Academic journal article Issues in Informing Science & Information Technology

An Architecture of a Computer Learning Environment for Mapping the Student's Knowledge Level

Academic journal article Issues in Informing Science & Information Technology

An Architecture of a Computer Learning Environment for Mapping the Student's Knowledge Level

Article excerpt


Globalization and the advancements and dissemination of Information Technologies have led to a rapid expansion in the amount of information. If it was difficult to determine a person's knowledge level in the past, nowadays it is almost impossible. In the scope of Educational System, in which the issue at stake is learning, this becomes a problem to be considered, since several researches point to the effect of the previous knowledge on learning (Bransford, 2003).

In this context, the learning assessment as knowledge measuring takes on a crucial role, that is, it is necessary to understand what the student knows and what he does not know in order to teach him accordingly.

Although in theory there is a relation between the educational methods adopted and the assessment methods, in practice a kind of independence of each other can be clearly noticed.

The effect of evaluation on education can lead to very positive aspects. By way of illustration, a teacher can highlight some contents students fail to grasp based on the results. On the other hand, there are also negative aspects. For instance, a teacher might train students exclusively to pass their exams or students might be concerned only about the subjects that will appear on the test and not about the learning process itself..

The assessment process plays an essential role in producing information that can help students, parents, teachers, and educational administrators to get to know and deal more effectively with the learning gaps. Teachers and the Intelligent Tutoring Systems (ITS) can use this information to adapt the instruction to the student's learning needs and difficulties.

Another important aspect in the learning process relates to the student's metacognitive abilities, i.e., the process of reflecting about their own knowledge, what Flavell (1979) called metacognition. Knowledge of knowledge itself makes it possible for a meaningful learning process because students will be more aware of their own knowledge acquisition level.

A continuous assessment process is supposed to try to collect as much information as possible regarding the learner's cognitive and metacognitive level, thus diagnosing learning gaps, in order to provide everyone involved in the educational system with feedback. However, this data-gathering process would produce a large mass of data, demanding automatic or semi-automatic procedures for treating and analyzing.

Advances in computer technology have made it possible to store and process a larger amount of data and new technologies have been developed to help extract information from these databases, with emphasis on the Knowledge Discovery in Database (KDD) and the Data Mining (DM). KDD is a comprehensive process of finding useful information and patterns in data. Data Mining is the use of algorithms to extract information and patterns (Fayyad, 2002).

Since this paper presents a computer learning environment for mapping the student's knowledge level, it is relevant to point out the difference between the terms "knowledge mapping" and "learning assessment". Whereas the first refers exclusively to the action of determining the student's current knowledge level (regardless of how, when or where it was acquired), the latter refers to what the student has learned throughout an instructional process, taking into consideration what time and through which materials he achieved that goal (a class or a course). For centuries it has been sufficient to certify the level of knowledge at the end of a course. Nonetheless, at the beginning of a new course or a new level, can this certification still represent the student's current knowledge acquisition level (KAL)? Are the learning prerequisites that the student fulfill enough? Would it be helpful if both teachers and students could see a map of the student's KAL? What about if the teacher could see the KAL of the entire class in a specific subject? …

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