Teaching and Assessing Intermediate Algebra Students Online
Math, Science, and Technology Department
Nova Southeastern University
3301 College Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33314
(954) 262-8308; email@example.com
The use of technology in the teaching and learning of
mathematics has been explored by most educators for some
time now. Technology in the mathematics classroom has
undoubtedly grown as user-friendly technologies have been
developed to assist the instructor in tracking multiple
student progress. Through the use of technology,
instructors are now able to provide feedback and guidance
on an individual basis, monitor student progress, link
students to other related learning resources, and provide
an interactive learning experience.
The purpose of this paper is to illustrate some of the
technologies available for the delivery of mathematics
courses online. The demonstrations will focus on the use of
a WebCT platform in the teaching and assessing of college
students in an Intermediate Algebra online course.
Description of Course
The online sections of the course are taught completely
online with a maximum of eighteen students per class. The
students in the class log onto a WebCT platform where the
course has been developed. The home page of the course
consists of nine different icons labeled as Start Here,
Pre-Class Info, Syllabus, Course Content, Study Tools,
Communication, University Resources, Evaluations, and
Search. The students are responsible to log on at least
once a day just as they would be responsible to attend a
live course everyday.
The Start Here icon contains a WebCT tutorial to get
students accustomed to the WebCT tools of the course.
Before students are provided access to the course, they
need to complete and pass a mandatory WebCT quiz. The Pre-
Class Info contains information similar to a first class
assignment that live courses sometimes have posted on a
bulletin board on campus. The Syllabus icon contains the
same syllabus given in a live course on the first day of
class. It consists of information about the instructor with
office hours, required textbooks and materials, the
objectives of the course, topics of the book covered,
schedule of assignments throughout the term, number of
tests and their weight in the course, the grading scale,
and the last day to withdraw from the course. The Course
Content consists of instructor's notes and links to related
topics being covered, some of which consist of video clips
of lectures. The Study Tools consist of a calendar, the
university's library website access, a glossary, and other
such resources. The Communication icon contains email,
discussion, chat, and a whiteboard. The University Resource
icon contains all of the university's important websites
available to students, such as the library, the bookstore,
the math lab, etc. The Evaluation icon contains all the
exams of the term. The Search icon is provided to students
as an easy access to some of the commonly used search
Course Content and Student Assessment
Even though all of the components of the course are
important, the course content and the evaluation are the
essence of the course. These two are what make a course,
whether it is live or online. In the online format, as it
was briefly discussed above, the Course Content icon
consists mainly of what the instructor would be presenting
in a classroom setting. In an online course there is more
of an active approach required since the student is
responsible for the reading and viewing of the material
provided by the instructor. The student is more of an
independent learner in the online setting. An example of a
lecture provided to students as part of the course content
can be found by going to http://www.polaris.nova.edu/MST/online/math1030/unit3/u3s1.
Students in the online class are assessed through their
performance on tests. These tests are found via the
Evaluation icon. Tests consist of twenty multiple-choice
questions covering three or four sections at a time.
Students in an intermediate algebra online course have a
test every week. Tests are made available for three days,
however, once a test is accessed, students have a limited
time available to complete it. Tests are created with the
maximum level of security in mind. In doing so, tests have
been constructed so that no two students receive the same
questions in the same order and questions appear one at a
time where they need to be answered or skipped and if
skipped will be counted wrong. Tests are graded instantly
after they are submitted. Each test is made available to
the students for review and discussion two to three days
after the submission deadline. The following contains the
information given to students about the tests.
INFORMATION ABOUT TESTS:
- There are seven tests covering 3 or 4 sections each
and one comprehensive final exam that covers all of
the material studied in the course.
- Tests are available only on the scheduled dates and
must be taken as scheduled.
- You have only one attempt at each test.
- Tests are timed and once you have used all the
available time you will not be able to record answers.
- The time allotted to a test is based upon the
assumptions that the student is working at a slow
pace, is knowledgeable about the quiz content, and is
using only pencil, paper, and a scientific calculator.
- Questions will appear one at a time. Students must
answer or skip each question before proceeding. Once a
question has been answered or skipped it may not be
- Calculators are permitted.
- You are not to use any formulas, tables, notes, or
textbooks of any kind.
- If you need help to setup your browser for the online
tests you can call the NSU HELP DESK. The HELP DESK
should be called if you have any difficulties with
your computer, Internet connection, or connecting to
WEBCT. They should be your first call for support and
Some of the issues that are still uncertain in the
effective delivery of online mathematics courses are the
quality of instruction provided to the students and the
integrity and transparency of the entire testing process.
When technologies are available that could make these two
issues more comparable to those accessible in a live
classroom setting, the online experience will be a complete