# WHAT CONSTITUTES AN EFFECTIVE ONLINE LEARNING EXPERIENCE FOR MATHEMATICS STUDENTS?

This study reported on the studentsâ€™ perceptions of an effective online mathematics programme. 194 sets of qualitative data were collected from an open ended question that was part of a survey used to capture student perceptions of an online preparatory mathematics programme in a polytechnic. There were 376 students who responded to this online survey, from a total of 1095 students who completed this programme. From the analysis, through coding and categorisation, the students identified important features of an effective online mathematics programme in two areas. In the area of content delivery, an online mathematics programme must be diagnostic, recapitulative, connected, incremental, dynamic, meaningful, challenging and monitoring. On the other hand, in the domain of self evaluation, it has to be consistent, convenient, friendly, scaffolding, sufficient, detailed and intelligent.

It is diagnostic. As students come with different mathematical abilities, they believed that it is important that the each online lesson comes with a diagnostic test to gauge if they need to go through the whole lesson proper. It is recapitulative. The students felt that an online environment should have the pre-requisite knowledge can be hyperlinked to resources for students who need to recap or practise on what they might have learnt before. It is connected. The students believed that each preceding topic must be related to the the subsequent topic so that the knowledge learnt can be built upon in subsequent topics. It is dynamic. It is desired that detailed worked examples that are explained through auditory mean where the explanation is synchronised with the timed visual appearance of each individual step to demonstrate the procedure. It is meaningful. The ability of the students to relate whatever mathematical concepts or procedures meaningfully to real life applications need to be explicit in online learning, iIt is challenging. In the online environment, there is a need to construct a repertoire of examples of different difficulty levels to engage all the students cognitively. It is monitoring. It is important to put in checks that can help to monitor the progress of the student learning.

It is consistent the students felt that it is essential that there are checks for understanding after every topic or even every section in a topic. It is convenient. As solving mathematics problem usually requires the presence of formulae or referral to similar examples in the lesson, the students believed that it would be convenient for them if the online experience is able to provide split screens of exercises and study examples/formulae so that exercises can be done with reference to them. It is friendly. The students felt that the entry area for workings to tutor marked exercises or enquiries to tutors must be able to provide the various mathematics signs and symbols needed. It is scaffolding. Hints to the questions can be suggested so that weaker students know how to start or where to look for help. It is detailed. As there is no teacher to explain why the studentâ€™s answer is not correct, it is of utmost importance that a detailed step-by-step solution accompanies each question for the student to learn from his/her mistake. It is intelligent. According to the students, it would be beneficial if assessment is able to capture correct steps so that partial marks can be awarded for wrong answers.