Mobile Contextual Data for Hands-On Learning

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


This thesis investigates whether the use of hand-held technology affects motivation and learning in science. An innovative mixed methods approach was used to provide new insights into an emerging area of research. First, two pilot observational studies were conducted, which aimed to establish how a school currently uses hand held dataloggers, and gain further insight into how learners respond to this technology. This was followed by a primarily quantitative experiment that was concerned with the role of data ownership and the impact of ‘seams’ on the transformation process of the collected data. The results indicated that a hands-on experience increased confidence among students in explaining their own data, as opposed to data collected by someone else. A third study was designed to compare how student motivation and learning were affected when carrying out the same inquiry task either with or without the support of dataloggers. The results revealed no difference in accuracy or motivation for learning. The final, fourth, study was a longitudinal study designed in collaboration with a secondary science teacher, comparing three conditions: the inclusion of cameras to support student reflection, the inclusion of both cameras and the use of dataloggers to support teaching, and a control condition where the lessons were not changed. This study found that inclusion of dataloggers into modules led to increased assessment scores, while the use of cameras indicated that students are adept at taking relevant photos, and did not suffer from an extensive novelty effect. The results highlighted the importance of using a range of methods and tools for teaching students. The thesis concludes with recommendations and future research ideas, including exploring how data is visualised and the role of physical context. Of key importance is that future work is conducted in collaboration with educators in the wild.
Date of Award15 Nov 2013
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SponsorsGreat Western Research
SupervisorDanae Stanton Fraser (Supervisor), Dawn Woodgate (Supervisor), Mike Fraser (Supervisor) & D Crellin (Supervisor)


  • learning
  • education
  • mobile Learning
  • technology
  • hand held
  • context awareness

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