Excellent Academic Results with Trinity’s iPad Pilot Group

Today the new February Main 2012 students of Trinity College Foundation Studies (TCFS) begin their orientation activities. A key component of their academic orientation will be the distribution of iPads for use in the classroom and for study at home, in the library, or wherever students happen to be inspired or pressed by an assessment deadline. As we prepare a new cohort to commence their academic program using iPads, it is worthwhile reflecting both on the effectiveness of Trinity’s original iPad Pilot Program and the rationale for extending iPad use to all TCFS students and academic staff.

Final academic results for the iPad Pilot Group within Trinity College Foundation Studies show that iPad students achieved the highest individual scores in the 2011 February Main cohort. The iPad students achieved higher average scores than their February Main classmates. The iPad students also did better on average than classmates from their home countries.

TCFS became one of the first institutions in the world to trial iPads in the classroom when forty-four August Extended students and their teachers received the devices for use across the curriculum starting in August 2010. The August Extended students joined the February Main course in February 2011, comprising approximately 10% of the total February Main cohort of 406 students. These students completed their foundation studies in December 2011, prepared for entry to university in 2012. A higher percentage of the iPad students achieved scores required for entry to the University of Melbourne than non-iPad students who were enrolled in the same February Main course.

Background to August Extended

The August Extended Program is a long-established and academically successful small course that runs from August to February, with graduates joining the large February Main Program to complete their foundation studies before entering university. August Extended students are generally younger than their classmates in February Main, having in most cases left school in their home country one year earlier to come to Australia. August Extended students enter Trinity with lower IELTS scores than direct-entry February Main students (5.5 compared to 6). August Extended students come overwhelmingly from two countries: China and Indonesia, but a small number come from other countries such as Vietnam.

From August to early February, August Extended students study English (including Literature and Drama), History of Ideas, Mathematics, and a range of electives depending on their course objectives (Science or Arts/Commerce). Once they join the larger group in February Main, August Extended students undertake the same range of subjects and have the same classroom contact hours as other students in the February Main Program.

Despite entering TCFS with one year less of formal study in their home country and lower IELTS scores than their February Main direct-entry classmates, August Extended students traditionally achieve slightly higher average final scores than their February Main classmates. This trend was especially pronounced for the iPad Pilot Group at the top range of academic scores.

At the very peak of the marks scale, the iPad Pilot Group achieved the highest scores ever for August Extended students.

The joint top students for the February Main 2011 Intake came from the August Extended iPad Group, both with a Best 4 Average of 99%. This is the first time that the joint dux students have come from August Extended. Previous highest scores for recent August Extended students include: 96% in 2006; 98% in 2007; 97% in 2008; and 95% in 2009. None of these earlier August Extended students were dux of February Main.

August Extended iPad Pilot students performed significantly better than the general February Main cohort in terms of outstanding academic scores.

Students with a Best 4 Average of 95% or above

iPad Students: 19%    All February Main: 7%

Students with a Best 4 Average of 90% or above

iPad Students: 42%    All February Main: 33%

Best 4 Average All Students

iPad Students: 86.6%    All February Main: 84.5%

August Extended iPad Pilot students also performed better than the cohort from their home country.

Final Best 4 Results by Nationality: iPad & Combined February Main

China (iPad): 86.88%    All China: 85.2%

Indonesia (iPad): 84.85%    All Indonesia: 84.5%

Vietnam (iPad): 92%    All Vietnam: 88.1%

The statistics by nationality are significant given that August Extended students comprised a reasonably large proportion of the relevant nationality intakes:
China: 21%   Indonesia: 28%   Vietnam: 23%

Comparison of iPad August Extended and non-iPad August Extended

Of all August Extended groups, the iPad cohort achieved the best marks at the very highest range (students achieving Best 4 Average grades of 99% or above).

The iPad Pilot Group achieved the second highest Best 4 Average score of all August Extended cohorts (86.6% compared to 88.87% for the 2007 cohort).

The iPad Pilot Group achieved much better top-range scores than the average of the previous six years for August Extended students with excellent results (95% or above).

Students with a Best 4 Average of 95% or above

2004 to 2009 Average for August Extended: 9.9%    2010 iPad Group: 19%

In a series of surveys, interviews, and meetings held with participants in the original iPad Pilot, TCFS students and staff overwhelmingly recommended iPad use to future students and all teachers. They reported good educational outcomes from iPad use, particularly in the four areas of active learning techniques, individualising content for students, real time access to information, and collaborative learning. With the release of final academic results for the Pilot Program students in December 2011, it is very pleasing to see that recommendations from students and staff, and their comments about the quality of the educational experience with iPads, have been reinforced by the data on academic achievement.

The 2010 iPad Group was the largest August Extended cohort up to that time. (It has since grown 50% in 2011 after the successful introduction of the iPad). Throughout 2011 TCFS deployed iPads to all academic staff, with related training and a second trial of iPads with students in August Extended 2011 and September Extended 2011. As a result of the successful trials of iPads in 2010 and 2011, TCFS has implemented a program for all TCFS students to receive iPads for use in their studies. From the start of 2012 all new students in every intake will be allocated an iPad during Orientation. Our aim in using iPads across the curriculum is to provide students with the opportunity to go further academically, to go faster, and to have more fun. So far, all signs are positive.

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