AuthorsA. Karahasanovic
TitleThink-Aloud Tool As a Means for Getting Insights Into Learning Object-Oriented Concepts
Publication TypeTalks, contributed
Year of Publication2003
Location of TalkExtended abstract, Workshop on Learning and Teaching Object-Orientation -- Scandinavian Perspectives

The increasing need for getting insights into learning object-oriented concepts raises the challenge of adequate methods and tools for data collection. We have developed a tool, called the think-aloud tool (Karahasanovic et al., 2003), to support the think-aloud method in a variety of studies with large number of subjects. This tool instructs the subjects at regular intervals to write down their thoughts on a web based screen, as opposed to the oral expression of thoughts in conventional think-aloud method. The tool collects the subjects' feedback together with timestamps. Whereas we have experience with the think-aloud tool in software engineering experiments, there is also potential for using such a tool in studies exploring how well the students understand the object-oriented concepts. We believe that the tool is particularly useful for collecting qualitative data about subjects in large-scale studies. Comments collected by the think-aloud tool may help us to identify problems that students have in understanding object-oriented concepts. They may also help us to get insight into learning processes. However, the think-aloud tool provides a less complete picture of learning activities than does the think-aloud method with a human observer and should therefore be used as complementary to other data collection methods or in explorative phases of a study. The think-aloud tool may also affect the student's task-related understanding and problem solving. As writing comments on the think-aloud screen demands explanations and reflections it may improve student's learning and understanding. We plan to conduct an experiment designed to investigate usefulness of the think-aloud tool as a mean for getting insight into learning activities. 56 third year students of Oslo College will be asked to conduct change task on a medium-size Java application (6000 LOC). The students will be divided into four groups. Assignment to the respective groups will be done at random. The first group will be asked to think aloud, the second to give immediate retrospective reports, the third to use the think-aloud tool and the fourth to work without giving feedback - the silent condition. For the third group, the think-aloud screen will appear every 15 minutes with the text “What are you thinking now?” The subjects will be instructed to describe what they were thinking just before the screen appeared. The time available for writing comments will be limited to two minutes. The experiment will last six hours and data will be collected by the think-aloud tool and the classical think-aloud method. The students will be interviewed after the experiment.

Citation KeySE.7.Karahasanovic.2003