A Blended Learning Approach in Mathematics

A Blended Learning Approach in Mathematics

B. Abramovitz (ORT Braude College, Israel), M. Berezina (ORT Braude College, Israel), A. Berman (Technion Israel Institute of Technology, Israel) and L. Shvartsman (ORT Braude College, Israel)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-875-0.ch002
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In this chapter we present our work aimed at interweaving e-learning and face-to-face learning in Calculus courses for undergraduate engineering students. This type of blended learning (BL) contains the best properties of e-learning and face-to-face learning and helps overcome many obstacles in traditional teaching. We use our approach in order to improve students’ conceptual understanding of theorems. We describe online assignments specifically designed to help students better understand the meaning of a theorem. These assignments are given to students in addition to traditional lectures and tutorials with the objective that they can learn to learn on their own. Students “discover” the theorem and study it independently, by using a “bank” of examples and a lot of theoretical exercises we supply. The assignments are built in such a way that students receive feedback and instructions in response to their Web-based activity.
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We teach different Mathematics courses designed for engineering students. One of these courses is Calculus, which is an important part of the curriculum of most of the students in our university. Usually, this course consists of a four-hour weekly lecture (standard frontal teaching) and a two-hour weekly tutorial, plus homework assignments. Students take midterm and final pencil-and-paper exams.

In our teaching we encounter problems that are difficult to solve in a face-to-face teaching framework. Many of our students are not interested in Mathematics: they are not intending to specialize in it, and they see it as a necessary evil. Some students came from schools that aim to make Mathematics teaching as simple as possible, focusing on standard methods and paying little attention to students’ understanding of basic mathematical concepts. This problem is particularly acute when students begin to study Mathematics at university. Similar problems were mentioned in the paper of Naidoo & Naidoo (2007).

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