Using
Computer Mediated Discussion Forum in Learning Mathematics
Victor Tan
mattanv@nus.edu.sg
Mathematics
National University of Singapore
Singapore
Abstract
Discussion is an important part in the learning process. This component
is quite lacking in higher education of mathematics. At the university
level, there are usually tutorial or discussion sessions for math
courses. But in these sessions, other than a few good students,
majority of the class tend to play a passive role with little participation
in the discussion. One of the main reasons is the lack of confidence
in students to communicate mathematical ideas. This forms a vicious
circle as the less they speak up, the more they lost their confident.
Some initial effort must be put in to turn the situation around.
One way that the author has tried is to make use of computer mediated
discussion forum. In this paper, the author will illustrate how
computer mediated discussion forum can be used to encourage mathematics
students to share their mathematical ideas and build up a discussion
environment among them. The discussion forum tool used by the author
is part of the online course management system known as IVLE (Integrated
Virtual Learning Environment) developed by the National University
of Singapore. The features of this tool will be introduced. The
author has used the discussion forum for several years. He will
describe how he has made use of the tool in teaching math courses
and what the responses and comments of the students are. In particular,
he will share his experience of using the forum as an assessment
component in his courses. He will also discuss about the limitations
and problems encountered in using the tool.
