Interactive Math Learning for STEM Students

Yonghui Wang, Jian-ao Lian, Yonggao Yang
2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition Proceedings   unpublished
The rapid development of computer and information technology impacts almost every aspect of our daily lives. It has been witnessed that the microprocessor changes from 8-bit to 64-bit and the display from monochrome monitors to millions of colors LED screens. Educators have also enjoyed the benefits on improved pedagogy in teaching STEM courses by integrating both the computer technology and up-to-date research results into the classrooms. However, the teaching of college level STEM obligatory
more » ... el STEM obligatory math courses does not keep pace with the rapid development of the computer and information technology. To better prepare STEM students' math training still remains a challenge. Another simple reality is that today's college students are grown up in a multimedia world and they are enthusiasts of internet, video games, iPhones and iPads, MySpace, facebook, etc., even way before they enter colleges. This makes the math learning less attractive which further affects the enrollment and retention rate of every STEM program. To address this issue, a group of faculty members with multidisciplinary background have investigated the teaching of the traditional math courses unconventionally. In addition to the traditional blackboard-textbook teaching, we integrate new teaching approaches that allow students to learn math concepts by interactively working with specially designed math teaching and learning modules. Our attention is focused on building learning modules for entry level college math courses, such as College Algebra and Calculus I. For each course a certain amount of time will be set aside for students to reinforce the concepts they just learned during the normal lecture time. The learning modules are designed to be user friendly in order to attract students' attention to math learning instead of texting in classrooms. The benefits of this pedagogy include: 1) interactive modules make students actively involved in the math learning process; 2) the unlimited randomly generated questions and examples give students more opportunities on practicing and reinforcing the concepts they just learned; 3) the quick answer checking function helps students build confidence by immediately identifying their learning progress; and 4) the mobility of the modules ensures that students can learn and practice their math concepts any time anywhere with their laptop PC. Vizard-a popular virtual reality programming environment-is chosen to design the course teaching modules to make the math learning full of fun. In this project, faculty members developed new interactive teaching and learning modules and introduced them into the corresponding college math classes. Preliminary results on STEM students' opinion were obtained and obstacles were discussed. Based on feedbacks of our preliminary exploit, we will further improve our current teaching and learning modules and develop more modules to enhance STEM students' math learning.
doi:10.18260/1-2--21582 fatcat:nsadx3ypj5enho2u77acmh7b6a