Acing Algebra:
 An Online Case Study
MERLOT International Conference
           (MIC09)
       August 13-16, 2009

       ...
Opening Up Online
• Silent/shy students express themselves
  – LMS: Moodle
  – Discussion Forum / Blog
  – Misgivings abou...
Initial Evaluation
• 1/3 students did not meet prerequisites
  – Difficulties with basics
     •   Subtraction
     •   Or...
Teacher Adjustments
• Time spent to reinforce basics
  – Consequence: “Advanced” students bored
     • About 7 advanced st...
Online Student Comments
• Student “S” (age 53) passes algebra:
  – “Everyone gets a second chance in America”
• General st...
More Online Student Comments
• Bitter about high cost of textbooks
• Majority not keen on algebra applications
  – “Just w...
Community Colleges in Focus
• President Obama’s plan to energize CC
• Two-plus-two
  – 2 yrs at CC, 2 yrs at a 4-yr univer...
“Focus on Algebra”
• National Mathematics Advisory Panel
  – (http://www.ed.gov/about/bdscomm/list/mat
    hpanel/index.ht...
Tasks to Consider
• Goal: Competence in algebra
• Do not use technology for the sake of
  technology
• Experiment with Web...
Summary
• For success with algebra, focus on
  – Joy of learning
    • Good grades almost always follow
  – Use humor
  – ...
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My MERLOT 2009 Presentation

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Presentation at the MERLOT 2009 International Conference, San Jose, CA
(August 13-16)

Published in: Education
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My MERLOT 2009 Presentation

  1. 1. Acing Algebra: An Online Case Study MERLOT International Conference (MIC09) August 13-16, 2009 Hasan Z Rahim Adjunct Faculty, San Jose City College Hasan.Rahim@sjcc.edu
  2. 2. Opening Up Online • Silent/shy students express themselves – LMS: Moodle – Discussion Forum / Blog – Misgivings about algebra • Difficult • Lack of relevance • Graduation requirement only reason to take class
  3. 3. Initial Evaluation • 1/3 students did not meet prerequisites – Difficulties with basics • Subtraction • Order of mathematical operations • Fractions • Percentages
  4. 4. Teacher Adjustments • Time spent to reinforce basics – Consequence: “Advanced” students bored • About 7 advanced students out of a class of 38 • Decision bears fruit – Gap narrows as semester progresses – At about Linear Equation, almost even
  5. 5. Online Student Comments • Student “S” (age 53) passes algebra: – “Everyone gets a second chance in America” • General student comments – Made us believe in ourselves – Made us laugh – Algebra isn’t that difficult! • Conclusion – Students seek affirmation of self-worth
  6. 6. More Online Student Comments • Bitter about high cost of textbooks • Majority not keen on algebra applications – “Just want to solve straightforward problems” – Example: 5(2x – 4) = 10 • Some excited about real-life applications – Example: Stock price, investment, life expectancy, statistics, etc.
  7. 7. Community Colleges in Focus • President Obama’s plan to energize CC • Two-plus-two – 2 yrs at CC, 2 yrs at a 4-yr university – Works only for organized, disciplined students • Make sure CC credits are transferable – Major cause for not graduating • Teacher can motivate also as counselor – Initiate online discussion of student goals
  8. 8. “Focus on Algebra” • National Mathematics Advisory Panel – (http://www.ed.gov/about/bdscomm/list/mat hpanel/index.html) – “Focus on Algebra” – Long-term solution: • Begin with Algebra I for 8th-graders • Solve Math prerequiste problems in CCs
  9. 9. Tasks to Consider • Goal: Competence in algebra • Do not use technology for the sake of technology • Experiment with Web 2.0 Technologies – Wikis, Blogs, Podcast, Videocast – Integrate mainstream social networking • Facebook, Twitter – Track usefulness – Discard any tool that does not appeal
  10. 10. Summary • For success with algebra, focus on – Joy of learning • Good grades almost always follow – Use humor – Convince students you are on their side – Be flexible • Most CC students work to support family • Respond right away to student emails • Make clear the dangers of dropping out

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