Instructors: Bruce Duncan, Joan Campbell, German Department
Overview: For 30 years, Dartmouth students of German language have been writing much of their homework with the help of computers. Experience has shown us the efficacy of such drills when they are used to supplement regular classroom instruction and other, more playful activities. While some pedagogues disparage “drill-and-kill” activities, students do not experience these exercises as tedious; rather, they see them as providing a safe space in which to practice and even experiment with forms that must be mastered. Our task is to create a program in Java that permits German language students to do their written homework on either Mac or Windows machines. Students should be able to download the program and accompanying data files easily from a server onto their own Macs or Windows machines. They would also be able to download the program temporarily onto a public cluster machine when not using their own. Using GerDrill, a student could request any desired set of exercises, which would normally be geared to the textbook. Each set would consist of 1) instructions of any length; 2) a series of cues to which students would respond one at a time; 3) evaluation of that response by comparing it with stored correct answers; 4) acceptance or rejection of that response — acceptance would lead to the presentation of the next cue; rejection would mean a repeated presentation of the old cue.