Just Computer-Aided Instruction Is Not Enough. Combining Webwork with In-Class Interactive Sessions Increases Achievement and Perseverance of Social Science Calculus Students
The dual problem of declining enrolment of Social Science students in CEGEP Mathematics courses and of high failure rates in those same courses seriously limits future career options for those students. This is having an impact on the competitiveness of Quebec in a global knowledge-based economy. In the context of Differential Calculus classes for Social Science students, we designed and executed an experiment to study the effects of integrating an online computer-based assignment delivery system: WeBWorK. The experiment contrasted three modes of providing the students with practice problem sets in Calculus classes: paperwork assignments with human markers; assignments via WeBWorK; and WeBWorK assignments combined with in-class interactive sessions. Students in the third condition significantly outperformed peers in the other two conditions both in Calculus achievement and in their perseverance in taking further Mathematics courses. Virtually all instructors involved in the experiment subsequently adopted WeBWorK assignments and in-class interactive sessions for all of their classes.
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