Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Effects of a Peer Assessment System Based on a Grid-Based Knowledge Classification Approach on Computer Skills Training

Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Effects of a Peer Assessment System Based on a Grid-Based Knowledge Classification Approach on Computer Skills Training

Article excerpt

Introduction

Presently, most vocational students have significant experience using computers, and endeavor to pass the certification of the office word processing software application in their first year of senior vocational school in Taiwan. The skill evaluation center of the workforce development agency of the Council of Labor Affairs (i.e., CLA) conducts such testing. San et al. (2006) indicated that the licensing rate is an important index for measuring labor quality; moreover, those who pass the licensing tests are deemed to be more professionally qualified and competitive in the labor market (San et al., 2006). There is no implementation subject which every vocational school student has to learn besides the certification of computer software application, because fostering such competence is one of the essential employability skills in the workplace. In other words, there is a particular population with an urgent need to learn this topic. The certification includes two stages. The first assesses the students' academic knowledge, while the second assesses their practical computing skills with real tasks which must be completed within two hours using the functions of the application software for managing, editing, and positioning the required fonts, tables, paragraphs, format styles, word art, visual material, columns, and layout size. After passing both the academic and practical tasks, CLA will certify the students.

Knowing how to operate software does not necessarily mean one can correctly use it for practical applications. Learning to apply the available information and software to solve problems is vital for vocational high school students (Valtonen, Hacklin, Dillon, Vesisenaho, Kukkonen, & Hietanen, 2012; Chang, Tseng, & Lou, 2012). Scholars have noted that vocational students have relatively low academic achievement and less positive attitudes toward learning, resulting in a lack of higher-order thinking (Lee, Shen, & Tsai, 2010; Yang, 2015). Yang (2015) warned that low engagement and outdated approaches to instruction are the two main challenges of vocational education. Repeated operation without supporting students' thinking may result in a lack of problem- solving capability in the workplace (Yang, 2015). Therefore, it is necessary to provide these students with higher-order thinking learning activities. Simply learning a software's functionality in class does not elicit the students' full potential because they may not be able to correctly apply, analyze or evaluate the functions they have learned to solve the problems or complete the tasks they have been assigned. To deal with this phenomenon, this study considers a peer assessment approach which lets the students learn not only from the teacher's lessons but also by finding their peers' implementation errors (Race, 2001; Hsia, Huang, & Hwang, 2015). Peer assessment is one of the higher-order thinking learning activities (Lorente-Catalan & Kirk, 2016). Moreover, performing the active role of a reviewer can have a positive impact on one's own learning (Chinn, 2005). Therefore, a peer assessment system with a grid-based knowledge classification approach based on knowledge engineering was developed.

Scholars have indicated that the peer assessment process is challenging for students because they have difficulty knowing what and how to explain their evaluation; however, providing them with specific assistance and conducting knowledge acquisition are two main strategies for overcoming these problems (Lawrence & Zollinger, 2015). Therefore, the current study hypothesized that using a repertory grid method, one of the knowledge acquisition approaches in knowledge engineering, would help the students conduct peer assessment and learn from the process. Knowledge engineering refers to the process of developing expert systems which are artificial intelligence programs capable of imitating human decision-making processes on the basis of knowledge derived from domain experts. …

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