Medgar Evers College, CUNY (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2010 Proceedings
Publication year: 2010
Pages: 2258-2259 (abstract only)
ISBN: 978-84-614-2439-9
ISSN: 2340-1095
Conference name: 3rd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 15-17 November, 2010
Location: Madrid, Spain
MathLynx is an interactive mathematics teaching and learning environment developed with MAPLE software. It is at once text and tutorial, practice session and assignment and quiz and test generator. It is currently operative for students at precalculus, calculus of one variable and multivariable calculus levels.

MathLynx is based on two premises. The first premise is that students leaving our colleges and universities must be technologically up to date. That is, they should be familiar with state-of-the-art tools in their fields of study. The second is that start-up cost should not be a substantial barrier to entry to the world of technological literacy. All should be invited to participate in the expansion of mathematical understanding.

The project as it currently stands has four components.

· The first is interactive text. This is composed of rather standard mathematical text enhanced by extensive linking to supporting and related material, and embedded in CAS worksheets. This enables instructors to illustrate points, and students to experiment with parts of the patterns that instructors are trying to make clear.

· The second is topic specific CAS tutorials, walking the student through how to perform tasks within a CAS in a just-in-time sort of way. Users are not introduced to loads of commands or many of the features of CAS until the mathematical desire for these tools dictates such introduction.

· Third is a rich set of tutorials and problem-solving walk-throughs to give students plenty of practice with problem solving and mathematical task management. These tasks all include randomly generated parameters, so that users can see myriad examples of a given mathematical pattern.

· Finally, a rich bank of problems is available for self-assessment, homework, quizzes or tests. Practice sessions for self-assessment are open to all users, and credit-earning packages are both preexisting and creatable by instructors.

This environment has been under development by Professor John A. Velling at Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York for several years. It has only achieved its current operational form in the last year and a half.

Medgar Evers College has introduced MathLynx in some Pre-Calculus and Calculus sections in an experiment to assess its effect on student retention and long-term success in mathematics. The integration of a state-of-the-art mathematics tool kit into a traditionally underserved and financially strained population of predominantly inner city African Americans presents a number of challenges and opportunities for the teaching and learning of Mathematics.

In this presentation, the author offers a preliminary report on these challenges and opportunities. Two questions are explored: Do these tools have the potential to positively affect student retention in a predominantly inner city African American classrom? To what extent do these tools aid in the long term development of a deep conceptual understanding of mathematics ?

The author presents an assessment of his use of these tools over the course of the last two semesters. The analysis, primarily based on his observations and on interviews with the students, will focus on students’ perceptions of this mode of teaching and learning and it's potential impact on their of success in mathematics.