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  Feature Name: PDA Form
Author: Tim Zimmerman

Category: Inquiry Tools: Guided inquiry, Ubiquitous computing tools

Subject: NA

Kind: Element/Applet

 Elementary School
 Middle School
 High School
 Higher Education
 Teachers & Principals


Software URL: NA

Created by: Turadg AlehamedJames SlottaGregg PitterTimothy Zimmerman


This Feature is connected to (1) Principles
  • Model scientific thinking
    Feature in Visual Map
    PDA Forms were created for use with WISE projects that incorporate the functionality of handheld computers (e.g., Palm, PocketPC, etc.). The Forms are simply html, web designed pages that the students (or teacher) download onto the PDA (via Fling It, Avantgo or similar programs). These Forms are a way of allowing students to collect quantitative and qualitative data while away from their desktop computers. Students enter the data directly into the PDAs for later upload to the WISE server. The Forms scaffold the data collection process and the learning process by providing students with pre-designed prompts, multiple choice lists (see image 1 below), pictures of relevant objects (creatures, phenomena, etc.) (see image 2 below), hints, and opportunities for recording reflections on observations/experiences (see image 3 below). WISE project designers determine the number of Forms and the parameters for each prompt on the Forms, such as numeric data input, multiple choice, write in text. Once the data is collected, students sign the Form and it is saved in the PDA. Single students can fill out multiple Forms on the same PDA and multiple students can use the same PDA and their data will be recorded separately. Once the data is transferred to the WISE server, another Feature (PDA Data Analyzer) displays the data to the students in designer designated formats.
    The Rationale Behind the Feature (Specific Design Principle):
    Researchers have demonstrated knowledge construction during informal learning experiences (e.g., Anderson, Lucas, & Ginns, 2000) and have recognized the impact of well designed, structured materials used during visits to informal learning environments (Orion & Hofstein, 1994). In addition, reseach in classroom settings has demonstrated how the use of well designed technology tools can scaffold the learning science concepts (Linn & Hsi, 2000). Thus, the design of well structured technology tools that provide students with opportunities to engage in meanful learning activities while visiting and informal learning environment should allow for greater learning opportunities.
    Context of Use:
    PDA Forms can be used for many away from the desktop activities, both inside and outside the classroom. An in class example is the use of the PDA Forms that allow students to record the time it takes for students to become sick during a run of the Cooties disease transfer PDA application. In the classroom, students record data and take notes on how quickly they got sick, the whole class got sick and the number of vectors in each run. An example of a field trip use of PDA Forms is their use for collecting data on fish observations during a visit to an aquarium. In the instance, students are prompted to find particular fish species in the aquarium and record observations about anatomical adaptations (such as body shape, mouth location, tail shape, coloration, etc). During the data collection process, students are able to access hints to help guide students in the data collection process, tie classroom learning to their observations through prompted reflection opportunities (see image 2 below), and even use the pre-designed Field Guide (see image 3 below) to remind them of terms and anatomical features they encountered in the WISE project prior to the aquarium visit. A final, envisioned but not enacted, example would be the use of PDA Forms to conduct surveys. Students could survey classmates, schoolmates, even take the PDA home and survey their family members with the aid of PDA Forms. Virtually any data collection activity, quantitative or qualitative, would provide a context for the use of PDA Forms.
    Field-based Evidence:
    The WISE research group has performed several runs of PDA enabled WISE projects. While running the WISE Malaria project combined with using Cooties on the PDAs and PDA Forms for data collection, students were able to experience how the number of disease vectors almost log rhythmically affects disease transfer time. Using the WISE project on fish adaptation in conjunction with a visit to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Zimmerman (2003) noted that the use of the PDA Forms allowed students to quickly, efficiently and accurately (i.e., little human error) collect observational data on multiple fish species. The students were observed frequently using the available Field Guide, Hints and some took Reflection Notes to aid the learning opportunity provided by the aquarium visit.
    Anderson, D., Lucas K.B., Ginns, I.S., & Dierking, L.D. (2000). Development of knowledge about electricity and magnetism during a visit to a science museum and related post-visit activities. Science Education, 71, 658-679.

    Linn, M. C. & Hsi, S. (2000). Computer, Teachers, Peers: Science Learning Partners (pp. 460). Mahway, NJ: Erlbaum

    Orion, N., & Hofstein, A. (1994). Factors that influence learning during a scientific field trip in a natural environment. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 31, 1097-1119

    Image:(Click to enlarge)