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Adaptation of tertiary mathematics instruction to the virtual medium: approaches to assessment practice

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posted on 24.06.2013, 10:10 authored by Sven Trenholm
Mathematics has been singled out as a challenging discipline to teach fully online (FO). Yet both the demand for and development of FO mathematics courses is increasing with little known about the quality of these courses and many calling for research. Whereas most research has investigated the nature of these courses by examining instructional outputs such as student grades this research seeks the same insight but by examining instructional inputs. Specifically, it seeks to investigate the nature of current assessment practice in FO mathematics courses. To conduct this investigation, deep learning (Marton & Säljö, 1976a, 1976b) is used as the principle theoretical framework. From the growing body of literature associated with deep learning, two studies are selected to investigate current FO mathematics instructors assessment practices. An additional framework based on empirical findings related to the use of different kinds of feedback is also used. In total, six study measures are used to conduct a mixed methods study in two parts. The target demographic and course context are tertiary instructors from Western nations that teach introductory level mathematics (particularly statistics and calculus). The first study explores current FO mathematics assessment practices using an online survey (n=70) where the majority of participants originate from US higher education institutions. In the second study six of the US survey participants are interviewed about how their assessment practices and approaches used in their FO mathematics courses differ from those used in their face-to-face (F2F) mathematics courses. This study represents the first known attempt to investigate the nature of tertiary FO mathematics instructors assessment practices using appropriate theoretical frameworks. In particular, it investigates mathematics instructors experiences of the affordances and constraints of the FO course context when adapting their F2F practice to this new environment. Findings suggest the FO course context is a challenging environment for instructors to orient their teaching and assessment practice in a way that helps develop students understanding of mathematics. Analysis of interview responses suggests the problem lies with the nature of interactivity provided in the FO course context.


Loughborough University Studentship



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  • Mathematical Sciences


© Sven Trenholm

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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.

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