Newly arrived migrant children face significant challenges when accessing or entering the educational system of the host country. One of the basic challenges is that their prior knowledge is only partially assessed, particularly in terms of their command of the host country language.
In the vast majority of cases, their command of the host country language is low and they are usually placed in grades which are lower than the educational level they had attained at their home countries and lower than their mental/ psychological situation.
The initiatives and interventions to support their language learning are numerous and significant, but little attention has been given to their existing knowledge in different thematic fields such as mathematics and science both in terms of initial assessment and educational support.
Placing these students in educational levels which are lower than their actual grade, with students who are sometimes much younger than them has a negative impact on their educational performance. Although the pattern varies by country, children with a migrant background show tendencies towards lower educational performance and are more likely to leave school early than their counterparts from a native background.
These results cannot be solely attributed to the lack of a thorough initial assessment, but it is certain that this lack is one of the significant factors of the future educational performance of these migrant students.
In the Classroom
Regarding the teachers who undertake the role of educating multicultural classrooms, evidence shows that they are not adequately prepared to fully address the learning needs of the newly arrived migrant students. Teachers do not feel well equipped to promote the inclusion of migrant students in the education system, starting from their assessment till their everyday work practices.
Research finds that teachers require a specific set of skills to support migrant pupils and that these are not necessarily easy to acquire through formal training. Often teachers were reported to have developed strategies ‘on the job’. Skills may include ensuring that pupils develop good relationships with their peers.
Teachers may also need to manage classes with a range of levels of English and prior attainment and to collaborate with language support staff. There is a need for Continuing Professional Development for teachers in schools with both large and small proportions of migrant pupils to ensure they have the knowledge and skills to provide teaching and support inside and outside the classroom.
There is clearly a need to assist both target groups in overcoming any language barriers and in promoting the teaching and learning experience by specific measures which could benefit them both. Augmented reality applications could be a key for a viable solution, due to the recorded positive effect on both students (especially from disadvantaged groups) and teachers.
Research has shown that student’s engagement is dropping each year and this is partially due to the focus educational institutions give on standardized modes of teaching and to the fact that students are often distracted by electronic devices, such as smartphones. Augmented Reality (AR) has proven to be a solution for making students more attentive and interested in the class because:
█ it provides better explanation of complex and abstract concepts through visualization
█ it provides a gamified approach towards learning, which makes the lessons fun
█ it promotes the development of practical knowledge
█ it is easily accessible and low- cost, since it already implements devices which students more or less already use.
AR has vast potential implications and numerous benefits for the augmentation of teaching and learning environments since it may:
- engage, stimulate, and motivate students to explore class materials from different angles;
- help teach subjects where students could not feasibly gain real-world first-hand experience;
- enhance collaboration between students and instructors and among students;
- foster student creativity and imagination;
- help students take control of their learning at their own pace and on their own path;
- create an authentic learning environment suitable for various learning styles.
Perhaps the most exciting benefit is students’ enthusiasm about using AR when learning. A high enthusiasm to engage with AR experiences is noted in many research studies where users report feeling higher satisfaction, having more fun, and being more willing to repeat the AR experience.
Finally, another benefit for using augmented reality in education is that, according to different studies, language barriers can be overcome, because it mainly uses images and because, if necessary, every possible language can be integrated into the Augmented Reality software.
The benefits of Augmented Reality
According to recent research the benefits of using augmented reality in educational environments can be summarized as follows:
█ increased motivation: users become more eager, interested, and engaged to deal with new technology as well as teaching and learning content compared to non-augmented reality methods
█ increased attention and concentration: this benefit is about the attention users pay to the technology and, thus, to the teaching and learning content.
█ increased satisfaction: increased satisfaction means that users experience higher satisfaction regarding the learning process or their educational progress.
█ increased student- centered learning: student-centered learning is a teaching concept in which conventional lectures are replaced by new active and self-paced learning programs. In student-centered learning approaches, students are more self-responsible for their own progress in education, and educators act as facilitators who enable the students to learn independently and individually.
█ improved collaborative learning: studies report that the AR applications improved collaborative learning by providing new ways of communication and cooperation.
█ increased information accessibility: AR applications can improve and ease the access to information regarding teaching and learning content.
█ improved memory: improved memory refers to the retention of knowledge acquired during the use of an AR application.
█ improved Learning Curve: An Improved Learning Curve effect refers to students learning faster and easier with AR applications compared to non-AR applications.
Research has also indicated the positive connection between augmented reality and educational inclusion of special groups of learners. The majority of studies generally includes students with different impairments (hearing, visual, motor or cognitive), minorities (ethnic, vulnerable), leaving aside other groups excluded, such as exceptional talents and immigrants. However, even in the case of these disadvantaged learners, the use of augmented reality in their educational process has significant positive results. Facilitation of interaction, greater motivation, commitment and a pleasant experience in the immersion of the educational process was among the ones mentioned the most, along with improvement in understanding and in acquiring specific skills, which otherwise would not have been developed. Studies point out that augmented reality favors inclusive education, even though certain limitations exist. One of the common limitations is the lack of digital skills among the teaching staff, which is required to have basic digital knowledge for adopting ICT and even more specialized skills for the creation of augmented content.
In order to meet the aforementioned challenges and problems of the target groups and filling the gap of the lack of evidence regarding the use of Augmented Reality for assessment, the Augmented Assessment project proposes the following good practices and innovations:
█ the systematic use of Augmented Assessment in Science and Mathematics education in order to assess students’ prior knowledge in Science and Mathematics.
█ the creation of the project’s library that will constitute a pool of assessment material and that will aim to create a database with augmented questions in the fields of Science and Mathematics.
█ the training of teachers in how to utilise the Augmented Assessment Library based on the principles of inclusive education.
█ the training of teachers in how to use immersive technologies for assessment.
█ the combination of multimodal assessment, creative assessment, visual representations and immersive technologies that will contribute to the implementation of inclusive assessment in the fields of Science and Mathematics.
█ the creation of detailed methodological guidelines (WP1) about the theoretical and practical aspects of the project’s approach towards the implementation of inclusive augmented assessment with the utilisation of immersive technologies in the field of Science and Mathematics Education.
█ the design of a curriculum that will focus on student-centred assessment and through its modules will reflect that respect towards diversity should be present in every aspect of education including assessment.
Based on the aforementioned analysis, the use of augmented assessment materials for newly arrived migrants in the fields of Mathematics and Science will facilitate their integration in the relevant grade, thus promoting their inclusion in a school environment.