Learning Analytics | News

Profs Develop Web-Based Literacy Assessment System

Three education professors, Simon Hooper from Penn State, and Charles Miller and Susan Rose from the University of Minnesota (U of M), are building a Web-based learning analytics system that aims to help improve assessment, feedback, and progress-monitoring of literacy education for students in grades 1-8.

The system, named AvenueDHH (Audio-Visual Educational Environments for Deaf or Hard of Hearing) was originally designed to monitor the literacy performance of deaf or hard of hearing students over time for the purpose of personalizing instruction. Currently, the system can handle only a few users, but the researchers have received funding for a nation-wide implementation that could support hundreds or thousands of concurrent users. Usability testing of the system has begun, and the researchers are considering how to generalize the system for a mainstream student population.

The software has separate interfaces for students and teachers. The teacher interface supports managing students, grading assessments, and viewing performance charts, while the student interface includes seven categories of assessment tasks, including picture naming, photo description, word slash tests, redesigned MAZE passages, signed or oral reading, story retell, and story completion, according to information on the U of M site. Word slash tests present text passages in uppercase with the spaces between the words removed, and students have to click between the words to insert word breaks. MAZE tests remove every seventh word from a text passage, and students must select the missing word from a list of options. The researchers have introduced gaming features into the design in an effort to be innovative and "move away from traditional ways of doing things," according to Hooper.

The researchers have conducted classroom feasibility analyses and are now ready to conduct usability testing and implementation research. They will conduct a technological overhaul of the system, investigate options for data visualization for both teachers and students, and conduct a longitudinal study to examine the validity, reliability, and impact of the e-assessment system in K-8 classrooms, according to information from Penn State.

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