Evaluating the Acceptability and Usability of EASEL: A Mobile Application that Supports Guided Reflection for Experiential Learning Activities

Jerry C Schnepp, Christian B Rogers
Journal of Information Technology Education: Innovations in Practice  •  Volume 16  •  2017  •  pp. 195-214

To examine the early perceptions (acceptability) and usability of EASEL (Education through Application-Supported Experiential Learning), a mobile platform that delivers reflection prompts and content before, during, and after an experiential learning activity.

Experiential learning is an active learning approach in which students learn by doing and by reflecting on the experience. This approach to teaching is often used in disciplines such as humanities, business, and medicine. Reflection before, during, and after an experience allows the student to analyze what they learn and why it is important, which is vital in helping them to understand the relevance of the experience. A just-in-time tool (EASEL) was needed to facilitate this.

To inform the development of a mobile application that facilitates real-time guided reflection and to determine the relevant feature set, we conducted a needs analysis with both students and faculty members. Data collected during this stage of the evaluation helped guide the creation of a prototype. The user experience of the prototype and interface interactions were evaluated during the usability phase of the evaluation study.

Both the needs analysis and usability assessment provided justification for continued development of EASEL as well as insight that guides current development.

The interaction design of EASEL is understandable and usable. Both students and teachers value an application that facilitates real-time guided reflection.

The use of a system such as EASEL can leverage time and location-based services to support students in field experiences. This technology aligns with evidence that guided reflection provides opportunities for metacognition.

Iterative prototyping, testing, and refinement can lead to a deliberate and effective app development process.

The EASEL platform leverages inherent functionality of mobile devices, such as GPS and persistent network connectivity, to adapt reflection tasks based on lo-cation or time. Students using EASEL will engage in guided reflection, which leads to metacognition and can help instructors scaffold learning

We will continue to advance the application through iterative testing and development. When ready, the application will be vetted in larger studies across varied disciplines and contexts.

experiential learning, mobile devices, smartphones, technology, application supported learning, reflection, metacognition
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