Modular math education on a large-scale
Practicing and testing with personalized math education on a large-scale
University of Applied Sciences
Mathematics at HBO-ICT
Situation: Mathematics is one of the core components in the first year of HBO-ICT that all students participate in. The student group holds a high variation of mathematical backgrounds and often a large number of students had to resit exams of the course. The small teacher team at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences faced this challenge with a sophisticated curriculum, a variety of ways of teaching, and the usage of Grasple as a digital practice and testing tool. They are now capable of providing high-quality and personalized mathematics education for over 1000 students.
Challenge: To adapt the course to each individual student, the teaching staff developed a modular curriculum that consists of 16 building blocks. Which modules the student has to work on depends on the chosen specialization and possible exemptions, that can be obtained through certificates prior to the course, or results on the diagnostic test as part of the course and modules. This concept will help students receive a personalized curriculum that lets them practice and learn the mathematical skills that they need in the following years of their degree.
Having a teaching staff with limited capacity and a large group of students, the challenges involved are related to scalability and time-efficiency.
- How do you keep teaching feasible with 6 teachers on 1000 students, taking the individual program of each student into account?
- How do you ensure that each student makes progress and observe them in their individual program as a teacher?
- How do you cope with conducting, marking, and administrating approximately 10,000 tests in a year?
- How do you engage students in a way that they actually learn new concepts and keep them motivated throughout the course?
‘’We have students with various backgrounds, and the level of math knowledge is scattered. How do we make sure that everyone grasps the right knowledge to start with the more substantive ICT modules, without teaching math to the students that they already master. The program is already challenging, so we want to focus on what students really need.’’
~ Marloes Zutt, Math Teacher at HBO-ICT ~
Solutions: To be able to assist students with the right guidance, the teaching staff provides 16 standardized modules in class throughout the year. Students can decide themselves to partake in lectures and seminar sessions. To enhance flexibility in the course, students can also decide to work their way through these modules by self-studying, using videos, pre-recorded lectures, and walk-in sessions. By personalizing this, the teaching staff can actually focus on students that do need help, whereas students with more advanced mathematics knowledge can serve themselves.
In this case a specific mathematics curriculum will look different for each student HBO-ICT. The green circles indicate modules that a student already masters, whereas orange and grey circles represent modules that are yet to be mastered by the student.
In both situations, students practice online using Grasple. They can work independently and their progress is automatically registered and made transparent and understandable for teachers. The teachers can easily track the progress of individual students, groups, and all students doing the course, or break it down per subject. This helps teachers to observe certain subjects where students might struggle with on a larger scale.
Besides that, all tests are provided digitally for the students using the same tool. The answers students give are reviewed automatically and thus save time for the teaching staff. Students get adaptive feedback which increases their learning abilities. Furthermore, this gives room to offer more assessment possibilities and bring students flexibility in finishing the modules. The time saved for the teachers is being used in further preparing lectures and individual support for students at every level.
‘’For students, flexibility in their planning is very important. We offer the modules in a standard planning with 4 modules each study period, but also offer students the possibility to make tests mid-term. Students can spread the tests a bit more, or they can decide to try subjects that will be dealt with later on in the course.’’
~ Marloes Zutt, Math Teacher HBO-ICT ~