Student Experience on Distance Learning in Mathematics in Times of Pandemic

Student Experience on Distance Learning in Mathematics in Times of Pandemic

Vanessa Izquierdo-Álvarez, Raúl Herrero-Pascual
Copyright: © 2023 |Pages: 19
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-6684-6071-9.ch012
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The educational changes brought about by the global pandemic caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus have generated new scenarios for students around the world. The vast majority of teachers in both non-university and university education have adapted their traditional classes to continue the teaching and learning process. This text presents the learning experience of students of compulsory secondary education in Spain in the subject of mathematics. The research carried out analyzes the students' perceptions in different dimensions such as their experience with the educational materials and the tasks or the technology used to achieve the learning objectives. The collection of information was carried out during the third quarter of the 2019/2020 academic year. The most outstanding results indicate that students mostly perceived the distance learning experience as positive.
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The global pandemic caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, better known as COVID-19, led to the confinement of millions of people around the world, causing unprecedented paralysis at all levels in cities. This worldwide event generated a chain effect never before experienced by the population. In Spain, measures were decreed to control the freedom of citizens, even ordering the confinement of the population in their homes. In addition, educational systems around the world were blocked, generating an unknown impact on students worldwide. So that almost 70% of students suffered the cessation of their regular academic activities. This situation led to the decline of face-to-face training methodologies, giving way to an approach centered on virtual learning environments. The various countries adopted educational measures in response to the emergency situation. In Spain, a Royal Decree 463/2020 was published declaring a state of alarm (Chen et al., 2020; Geldsetzer, 2020; Sivakumar, 2020), suspending face-to-face activities at all educational levels, affecting the whole territory and automatically transforming the usual face-to-face training to distance and online educational scenarios (Government of Spain, 2020a, 2020b). In a very short period of time it was necessary to structure a new educational system for 10 million students, 8.5 of them belonging to non-university education (Diez & Gajardo, 2020). In this sense, as is well known, virtual training offers multiple advantages for training from anywhere in the world. So that at this time of global crisis it supposed a suitable option to continue with training activities and keep teachers and students connected through platforms for the management of learning and educational content. García Aretio (2017), argues that there is “proven quality and effectiveness of distance and virtual educational systems, provided that they act with rigorous criteria” (p. 12). In addition, diverse literature can be found pointing out the benefits of this type of training (Appana, 2008; Arkorful & Abaidoo, 2015; Bramble & Panda, 2008; Carey & Trick, 2013; Ekren & Kumtepe, 2016; García Aretio, 1994, 2001, 2009; Guri-Rosenblit, 2009; Howard, Schenk & Discenza, 2004; Moore, 2013; Sun et al., 2008). Online training is created thanks to planning and the correct use of good instructional design models (Adedoyin & Soykan, 2020). In this sense, the studies that are being carried out on online learning offer clues for those responsible for managing public policies (Batdi et al., 2021). Some authors point out that the learning satisfaction presented by students is closely related to the positive experience with the training platform, motivation or their level of digital competence (Kovacević, 2021). Baber (2020) points out some elements that follow directly on student satisfaction such as interaction, motivation, organization of content and activities on the platform or the skill of the teacher. According to Hongsuchon et al. (2022) “the effectiveness of online learning depends on many factors, including the self-efficacy, attitudes and confidence of the student and the instructor in the use of the technology involved; the educational strategies used; the ability to monitor and evaluate educational outcomes; and student motivation, among many others.” (p. 1). However, virtual or distance learning also has certain disadvantages, some of the problems we faced were the digital divide, access to the network or the availability of devices in both students and teachers. According to García-Peñalvo (2020) we can speak of three types of gap: the access gap, which refers to access to technological devices (computers or cell phones) and Internet access; the use gap, which refers to the possibility of having sufficient material resources for learning; or the competence gap, which refers to the digital competence necessary for the person or student to be able to use technology for the learning process. In order to organize the training of students, it is necessary to make use of virtual training platforms or Learning Management Systems (LMS) that serve as learning management systems (Cabero et al., 2020), as well as to rethink the pedagogical strategies present in the teaching and learning processes (Izquierdo, 2020). Crawford and Wiest (2012) point out the importance of organizing effective online instruction considering course design, student interaction as well as teacher support. That is why this type of learning requires more hours of preparation by the teacher and more availability to serve students (Crawford & Wiest, 2012; Grabriel, 2008; Grosse, 2004). Other challenges are related to the inadequate training of teachers but also of students (Moustakas, 2022). Likewise, this new educational scenario implies addressing other challenges for teachers, such as knowledge of virtual learning environments, content generation or student assessment (Izquierdo-Álvarez & Pinto-Llorente, 2021). In addition, some authors point out that in order to adequately teach knowledge, the teacher must possess three types of knowledge: knowledge of the content of the subject, pedagogical knowledge about the content, and knowledge of the curriculum (Shulman, 1986).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Learning Management Systems (LMS): Technology platform for online or hybrid learning.

Mathematics: Basic instrumental subject present in secondary education. It is a subject with a double objective: instrumental and formative to develop the intellectual capacity of students.

Learning Tools: Resources used for pedagogical purposes that facilitate learning, for example, communication tools or learning assessment tools.

E-Learning: A type of online teaching that is carried out through a virtual learning environment. In this technological environment, materials, live classes, assignments, etc. are provided.

COVID-19: An infectious disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the origin of which was first identified in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. It is a virus that has spread rapidly around the world, generating a global health issue.

Secondary Education: The name given to secondary education, a stage after primary education in formal education that occurs before higher education.

Hybrid Learning: A type of blended learning that combines face-to-face and online sessions. Also called blended learning.

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