A Web-Based Undergraduate Mathematics Tutor

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A Web-Based Undergraduate Mathematics Tutor

Abstract

This work reports on the Web-based undergraduate mathematics tutor developed by the author for use by the undergraduates of Computer science department in higher educational institution. It briefly analyses the traditional method of teaching undergraduates mathematics and uses ideas so gathered to design a new one. The new method allows students to learn mathematics interactively, and at their own pace via technologically-based system. Their understanding in mathematics will increase as they learn interactively on their own, and consequently improve their performance in mathematics. The system was designed using top-down design methodology and implemented using XAMPP IDE on windows 7 system using PHP, HTML, CSS and MySQL technologies.

Chapter 1:  Introduction

1.0     Introduction

Mathematics education is one of the human disciplines that have influence on man’s cultural, social and economic life. Mathematics is essential for the prosperity of a nation in providing devices for comprehending science, engineering, technology and other related subjects. According to the author in [1] mathematics provides students with great and powerful ways to describe, analyze and transform the world. It is defined as the science of numbers and shapes.  Mathematics is the study of quantity, structure, space and change.
As important as mathematics is, the research has found out that many undergraduate students still find mathematics a hard nut to crack. And this results in their poor performance in the course. If this situation continues unchecked, it will affect the future development of science and technology in the nation since mathematics is one of the key contributing factors. For this reason, different efforts are geared towards making mathematics a simple, enjoyable and interesting course so that students can learn with keen interest to understanding it.
As a contributory effort in fighting the decline in the success rate of the undergraduate students in mathematics, this study is carried out. It focuses on developing a web-based undergraduate mathematics tutor for the undergraduates which is believed to help them learn mathematics interactively and at their own pace

1.1     Statement of problem

The present method of teaching undergraduates mathematics has the following problems:
(i)       Large class of students. In this case, one lecturer will lecture a large class of students at a time and many students like the slow-learners may not be carried along.
(ii)       In the traditional method of lecturing mathematics, it is possible for a student or group of students to hate a mathematics lecturer. And this can affect the understanding of such a student in the course.
 

1.2     Objective of the study

The objective of this study is to develop a web-based undergraduate mathematics tutor (WBUMT) to solve the problems observed in the traditional method of teaching undergraduates mathematics. And it will do the following:

  • Gives students a detailed understanding with graphical illustrations on the subject matter.
  • Has a repertoire of questions on the subject matter that will be stored on MySQL database.
  • Renders solutions to each of the questions attempted by the student.
  • And makes provision for repetition on areas a student wishes to repeat.

 

1.3     Significance of the study

The study is very significant as it is tailored to meet the students’ needs in a specific area. Particularly, it will help the undergraduate students of computer science department to have a better understanding of mathematics in the areas covered by the study. The result of the study  is the development of a web-based undergraduate mathematics tutor (WBUMT). When students make good use of this tutor, it will improve their performance in mathematics. The following also buttress the importance of the study:

  • With this interactive math tutor, the students will work at their own pace. In other words, the fast and the brilliant ones will learn faster while the slow ones will go according to their abilities.
  • Due to the fact that the students are actively involved, many problems of indiscipline (distractions) are reduced to the greatest minimum.
  • As learning progresses from simple to complex problems (i.e. from known to unknown), the students find it easier to follow than the lecturer- instruction method.
  • In a given time period, more contents are covered than the traditional method.
  • The immediate feedback of knowing the correct answers reinforces the students’ effort positively. More so, it avoids the fixation of wrong options.
  • There is also the probability of remedial reinforcement i.e. a situation where student’s answer is wrong, he will have the opportunity to correct it himself or try it again.

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