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Adapting Maths Support Centres to Webwork

- Nuala Curley
- UCD

Adapting Maths Support Centres to Webwork

- Increased use of online teaching resources.
- Research in Neuroscience.
- Maths Support Centres personal contact.
- Adapt webwork.

What is WeBWorK?

- Internet-based system for generating tutorial

exercises. - Library of over 2500 problems.
- What areas are covered?

How is WeBWorK used?

- Use Library problems.
- Edit problems.
- Write your own problems.

Example

- Don't show this problem on the next update.
- Add this problem to the target set on the next

update. - If f(x)Cos (sin(x2)) , find f(x)Find f(2).

- File name Library/maCalcDB/setDerivatives5ChainRu

le/s2_5_7.pg - Edit it Try it

Advantages

- Gradually build knowledge of a concept.
- Individualised versions.
- Limited trials.
- Thinking timemotivation.
- Immediate feedback.
- Sets automatically graded continuous monitoring.

- Very suitable for large classes.
- Not multi-choice.

Disadvantages

- Student difficulties
- Entering data.
- Prior knowledge may be needed.
- Students have no understanding of topic.
- Lecturer difficulties
- Takes time to become familiar with its use and

build up a well designed set of questions to

match your course. - Support Centre difficulties
- unnecessary extra work.

Entering difficulty

- BOMDAS eg
- If you enter 3/45 3.75
- but if you enter 3/(45) 3/20.
- Enter Sin2t you get (Sin(2))t.
- v(2x) must be entered as (2x)1/2.

Further example of difficulty in entering data

- If you want to enter for example 23Sin24x
- 23sin2(4x) is wrong.
- You must enter something like
- 23(sin(4x))2
- or
- 23sin(4x)2.
- Students can use the "Preview Button" to see

exactly how their entry looks.

Prior knowledge may be needed

- For example to answer a question on the domain of

a function students must be familiar with

interval notation. - Q1. What is the domain of
- f(x)(x2-4)/(x-2) where x is a real number.
- Input (-8,2)U(2,8) in this fashion only.

Students have no understanding of topic.

- MSC then becomes a teacher of the topic from

basics.

How does this effect the Maths Support Centre?

- Considerable extra work for the centre
- Inputting data.
- Covering prior knowledge required.
- Teaching.

Significantly Reducing Difficulties

- Introductory course on entering data.
- Matching lecture, tutorial and webwork.

Trial planned next year for Commerce students in

UCD

- Size of class approx 600.
- Small size tutorials.
- Short webwork at end of the tutorial.
- Marks allocated for webwork, mid term exam and

final exam.

Conclusion

- Excellent Resource.
- Use of it needs careful preparation and planning.
- Research needed to ascertain its true value.
- Library needs constant updating with increase in

level of courses covered.