procedure includes several rounds of sample-design and mutual evaluation. The learning process is recorded and analyzed, and then the result is fed back to the students to achieve the goal of meta-cognition. We expect this approach to encourage students participating in instructional activities early and effectively.

We conducted a small-scale experiment in which color-matching was chosen as the design subject. We collected and analyzed users' behavior patterns in a preliminary manner. We are improving the functionality and interface of the learning environment. We expect to conduct formal instructional experiments in the near future.

Students were largely isolated in traditional, computer-assisted learning (CAL) environments, for example, a CD-ROM courseware-based system. This was so because, usually, the interactions provided by these kinds of environments occurred only between the students and the courseware/system. Recently, the development of computer networks has enhanced the CAL environment with communication facilities among students in a synchronous or asynchronous manner. This way, they can cooperate with each other in a virtual learning community. There have been many network-based platforms developed and evaluated. Among them, the Web has become one of teachers' and educational researchers' favorites.

This trend enables the exploration of new pedagogical strategies in computer-assisted and network-mediated environments. Furthermore, a network-based environment encourages students to search and organize materials related to the topic of study. It also provides a natural collaborative situation for the students to cultivate their social and communication skills, as many have mentioned. In addition, computers integrate various media and interactive equipment. They can be used to effectively support appropriate tools to guide the process of cooperation among a group of students, to take down the records of the cooperation process, and to analyze the recorded patterns by using artificial intelligence mechanisms.

In this article, we propose a new learning system, called Learning-by-Judging. It is a distance learning environment which provides the basic functionality to realize several important concepts in distributed constructionism (Resnick, 1996), such as active learning, consensus development, and meta-cognition. We also integrate the procedure employed in the Delphi method for group decision-making, taking advantage of the interactive properties provided by the network environment.

We construct the Learning-by-Judging environment on the Web because it provides a multimedia, multi-user environment in which participants from different cultures and professional fields can work together and share their designs and values. In this environment, we expect the users to start participating with a minimal amount of prior knowledge so that active learning is encouraged. Then, through the process of construction and re-construction, they will be able to develop general principles and theories.

This approach is an enhancement to project-based learning (PBL) by providing a supplement of peer evaluation. …