Comparing Textbook Chapters and Adaptive Learning Lessons: Assessing Student Learning Motivation in the Earth Sciences

Wednesday 4:30pm-5:45pm Student Union: Ballroom B
Poster Session Part of Wednesday Session


E. Christa Farmer, Hofstra University
Adam Halpern, Hofstra University
Amy Catalano, Hofstra University
Do differences exist in how students feel about their learning experiences using an adaptive learning platform versus a traditional textbook? There is a gap in the literature comparing learning motivation between tools, despite expectations in the publishing industry that interactive adaptive online learning platforms will dominate learning in the future. We plan to assess students' learning motivation before and after completing assignments in an "Environmental Geology" course using both tools.

All (N= 24) students in a Fall 2017 GEOL005 course will be given a survey at the beginning of the course to assess their motivation to learn environmental geology. This survey will ask questions about content knowledge, based on the Geoscience Concept Inventory (Libarkin and Anderson 2005) and learning outcomes for sustainability education (Svanstrom et al. 2008). The survey will also determine how much prior experience students have with adaptive learning. During the semester, all students in the course will be assigned several homework assignments, including reading several traditional textbook chapters, in an electronic format, and completing several lessons on the adaptive learning platform, Smart Sparrow ( A second survey will be given at the end of the semester, which will re-assess content knowledge, and ask students several questions to gauge their learning motivation (as defined by Tseng and Walsh, 2016) for the various topics covered by the two modalities (textbook chapters as compared to Smart Sparrow lessons). These questions will assess students' level of motivation for each assignment: their attention to each assignment, their assessment of the relevance of each assignment, their identification of changes in their confidence after each assignment, and their degree of satisfaction with each modality.

Comparisons of initial survey results with those from surveys after assignments are completed will help answer the question: do adaptive learning software platforms increase student motivation for learning?