Findings when converting a summative evaluation instrument to a formative one through collaborative learning activities
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Although illiteracy has been in constant decline over the last decades,there are too many reports about people having problems to identify the mainideas contained in texts they read. Reading comprehension is essential for stu-dents, because it is a predictor of their academic or professional success.Researchers have developed computer supported learning activities for sup-porting students develop their reading comprehension skills with varying degreesof success. One of the various advantages of having students work on electronicdocuments is that computers can help teachers monitor students’work. One ofthe problems of these systems is poor usability due to sophisticated human-computer interaction paradigms emulating activities students perform in tradi-tional learning activities for improving reading comprehension with pen andpaper. In this paper we report on a research which implements a learning activitybased on answers with multiple choice similar to a questionnaire, which is easy toimplement in computers and easy to interact with. Although multiple choicequestionnaires are associated to summative evaluations, the implementedlearning activity uses them within a collaborative learning activity in whichstudents have to justify,first individually then collaboratively, their choice with ashort text. The developed system was used and evaluated in a real learningsituation; one of the most interestingfindings is not only that students who haveto justify their option with a text perform better than those who have not, but thatthe pertinence of the text to the question does not play a major role. This suggeststhat just asking the students to justify their answers requires them to do a thinkingprocess which otherwise they would not do.
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