A Holistic Approach to Promote Student Engagement and Learning in a First-year Mathematics Course

By Madan Lal Gupta.

Published by The International Journal of Science, Mathematics and Technology Learning

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Article: Electronic $US5.00

Agricultural mathematics was first introduced in 2008 to address the deficiencies in mathematics education of incoming agricultural students at the University of Queensland—Gatton Campus, Australia. The course is offered to first-year Bachelor of Applied Science students enrolled in a number of agricultural disciplines, and is compulsory for all those students who have not already passed senior mathematics in high school. A number of successful teaching and learning strategies were incorporated into the presentation of this course to address, not only the social isolation common to the experience of many first-year students, but also the difficulties posed by the inadequate mathematical backgrounds and, consequently, mathematical phobias many students bring to their agricultural studies. Strategies included interactive lectures using tablet personal computers, student response systems to promote student-lecturer interactions in the classroom, group work/cooperative learning to promote student-student interaction, challenging learning activities to engage students in problem solving related to agricultural disciplines, and provision of recorded interactive lectures for flexible learning. The impact of this holistic approach to student engagement and learning was assessed by the standard Teaching and Course Evaluation surveys, along with questionnaires specifically developed for this course. Feedback from students was very positive, as evidenced by high teaching and course evaluation scores during the last five years.

Keywords: Technology Learning, Student Engagement, Mathematics, Interactive Lectures, Tablet PC, Clickers, Cooperative Learning

The International Journal of Science, Mathematics, and Technology Learning, Volume 20, Issue 4, November 2014, pp.65-79. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.189MB).

Dr. Madan Lal Gupta

Senior Lecturer, School of Agriculture & Food Sciences, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia