You Can Lead a Horse to Water: How Students Really Use Pedagogical Software

L. Stern, S. Markham, and R. Hanewald

ITiCSE05: Proceedings of the Ninth Annual SIGCSE/SIGCUE Conference on Innovation and Technology in Computer Science Education, ACM Press, 2005.

A great deal of effort is expended creating multimedia systems to help students learn. Some amount of effort is spent evaluating learning outcomes for students who have used these systems. Yet very little effort is spent examining how students actually use the software or how learning outcomes are related to system design. In a study involving direct observation of university students as they used pedagogical software, it was found that students develop their own strategies for learning with software and that these strategies are not necessarily those predicted by software designers and educators. Systematic field observation led to a more comprehensive view of how students were interacting with the software.