A Math E-Learning Course to Improve Pupils’ Performances

A Math E-Learning Course to Improve Pupils’ Performances

Sandro Gallea (Istituto Tecnico Commerciale Statale Libero Grassi, Italy) and Roberto Gallea (DICGIM Università degli Studi di Palermo, Italy)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-2122-0.ch066

Abstract

This chapter presents an e-learning teaching/learning activity to support the traditional activities at school. It was developed as a part of a P.O.R. project (Piano Operativo Regionale) of the Regione Sicilia for the Mathematics subject. The experiment was conducted at Libero Grassi school (Istituto Tecnico Commerciale Statale) in Palermo, Italy. The designated e-learning platform is the open source system, Moodle. The main purpose of the formative activity is to reduce students’ educational gap, which may generate “educational debits” at the end of the school year. If the students do not overcome these debits, they are not admitted to the next year. This activity took place during the second four-month term of the 2010/11 academic year. Results were excellent; no students had any educational debits. There was also an improvement in the students’ attitude towards the subject in the collaborative and cooperative approach between the students and the teacher. It was also positive for the rest of the class.
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Introduction

This e-learning platform has been used for a year in the Libero Grassi school based on the open source system Moodle. The main purpose is to introduce this new modality into the traditional one in the educational syllabus. At the moment the platform is mainly used as a mere repository, and poorly used as an active e-learning instrument. This is due not to the students, who do appreciate this didactic strategy, but to a lack of expertise and the diffidence that several teachers show using the new technologies and not due to the students, who have appreciated this didactic strategy. Last but not least, additional duty is required for teachers who are using the platform, without any economic or normative reward.

In order to bypass some of the problems described, a new project has been designed. It is totally online with the exception of the first meeting for the presentation of the activity where the procedures and the final tests are presented. The project involves students from a third level class (pupils of around sixteen years old) of the Institute, and uses most of the features of Moodle. This activity is also meant to be a reference for the teachers of the Institute in order to plan similar activities for other subjects.

Libero Grassi ITCS (Istituto Tecnico Commerciale Statale) of Palermo is situated in the northern periphery of the city. There are around 600 students from a mid socio-cultural level distributed in 30 classrooms. Around 25% percent of the students are from small towns to the west side of the city: Isola delle Femmine, Capaci, Carini, Torretta, Terrasini. Generally these students travel to the school using public transportation, which in the afternoon is less frequent, or suspended when remedial courses or extra curriculum lessons are taking place. Furthermore, in many cases, some students need to attend different didactic activities. To meet their needs, relieving them from many logistical problems, it was decided to set an e-Learning platform in the Institute to be used as a support to traditional activities, for remedial courses. In fact, through a platform of e-learning, content can be enjoyed at any time and any place where there is a connection to the network, expanding the boundaries of time and space and effectively nullifying the distances.

The experience described in this paper was in one third level class (3rd A), composed of twenty 16/17 years old students, five of whom were pupils repeating the school year. The group in terms of learning consisted of 7 very weak students, with low motivation and insufficient progress, a second group of 9 students with good motivation and sufficient progress, and a third group of 4 students with high motivation, a willing attitude toward the subject and with high progress (Table 1). The activity was financially supported by the Regione Sicilia, since it belongs to the P.O.R. (Piano Operativo Regionale) projects.

Table 1.
Class starting point. The mark six shows a sufficient evaluation on a scale from 1 to 10.
Vote%
4/535%
6/745%
≥820%
Average vote = 6,3

Key Terms in this Chapter

Istituto Tecnico Commerciale: It is a public upper secondary school where pupils study Italian, Maths, Foreign languages but overall subjects relevant to economics such as law and business administration.

E-Learning: The use of technology to enable people to learn anytime and anywhere.

Maths: This subject is studied for five years in ITCs.

Remedial Courses: An educational remedial program is a course consisting of extra class time offered to low-achieving students in order to improve their performance in one subject. Almost every school offers remedial courses.

Interactive: Typical feature of a non-defined system, it varies depending on the user’s input.

Piano Operativo Regionale (Operative Regional Plan): A document issued by Regione Sicilia in order to make use of the European Regional Development Funds.

Piano dell’Offerta Formativa: Represents the school identity card. It is an educational policy plan where the school points out its cultural-didactic inspiration, its curricula, projects, etc.

Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment (MOODLE): A free source e-learning software platform. It was developed to help educators create on line courses with a focus on interaction and collaborative construction of content.

Multimedia: A media and content that uses a combination of different content forms. Multimedia includes a combination of text, audio, still images, animation, video and interactive content forms.

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