Highline Community College Grants Professors Added Flexibility in Delivering Math Curricula
OOverlooking Puget Sound in Washington State, Highline Community College instructs more than 9,000 students each semester. Nearly 400 students are successfully bringing their math skills up to the college level using Academic System's Interactive Mathematics software program in the math lab.
Running non-stop from 7:00 a.m. through the evening, almost every computer seat in Highline's 45-computer math lab is filled with self-paced students. Professor Helen Burn, lead math coordinator, believes that the computer-based math instruction program enables today's self-motivated, computer-familiar students to gain fundamental math skills by delivering individualized learning sequences. The instructor-led, computer-based math classes offered at Highline benefit both students and professors. Entry-level and math review students with multiple learning styles welcome the multimedia presentations in the software. Instructors notice that they have more impact on their students' success. With the primary math instruction being provided by computer, Burn has more time for one-on-one instruction.
"The Interactive Mathematics system gives me more flexibility in teaching," says Burn. "It bridges the gap between instructor and student. I now have the means to see where students are on an individual basis and to respond immediately with assistance. Learning is more effective when the language of delivery is appropriate to the individual learner."
Engaging Students With Interaction
The Interactive Mathematics program provides unparalleled support for learners. In addition to the benefits of one-on-one interaction with the math instructor, students receive an array of learning resources from the software. Each math lesson is presented in six customized modules and includes narrated video and animation to capture student attention. Math problems model relevant work situations and may engage students in collaborative learning projects.
Burn sees students brighten when they understand math that they had either been previously unexposed to, or had difficulty understanding in high school. "The movies and graphics appeal to certain students as opposed to a lecture format class," notes Burn. "I was surprised by a student who was real quiet, but doing real well. I thought he was bored. As we got to know each other, he told me how happy he was to not have to listen to an instructor and to not have to wait for slower students to get it. He succeeded with Intermediate Algebra and moved on to the Science track and right into college Calculus."
As the students' academic achievement improved through the help of Interactive Mathematics, Highline Community College broadened the scope of delivery to include distance learning. Beginning with the 1998 summer semester, Highline offered Intermediate Algebra online for students unable to attend classes or labs on campus. After a successful math summer, almost a hundred students enrolled for the Fall 1998 Algebra Online course which, according to Burn, is rigorously facilitated by a math instructor.
As instructors and students at Highline discover the flexibility and individual success available using Interactive Mathematics, administrators are looking for ways to offer even more math curricula to students using computer-based programs in tandem with professional instruction. Burn explains: "With Interactive Mathematics, students gain another option. The program was implemented in the fall of 1996, and since then it's like having this wonderful cutting-edge tool that you want to share with everyone."
San Antonio, TX
This article originally appeared in the 06/01/1999 issue of THE Journal.