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At WPI, some students are learning it's OK to peek
Date:2/10/2009

WORCESTER, Mass. There was a time when peeking at another student's work during class was a problem. Then again, there was a time when only televisions had clickers, not classrooms.

Starting in January, not only do students in the undergraduate biology lab sections at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) have clickers, they are using them in a new way that promises to improve student-achievement and enhance teaching during science labs. It's all part of a novel academic technology suite, dubbed "The Connected Lab," developed at WPI through a grant from the Davis Educational Foundation.

The Connected Lab has three main components: real-time display of student lab results during class; remote access to all student data for analysis after the lab; and an online library of multimedia content demonstrating lab procedures that students can view at their convenience to help prepare for class or to use as a resource in the lab.

During a lab session, students use hand-held remote devices (clickers) to enter their data as their experiments progress. All data is immediately displayed, by lab group, on a projection screen for the whole class to see. "The students like to see how they are doing compared to other groups, and it helps me to be more effective teaching the lab," says Michael Buckholt, principal investigator of The Connected Lab program and instructor in WPI's Department of Biology and Biotechnology. "When the lab is in progress, I can't be looking over every student's shoulder, all the time. But with this system, I can quickly see which groups are on track. If any groups are getting into trouble, I can go right away to the group that needs intervention and help them through it. When we catch mistakes early, it makes the rest of the lab more meaningful."

The Connected Lab project is also designed to minimize time taken up with discussions of routine set-up and experimental procedures, thereby giving the students more t
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Contact: Michael Cohen
mcohen@wpi.edu
508-868-4778
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Source:Eurekalert  

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