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Wednesday, June 18 • 11:00am - 12:30pm
PSD.08 – Meeting the Diverse Needs: Changing the Learning Experience in a First-Year Linear Algebra Course

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Linear Algebra I is a large course (>200 students) offered in a live format that is traditionally very challenging to teach due to a lack of motivation from a largely indifferent population of learners who are not in the mathematics, physics, or computer science program. Students’ wide spectrum of mathematical competency created the need for an alternative course model to accommodate their diversity. In this session, we will explain the strategies we implemented and share student feedback.

Two main course problems we identified were lack of motivation in mathematics and the inefficiency of large live lectures. As a result, one section of the course changed its format to reconstruct the learning environment and incorporate several motivational strategies. A blended course model was selected for the section, keeping the best of the live course experience (tutorials) while providing lectures and activities online. Following the Keller’s ARCS model for influencing learner’s motivation through major conditions, such as Attention (5-6 videos per lecture with each about 5 minutes long, high-quality instruction, frequent student engagement via mini problems in between lecture parts with immediate feedback), Relevance (providing access to applications such as simple computer games and apps that utilize Linear Algebra), Confidence (clearly stated lecture outcomes, opportunities for frequent self-evaluation without penalty, increasing difficulty with reasonable challenge, prerequisite material provided) and Satisfaction (frequent messages from the Instructor, praise for success on weekly quizzes, absence of threats), combined with weekly graded quizzes that students could take up to five times with the highest score recorded, created a safe learning environment that motivated students and accommodated diverse learning needs (including the closed captioning of all lectures  to accommodate ESL students, those with hearing impairment and everyone who prefers to read then to hear).

The goal of this project was not to create a learning environment that necessarily produced a superior course grade average than the live course; it was to create a more accessible, accommodating, functionally and visually appealing math learning experience that better suited the needs of a 21st century university student.


Kevin Cheung

Carleton University

Maristela Petrovic-Dzerdz

Carleton University

Wednesday June 18, 2014 11:00am - 12:30pm
A241/A242 Duncan McArthur Hall

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