Diagnostic Learning: Using web-based self diagnostic tools for learning abstract concepts in data network education

Salleh, Ethan A., Winslett, Greg M., Bruce, Christine S., & Tickle, Alan B. (2005) Diagnostic Learning: Using web-based self diagnostic tools for learning abstract concepts in data network education. In OLT 2005 conference, 27th Sptember, Brisbane, Australia.


Subjects such as data networking rely heavily on a ‘building block’ approach – deep understanding of the simpler concepts are essential if the learner is to be able to appreciate the more complex and abstract concepts upon which data communication protocols are built. For this reason, students’ levels of anxiety could increase if the earlier concepts are not grasped adequately – thereby discouraging future engagement with the subject.

This paper describes the historical background to teaching data networks, including feedback and reflection opportunities provided to students via a suite of dynamic, web-based tutorials in a QUT subject. These tutorials utilise context sensitive help screens to aid students’ self-diagnosis of their understanding of the subject material. It reports a preliminary investigation into (i) variation in students’ learning of abstract concepts (ii) what strategies are employed by learners in their effective use of a formative web-based tutorial, (iii) variation in learning outcomes from use of the tutorial. The results indicate that students focus on the parts of networks, and not the holistic picture. They also do not focus on how the network functions. We suggest that these results indicate that new ways of using technology in learning should be pursued as well as a deeper understanding of students’ learning outcomes.

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ID Code: 2148
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Abstract concepts, Students’ perceptions, Formative assessment, Feedback, Reflection, Data communications teaching and learning, Online learning, HERN
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > SPECIALIST STUDIES IN EDUCATION (130300) > Educational Technology and Computing (130306)
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Science and Technology
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2005 (please consult author)
Deposited On: 25 Oct 2005 00:00
Last Modified: 29 Feb 2012 13:11

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