Mobile learning ontologies : supporting abductive inquiry-based learning in the sciences : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Information Technology at Massey University, Albany, Auckland, New Zealand

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Massey University
The use of ontologies has become increasingly widespread in many application areas, particularly in technology-enhanced learning. They appear promising in supporting the generation and adaptive presentation of learning content for specific domains. This thesis examines how ontologies can be applied in abductive mobile science inquiry-based learning, an example of a learning activity that can allow students to learn science by doing science. Traditionally, school science education has been dominated by deductive and inductive forms of inquiry investigations, while the abductive form of inquiry investigation has previously been sparsely explored in the literature, which emphasizes the development of scientific hypotheses from observed phenomena. Thus, this provides us with an opportunity to explore some new approaches to technology-assisted learning in the sciences. The main purpose of this thesis is to demonstrate to science educators how an abductive mobile application may be applied in a science inquiry activity, and how ontology-based scaffolding can support technology-enhanced learning environments. This thesis uses a Design Science Research Methodology (DSRM), supported by Activity-Oriented Design Methods (AODM) tools to create an ontology-driven application ‘ThinknLearn’ for a science inquiry domain, which has been evaluated using the M3 evaluation framework with high school science students. The results were promising and showed improvements in the students’ understanding of the learning domain as well as developing their positive attitudes towards mobile learning.
Mobile communication systems in education, Inquiry-based learning, Science, Study and teaching (Secondary)