Mathematical concepts; blended learning and groups

for increasing numbers of student, with diverse backgrounds and in a decentralised way

Short Description

This project is targeted at tailoring the course mathematical concepts for food technology to increasing numbers of student, with more diverse backgrounds, and in a decentralised way. Further digitization of the course and more group work (small groups of 3) allows us to tailor better to the students’ needs, bring the course to a higher level (content wise), and allow more flexibility in dealing with background deficiencies and lecture room availability. The flexibility created, allow students to study at their own pace, without being overly dependent on the teachers. The use of small peer groups leads to rapid answers to relatively trivial questions, while the teachers time can be dedicated to more advanced questions, leading to more depth in the course. It is expected that these interactive groups in combination with the knowledge clips will make students inherently more inquisitive. They are encouraged to ‘hunt for knowledge’, and it is expected that in this way the learnings will be remembered better by the students.

Objective

Tailoring the course mathematical concepts for food technology to increasing numbers of student, with more diverse backgrounds, and in a decentralised way.

Strong points 

More active learning environment through the use of:

  • Knowledge clips that can be viewed at leisure, and as often as needed. These clips will comprise theory, introduction of the exercises, and the answers to the exercises.
  • Small groups in which students will help each other solve the exercises. Students are grouped depending on their progress, which can change throughout the course.
  • A minor innovation that is part of the yearly course maintenance: the use of excel (instead of the pocket calculators) for which the students have a high motivation and that will allow them to apply the knowledge more readily, also outside the course.]

These new facets are used in combination with the existing reader, case studies within which students work on a larger assignment in groups of 4, and exercise sessions.

The course approach allows students more flexibility in the way they learn, what they need to learn according to possible deficiencies in their background, and will allow the teaching team to handle large student numbers (currently 166) without compromising course quality. As a side effect, the course no longer depends on the availability of large lecture rooms, and that solves a problem that exists university wide.

In order to make best use of the knowledge clips and teacher time, it is essential that students can discuss within smaller peer groups while working on the exercises. This allows them to talk about theory while applying it to the exercises. In this way the theory immediately becomes practically relevant, and from experience we know that applicability is a very important driver for food technology students, and we expect this also to be true for other students. Besides, this will make the students less dependent of the teachers, so these can focus on the more difficult questions students have.

Recommendations

Think things through early on; the approach potentially saves a lot of time, but only works if students prepare in small groups, so that process needs to be accommodated. This is very easy, through groups in Blackboard, so it does not require a lot of time, but students need to be instructed well. 

For more information or recommendations, please contact karin.schroen@wur.nl.

Products

The first instruction video was not up and running, and that is quite essential. Now all material is in place.