Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Timely Diagnostic Feedback for Database Concept Learning

Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Timely Diagnostic Feedback for Database Concept Learning

Article excerpt


Feedback provides learners with opportunities to adjust and develop their cognitive strategies and to rectify misconceptions during training (Azevedo & Bernard, 1995). Maughan et al. (2001) noted that e-learning feedback provides the information required to identify needed improvements. Scholars thus deem feedback as an essential e- learning component that facilitates student learning (Wang, 2008). Additionally, feedback received during a learning process can assist learners in reflecting on their learning and improve their motivation (Marriott, 2009). However, most early e-learning systems only offer short statements, such as "correct" or "incorrect," or update a score as feedback for student input, thereby limiting communication with learners. Therefore, e-learning systems that provide feedback to address student problems during a learning process have become popular. Diagnostic feedback allows learners to receive useful hints, which may facilitate the identification of a learner's misconceptions, provide crucial clues to rectify misconceptions, or offer remedial materials for learning (Chen et al., 2007; Lee et al., 2009).

Studies related to feedback timing (e.g., timely and delayed feedback) have obtained conflicting outcomes for the effects of feedback on learning (Anderson et al., 2001; Corbalan et al., 2010; Corbett & Anderson, 2001; Schroth, 1992). Although researchers for decades have examined the effects of timely feedback and delayed feedback on learning, study results for feedback timing have always been controversial (Mory, 2004). However, timely feedback has typically proven to have better effects than delayed feedback for a well- structured problem, which is a logic-, story-, and rule-based problem with predefined steps and exact solutions (Laxman, 2010). Timely feedback is mainly based on the theory proposed by Jonassen (1997), which claims that timely feedback is important in informing learners where their problem-solving processes went wrong and in providing coaching at an appropriate time.

Currently, most works related to well-structured problems provide diagnostic feedback only after a learner finishes a problem. However, this delayed feedback may hinder acquisition of the information needed during a problem-solving process (Dempsey et al., 1993; Kulik & Kulik, 1988). Thus, timely diagnostic feedback is promising to help learners enhance their learning achievements.

This work investigates the influence of timely diagnostic feedback on learning the "Database Concept," which belongs to the type of well-structured problems. To provide timely diagnostic feedback, this work first extracts a learner's database concept, an Entity-relationship Diagram (ERD) (Chen, 1976), into a two-dimensional matrix. This matrix and the correct matrix are compared to obtain the misconceptions of learners. Based on these misconceptions, association rules (Han & Kamber, 2001) are adopted to model learner behavioral patterns. Analyzing learner misconceptions can provide suitable hints and discover prospective misconceptions.

Using the proposed approach, this work realistically develops a novel Web-based Timely Diagnosis System (WTDS) to diagnose learning obstacles and to further provide crucial and adaptive hints in real time during a problem-solving process. This work also describes how to use the Asynchronous JavaScript and XML (AJAX ) technique (Paulson, 2005) and association rules to achieve timely diagnostic feedback. An evaluation is conducted to assess the effectiveness of the proposed WTDS. Finally, questionnaires and interviews are used to acquire student attitudes toward the proposed WTDS.

Background and literature review

Entity-relationship diagram

The Entity-Relationship Model is a data modeling method in the database concept that produces a conceptual schema or semantic data model of a relational database. Diagrams created by this process are called Entity-Relationship Diagrams (ERD) (Chen, 1976). …

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