Florida’s Indian River Community
College wins national laurels for online tutorial and assessment
Prof. Asoka Peiris
used Maple T.A.™ for dramatic improvements in student
raise the success level in his algebra course, Professor
Peiris, Math Department Chair at Indian River Community
College, Florida, made a commitment to himself: improve
his students’ conceptual understanding and provide
tutorial practice of math problems while accommodating different
learning styles. His strategy was to increase the use of
technology in his classroom, and he turned to Maplesoft™,
a leading provider of high-performance software tools for
science and mathematics. He used Maplesoft’s testing
and assessment product Maple T.A.™ to develop online
tools that enable students to diagnose their own weaknesses
in math comprehension and access practice materials at their
The students loved the new approach to learning and Professor
Peiris saw dramatic improvements in the class’ response.
He won many accolades for the success of this program. He
won the League Connection’s 2006 Innovation of the
Year Award for outstanding innovation and has been nominated
for the Bellwether Award by the 2007 Community College Futures
Assembly (result to be announced in January 2007). Professor
Peiris will also be presenting a paper called “Online
Tutorial Program for College Algebra using Maple T.A."
at the 19th Annual International Conference on Technology
in Collegiate Mathematics in Boston, Massachusetts.
The Online Tutorial Program in Mathematics
Professor Peiris created computerized quizzes and homework
problems using Maple T.A. Thus, Indian River College received
a learning system that helps students understand the step-by-step
methodology and reasoning behind solving algebra problems.
The modules address various learning styles, and help students
understand abstract concepts, get step-by-step assistance
in solving problems, receive instant feedback, and reduce
reliance on textbooks. The math faculty also uses the modules
for classroom demonstrations.
All quizzes and homework problems are algorithmically generated.
This means there is no limit to the number of practice questions
a student can use and no student is presented with the same
quiz or homework problem twice. When a student completes
a quiz, Maple T.A. provides instant feedback and test results
are sent to the student’s instructor. This feedback
enables the instructor to identify the student’s strengths
and weaknesses and offer personalized assistance.
“The infusion of technology into math instruction
has increased the success rates in college algebra and has
increased the number of students who are attempting more
advanced math courses,” said Professor Peiris. “Although
many publishers provide technology assistance for algebra
students, what I like about Maple T.A. is that the quizzes
and tutorials run on the college servers and are free to
all students. They can access them from home or in campus
computer labs. Students who used Maple T.A. for college
algebra have now requested the same for their pre-calculus
algebra and trigonometry classes. This, to me, reflects
their excitement at a better way of learning Math.”