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Using e-learning to self regulate the learning process of Mathematics for Engineering students

Mathematics at an undergraduate level is frequentlypresented to the students in quite a traditional way. When implementing theBologna education reform in Portuguese universities, the number of contacthours of the courses decreased (considerably in some cases), thereforeincreasing the need of a more self-responsible learning by the student. Thismeans that the student has to work by himself (i.e., outside lectures andexamples classes) on a regular basis. In practice this implies that thelecturer is supposed to plan the students work, in principle weekly basis. Inthis SEMINAR we intend to describe an experience made at the Department ofMathematics for Science and Technology of the University of Minho in Portugal.Using an e-learning platform specially designed forteaching Mathematics calledMaple T. A., we designed, programmed and made available for the studentsvarious sets of exercises organized in Question Banks on the course ofCalculus. We also make a comparison of alternative ways to program thequestions of a questions bank. The advantage of this platform is that ifproperly designed, the questions can be always different and with differentmethods of solving (because of the use of random variables), the student can doit whenever and wherever he is (he does it via internet) and it feedback ismade available to the students as soon as he submits the exercise. At the endof the academic year and with the aim of being able to evaluate how did thestudents feel about this experience, the students were given a surveyimplemented on the elearning platform. The results obtained from this surveystrongly suggest, among other things, that using Maple T.A. helped the studentsin the study of the course of Calculus, and that it helped to achieve betterresults on the course. Results presented here were presented in 14th WSEASIntern. Conference on Applied Mathematics (Math'09), and later on an extendedversion was published on line in the International Journal of Educationand Information Technologies.
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