CHALLENGES AND DIFFICULTIES OF TEACHING MATHEMATICS IN LATVIAN UNIVERSITIES DURING COVID-19

N. Sergejeva, S. Atslega, A. Aboltins

Latvia University of Life Sciences and Technologies (LATVIA)
Many countries are currently conducting studies and surveys analyzing the teaching procedure in secondary schools during Covid-19. The situation in universities particularly in the acquisition of STEM subjects appears to be much less studied. This article analyzes the situation in the field of teaching mathematics in Latvian universities, emphasizing the teachers’ views. Most of the surveyed mathematics teachers work with students from different engineering specialties, including the authors of the article.

To analyze the challenges of teaching mathematics at Covid-19, when there was a rapid transition to distance learning, mathematics teachers from the 5 largest Latvian universities were interviewed. It should be noted that the transition to online learning took place very quickly and some teachers were not prepared for it. The learning process was not interrupted, and the lectures were held at the scheduled times but online.

The study revealed that mathematics teachers recognize that one of the biggest challenges was the possibility to objectively assess students' understanding during online learning (83% admit that it is more difficult to do it online compared to face-to-face teaching).

As the greatest disadvantages most of them have mentioned the lack of human contact with students, increased work volume in general and working with a computer, which is not so good for the health; and the fact that it is very difficult to assess students' accurate knowledge remotely.

As an advantage of the distance learning method, several lecturers note that students have the opportunity to listen to lectures repeatedly, saving the time usually spent moving between the place of residence and the university and between different university buildings or auditoriums; an increase of students' independent work and acquisition of new technologies that can be used in studies.

Despite all the challenges, 61% of the surveyed teachers believe that lectures in mathematics could continue to take place online, but practical lessons such as problem-solving and the use of computer programs should take place in classrooms face to face.