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Effects of Tablet Pcs on Students’ Learning in an Introductory Statistics Course

Updated September 5, 2022

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Effects of Tablet Pcs on Students’ Learning in an Introductory Statistics Course essay

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Tablet PCs offer an alternative to the traditional chalk-board lectures. With Tablet PCs, instructors can write on PowerPoint slides during lecture. This offers real-time response between the instructor and students. This paper compares students’ learning outcomes using four different types of lectures: traditional chalk-board lecture, PowerPoint presentation only, PowerPoint with chalk and board, and PowerPoint with Tablet PC. We found that students’ average quiz scores from PowerPoint with Tablet lectures are significantly higher than average quiz scores from all other types of lectures. In the end-of-semester survey, student responses showed that they liked the PowerPoint with Tablet lectures significantly better than other types of lectures and they felt that they learned the best with the Tablet lectures.


Traditional lectures were given mostly using chalk and board. With the development of technology, different tools were applied in lectures, for example, PowerPoint slides, overhead transparencies and Tablet PCs.

PowerPoint presentations offered better visualization of class materials and provided better outline of the materials before class than the traditional chalk-board approach. Carefully designed PowerPoint presentations helped students to learn and motivated students’ learning (Bartsch & Cobern, 2003, Lari 2014). However, it was less flexible for PowerPoint presentations as they were set in advance before class, preventing modifications to respond to students’ questions during lecture time. The supplement of using chalk and board to PowerPoint presentations could potentially solve the problem. But there were some limitations of this approach: board has limited space; instructor may block students while writing on the board; and the writing on a board may not be well connected to the slides. One possible solution is to use Tablet PC as a supplement tool to write notes on PowerPoint slides while lecturing (Bilder & Malone 2008).

Instructors can write using a digital pen on the screen, and digital pen interacts with the screen the same way as a mouse. Among all classroom technologies, Tablet PCs were the most recent invented tools that allow instructors to provide students logical steps of solving a problem, utilize visual aids, and post in-class materials online for review. Lecturing using Tablet PC helped to incorporate instructor annotations with visualization, made the instructor able to face the class, and did not obstruct the view of the materials as it was presented (Brophy & Walker, 2005). Teaching with Tablet PC made the lecture dynamic and motivated students to learn (Cicchino & Mirliss 2004, Loch & Donovan 2006). The use of Tablet PC helped to improve performance of students as it provided an interactive engaging classroom environment (Bilder & Malone 2008, Amelito 2009, Robson & Kennedy 2013).

Regarding to students’ learning experiences, studies have shown that Tablet PC use enhanced student learning experience in a design-oriented course (Berque et al. 2006, Bilen et al. 2008). Studies have reported that Tablet PC supported and provided benefits across all learning styles (Kothaneth et al. 2012). Tablet PCs have improved students’ attendance, performance, and retention in STEM field (Romney, 2011). In Romney’s study, the researcher also reported that students who began their undergraduate mathematics education in the Tablet PC classes were more likely to stay in the STEM field than students without Tablet PC facilitating their first year classes.

From an instructor point of view, the Tablet enabled the instructor to combine the features of traditional chalk-board lectures and multimedia techniques (Frolic and Zurn, 2004). It has been reported that Tablet PC supported instructors demonstrating the problem solving process, providing visual aids, and helping to keep a record of the materials (Chen et al. 2008).

In this paper, we investigated whether lecturing using PowerPoint and Tablet enhanced student learning, and compared the students’ performance among four types of lectures: 1) traditional Chalk-Board lecture; 2) PowerPoint presentation only; 3) PowerPoint with Chalk-Board; and 4) PowerPoint with Tablet.

Classroom environment

Data were collected from two sections of an introductory statistics course at the Center for Learning Innovation at University of Minnesota Rochester. Classes were given at the same type of active learning classroom for both of the sections. There were six rectangular tables and forty-two chairs (seven chairs per table) in the classroom. Thirty-seven students were in section one with about six to seven students per table, and thirty-three students were in section two with five to six students per table. Two project screens were located at two corners of the classroom. There were white boards on three sides of the walls. PowerPoint presentations were projected to the two screens. A [email protected] Bamboo Pen and Touch slate-style Tablet (figure 1) was connected to the classroom PC. The instructor were able to write on the Tablet as well as showing PowerPoint slides during lecture.

Types of lectures

Four types of lectures were given to two sections of the course throughout the whole semester: Chalk-Board, PowerPoint only, PowerPoint with Chalk-Board, and PowerPoint with Tablet. The Chalk-Board lecture was the traditional lecturing method that instructors write class materials on the board. PowerPoint only lectures included only PowerPoint slides without using any other tools to facilitate teaching. PowerPoint with Chalk-Board lectures showed most teaching materials on PowerPoint slides with writing on the board to facilitate explanations of the materials. PowerPoint with Tablet lectures showed most of the materials on PowerPoint slides and the instructor explained the materials with writing on the slides using Tablet. Figure 2 provided an example of the lecture slide with the writings using Tablet.

Teaching Methods

A total of seventy students, thirty-seven from section one and thirty-three from section two, agreed to participant in this study. The course met three times a week for fifty minutes. The semester was approximately fifteen weeks long.

The instructor taught ten modules throughout the whole semester. The four lecture types were randomly assigned to two or three of those modules. Each module covered about one chapter of the textbook. The same lecture style was used for one entire module. The arrangements of types of lectures are: PowerPoint only lectures were applied to module 1, 2 and 5; Chalk-Board lectures were applied to module 3, 4 and 7; PowerPoint and Chalk-Board lectures were used in module 6 and 8; and the PowerPoint with Tablet lectures were used in module 9, 10 and 11. The lecture type arrangements were the same for both sections. Besides the different lecture types, there were no other pedagogical differences between modules.

Survey and quiz data collection

At the end of each module, a fifteen-minute quiz and a survey were given in class. The quiz for each module included multiple choice and short answer questions. The survey for each module was composed of two questions: “How much do you think you learned from the module?” and “Do you like the lecture style of the module?” Students rated how much they learned from a module using a 1-5 scale with 1 indicating a large amount of information, 2 indicating a fair amount of information, 3 indicating neutral, 4 indicating a small amount of information and 5 indicating nothing at all. Students also rated how much they like the presentation style of a module using a 1-5 scale with 1 indicating very much, 3 indicating neutral, and 5 indicating not at all.

At the end of the semester, a survey with three attitude questions were given to the students. Those questions are “Which one of the following lecture style do you like mostly?”, “You learned the best when using……”, and “Please write the pros and cons about using Tablet”. For the first two multiple choice questions, the four lecture styles were given as the options, listed as a) Chalk-Board, b) PowerPoint only, c) PowerPoint with Chalk-Board, and d) PowerPoint with Tablet.

Data analysis

Quiz scores were firstly converted to percentage for each student. Quiz grades were summarized for each type of lecture. Statistical measurements of mean, standard deviation and 95% confidence intervals of each lecture group were calculated. A 2 (section) by 2 (lecture style) analysis of variance (ANOVA) was performed to compare mean quiz grades among the four lecture types and between the two sections.

For each module survey, the survey responses were combined between the two sections for each lecture type. The responses for each question from each type of lecture were aggregated to find the mean evaluation of each lecture type. For example, the responses from the same student for all PowerPoint only lectures were averaged. The mean score below 3 was considered as positive opinion, and the average score above 3 was considered as negative opinion. The number of positive opinions and negative opinions were summarized for each lecture type. A Chi-square test of independence was performed to investigate whether the type of opinion is significantly associated with the lecture type. The percentage of positive and negative opinions were plotted for each lecture type.

For each of the two multiple choice questions of the end of semester survey, the number of preference of each lecture type was summarized for the two sections, and a Chi-square goodness-of-fit test was performed to see whether the four types of lecture were equally like preferred and whether students felt they learned equally among the four types of lectures.

We used an alpha level of 0.05 for all statistical tests. All the analyses were conducted using the IBM SPSS Statistics 24.0 software (IBM Corp. Armonk, NY).

Average quiz scores were compared among the four types of lectures. The 2 (type of lecture) by 2 (section) ANOVA showed a significant mean difference between the two sections (F(1,760)=5.44, p-value=0.02), a significant mean difference among the four types of lectures (F(3,760)=38.10, p-value.

Effects of Tablet Pcs on Students’ Learning in an Introductory Statistics Course essay

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