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Using Inquiry-Based Teaching and Learning Approaches to Increase Engagement and Learning Outcomes in Undergraduate Online Mathematics Courses

Improving Learning Strategies in Education

Discussant Information

Dr. Sheron Burns
School of Education, UWI, Cave Hill Campus
sheron.burns@cavehill.uwi.edu

Author Information:

Kerrie Ellis-Worrell M.Ed
Academic Programming and Delivery Division, UWI Open Campus, Barbados
Kerrie.ellis-worrell@open.uwi.edu

Presentation Information:

Presentation #: 3
Date: 2nd June, 2015
Time: 8:30 am - 10:00 am
Location: CHRISTOPHER

Abstract:

Students enrolled at the UWI Open Campus, are provided with opportunities to enrol in remedial online mathematics courses before they start their academic programmes. ?However, data reported over the course of three semesters, show moderate to high failure rates among students taking these courses. ?Additionally, web conferencing sessions, designed to foster engagement with the mathematical content, experienced a progressive reduction of student participation by the middle of each semester. This study explores how a non-traditional approach to the teaching and learning of online ? mathematics, such as inquiry-based teaching and learning and some of its derivatives, can foster sustained student engagement and in-turn, increase student learning outcomes. Using a qualitative approach, focus-group interviews were conducted to engage students and facilitators on their current perspectives about what works in the learning environment, and their expectations and recommendations for teaching and learning, respectively. Findings indicate that the use of web-conferencing and vodcasts align closely to student?s learning styles. ?Studies suggest that these modes can support active learning, problem solving and conceptual learning. ?Important learning benefits such as: reviewing old material and visualization are also noted. ?Findings in this study also revealed a preference for hands-on tasks and a need for better ways for students to collaborate with their peers, to facilitate online mathematical skill development. Facilitators also support the need for students to take responsibility for their learning. ?Recent studies suggest long term benefits from these two approaches to learning; however, it is important that facilitators use these tools in ways that will effectively promote active learning.