CATALYST: Technology-assisted Collaborative & Experiential Learning for School Students

Overview : In this project we conceptualized a learning framework called CATALYST that combines technology enhanced learning, peer learning,collaborative and cooperative learning along with classroom-based teaching in the context of teaching a tenth grade science concept of the Doppler Effect. An experiential application is part of framwork, which uses real-world artifacts to create curiosity among students just before the actual classroom teaching. These applications are interactive and exploratory in nature and give the students an opportunity to try and understand new concepts themselves. Various qualitative and quantitative user studies were conducted to compare the efficacy of the proposed CATALYST framework with the traditional classroom teaching.


Purpose : A design and research project in collaboration with Xerox Research Centre India (XRCI)

Keywords : Technology-lean environment, Experiential learning, Peer learning, Doppler Effect, Technology Enabled Learning (TEL)

Publication : (Link)  In proceedings of 17th HCI International 2015, Los Angeles,  (Category full paper)

Team Members : Soumya Tiwari, Utkarsh Mishra  

Guides :  Dr. Ravi Mokashi Punekar, Mr. Keyur Sorathia, Dr. Kuldeep Yadav and Dr. Om Deshmukh

Questions we wanted to answer !

Specifically, we aim to answer following questions:
1. What is the impact of the CATALYST approach on student learning when compared to the traditional teaching, especially the low performing students?

2. How does student engagement and curiosity vary across the two approaches?
3. What are the observed barriers in peer learning in an Indian classroom scenario and does the proposed CATALYST framework help in enhancing peer collaboration as well as learning?


Catalyst Framework

1. An interactive and explorative application is a part of the proposed framework that gives the students an opportunity to explore and learn the concept themselves. For ex- ample: an experiential learning application for the Doppler Effect (Fig-2, left) gives the students flexibility to change the various parameters like velocity, frequency, wave- length and amplitude of the source, the velocity of the source and observer to get ap- propriate audio-visual feedback.

CATALYST has following four important stages:
(a) Explore and learn: a group of three students explores the application collectively on a single device and change various parameters to get audio-visual feedback;
(b) Documentation: students discuss and write what they observe, this phase also helps students to channelize their exploration of the application with clearly stated objectives.
(c) Teaching: the teacher explains the scientific reasoning behind the concept, and
(d) Group activity: students perform a group activity with clearly stated individual subtasks

Experiment Design
Experiment Group
Control Group
Task Flow
Results & Analyses

Quantitative Analyses and Statistical Inferences

Basics of souns : For the quiz related to basic of sound where control and experiment groups were treated exactly the same. Two tailed t-Test with 5% alpha-level revealed that the average marks of all participants in control group (traditional approach) was not significantly different from average marks of all participants in experiment group (CATALYST approach) (p = 0.71) (Table 1).

Doppler Effect : The second question to answer is whether CATALYST framework helps in improving the learnability of the students as compared to traditional classroom teaching. To determine this average score of participants in objective quiz based on Doppler Effect was compared for both the approaches. Two tailed t-Test with 5% alpha level revealed that the average scores of participants taught through CATALYST framework was significantly higher than average score of participants taught through traditional approach (p = 0.013) (Table 2). 

Average score of high performing (HP), average performing (AP) and low performing (LP) students in quizzes based on the basics of sound (Feft) and the Doppler Effect (right) 

Inferences from the graph:

Comparative performance of students : The third question we would like to answer is whether the proposed CATALYST approach leads to uniform change in performance across all the students or if the change is dependent on the grade performance of the students. To answer this, the above graphs compares the average performance of HP, AP and LP students in traditional class- room setup and the CATALYST set up.

Several interesting inferences can be drawn from this figure:
a) The high-performers perform better than the low and average performers in both the approaches
b) On the bases of the marks obtained by the students in the quiz the proposed CATALYST approach outperforms the traditional classroom setup
c) The improvement in performance due to the proposed CATALYST approach is more pronounced for low-performers.