Special App Helps College Students Get Better Grades

A mobile learning app developed in Australia might have positive effects on student academic performance, engagement and retention.

Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor

Melbourne, Australia (4E) – A mobile learning app developed in Australia might have positive effects on student academic performance, engagement and retention.

Researchers at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia developed a fully customizable app that allowed lecturers to push quizzes based on course content directly to their students’ devices.

The app helps motivate students; increases their competitiveness and keep them engaged with the course, according to a study published in the open access, International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education.

Researchers found a positive correlation between performing well on app tasks and achieving higher academic grades.

App users on average achieved marks that were 7.03 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 over 12 percent compared to the previous semester. A total of 394 students were recruited to test the app.

“Evidence-based research into student engagement tells us that well-engaged students are less likely to drop out,” said Dr. Ekaterina Pechenkina, the corresponding author.

“Our results imply that students are willing to use learning apps and that performing highly on the app may predict their future academic success.”

The app delivered quizzes directly to the students’ mobile devices to prompt students to test their knowledge of the concepts introduced during a course. Push notifications alerted students each time a new quiz became available.

The study authors , however, point out that the initial success of the app might have been partly due to the novelty effect, which could mean the app’s perceived usefulness might decline with longer-term use.

The fact students could choose to use the app may have led to sampling bias, as more conscientious students open to new experiences might have been more likely to be included in the experiment.

The authors said 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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