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App to improve students' academic performance
August 20, 2017, 11:51 am

According to a study conducted in Australia, a new mobile phone app that uses game elements such as leaderboards and digital badges could have positive effects on the academic performance, engagement and retention of students.

Researchers at Swinburne University of Technology, Australia developed a fully customizable app that allowed lecturers to push quizzes based on course content directly to their students' mobile devices in order to motivate them, increase their competitiveness, and keep them engaged with the course.

The researchers found that the app users on average achieved marks that were a little over seven percent higher compared to students who chose not to use the app. When the app was first introduced in the 2nd semester of 2015, student retention improved by just over 12 percent compared with the previous semester.

The research team at Swinburne developed their app to achieve multiple goals, including improving engagement and measuring academic performance, by including multiple-choice quizzes, push notifications, digital leaderboards and badges. Evidence-based research into student engagement shows that well-engaged students are less likely to drop out of college.

To prompt students to test their knowledge of the concepts introduced during a course, the app delivered quizzes directly to the students' mobile devices. Push notifications alerted students each time a new quiz became available. Based on app engagement, various data was collected through the app's analytics function, such as the speed at which students responded to quiz prompts and the number of attempts it took them to get an answer right. For each correct answer, students were assigned points which were collected in a leaderboard, which allowed students to see how they are performing compared to their peers.

Taking advantage of mobile app technologies in this way could help personalize education by tailoring course content to suit the specific capability of students. It would also enable lecturers to reach out and interact with their students and keep them interested in the course content.

The researchers caution that while they observed a positive correlation between students' scoring highly on the app and achieving higher academic grades, any causal relationship between the two needs further investigation.

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