Effectiveness of mobile apps in teaching field-based identification skills

Rebecca L. Thomas, Mark D. E. Fellowes
2016 Journal of Biological Education  
24 It has been suggested that few students graduate with the skills required for many ecological careers, 25 as field-based learning is said to be in decline in academic institutions. Here, we asked if mobile 26 technology could improve field-based learning, using ability to identify birds as the study metric. We 27 divided a class of ninety-one undergraduate students into two groups for field-based sessions where 28 they were taught bird identification skills. The first group has access to a
more » ... aditional identification 29 book and the second group were provided with an identification app. We found no difference between 30 the groups in the ability of students to identify birds after three field sessions. Furthermore, we found 31 that students using the traditional book were significantly more likely to identify novel species. 32 Therefore, we find no evidence that mobile technology improved students' ability to retain what they 33 experienced in the field; indeed, there is evidence that traditional field guides were more useful to 34 students as they attempted to identify new species. Nevertheless, students felt positively about using 35 their own smartphone devices for learning, highlighting that while apps did not lead to an 36 improvement in bird identification ability, they gave greater accessibility to relevant information 37 outside allocated teaching times. 38
doi:10.1080/00219266.2016.1177573 fatcat:etpdk3aginhcpdcyanxvlemism