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NEWTON Project team, leading the 'Earth Course' pilot in Northside Dublin schools

DCU team employs innovative solutions to improve STEM education

The EU Horizon 2020 project NEWTON coordinated by Assoc. Prof. Gabriel-Miro Muntean and managed by Dr Diana Bogusevshi of DCU’s School of Electronic Engineering has organised two 8-week large-scale pilots, Earth Course, earlier this year in St. Patrick’s Boys National School (BNS) and Corpus Christi Girls National School (GNS), Dublin.

They involved educational Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) classes on four major Earth science sub-topics: Atmosphere and Chemistry, Biosphere, Geosphere and Astronomy.

Various applications developed by NEWTON Consortium Partners were employed.

SIVECO developed Virtual Reality and Virtual Laboratories: Wildlife on terrestrial animals,

Sea-life on aquatic animals and Physics specifying on the natural water cycle and precipitation formation. NCI developed an interactive educational computer-based video game,

Final Frontier focusing on rocky and gas planets. STUBA developed the Geography Blind Globe application, focusing on educational content on the UK and Republic of Ireland.

Over 100 fifth class students in the two primary schools participated in this pilot (60 in St. Patrick’s BNS and 57 in Corpus Christi GNS).

All the deployed applications were stored on the NEWTON project learning management platform, NEWTELP.

Preliminary result analysis shows how the NEWTON technologies benefited learners’ Motivation, Affective State and Knowledge Acquisition as well as investigating the Usability of the NEWTON approach.

This confirms that NEWTON technologies provide very positive results in Motivation and Affective State, as around 70% of participating students found the Earth Course interesting and over 80% of experimental class students would like to use similar lessons in other science classes.

Students were extremely positive about the use of technology in the classroom with an average of around 75% reporting to preferring to use more technology in STEM subjects, seeing it as a supporting tool for their teacher. 90% of participating experimental class learners found the NEWTON lessons easy to use with the majority enjoying most of the applications and technologies employed.

Some of the quotes for students’ feedback include: “I really enjoyed and thank you”, “I am sad that this is our last lesson but I did really enjoy from the very first lesson”, “I really like it and thank you NEWTON for making me more interested in nature science and maths” and “I really enjoyed NEWTON and hope to continue with it in 6th Class”.

Participating teachers expressed their positive attitude for the NEWTON approach, being open to employing it in the future, subject to school infrastructure.  Knowledge-wise, it is shown that NEWTON approach lessons benefited learners, showing knowledge gains of up to 50% for some applications, with a slight advantage for its employment as a revision tool, rather than an introductory tool. 

Assoc. Prof. Gabriel-Miro Muntean highlighted that these pilots are just two in a series of over 30 other NEWTON pilots run across Europe, including additional instances of the Earth Course large-scale pilot to be run in Belvedere College in Dublin with secondary school boys and in St Maria School in Romania, with learners with special educational needs.

In particular, he mentioned the Programming large-scale pilot instances which focused on deployment of NEWTON game-based learning, gamification and adaptive multimedia content delivery which run part of the Software Development modules in DCU School of Electronic Engineering and National College of Ireland School of Computing and in which excellent learner satisfaction was achieved.

12th October, 2018