The Universities were seeking a tool that would allow them to provide more interactive and accessible course material to help the rapidly increasing number of students improve their math skills.
The Universities adopted Maple T.A. to administer tests and assignments online, its functionality allowing the institutions to increase the number of questions and amount of materials offered, while meeting the demands of a growing number of users.
In the summer of 2015, more than 500,000 questions were administered using Maple T.A. through nearly 70,000 test sets, increases of 50% and 42% over the previous year, respectively. Due to its success, Maple T.A. is now used in regular campus courses at the two universities.
The flexibility of Maple T.A. makes it easy to increase usage by 50%
The Department of Mathematical Sciences, a joint department between Chalmers University of Technology and the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, has been using Maple T.A. to deliver, administer and grade mathematics courses since 2008. While it was first used as a tool to deploy online summer courses, Maple T.A.'s flexibility has allowed it to grow with the increased demand and usage in Chalmers' and Gothenburg's programs.
From the time they were introduced, Maple T.A. tests have been an integral part of the summer courses, designed to help new students get their math up to speed before beginning their studies at the two universities. That initiative was a huge success, with the summer of 2015 seeing over 500,000 questions being administered through nearly 70,000 test sets. In comparison with the summer of 2014, this amounted to a 50% increase in the number of questions and a 42% increase in the number of tests. Although these summer courses added an additional 3,000 users to the system over the course of a few months, on top of the regular programs that utilize it, Maple T.A. enabled the easy administration of thousands more tests necessary to help students stay on top of their material. Maple T.A. tests are now used in the summer program, as well as the regular campus courses at both Chalmers and Gothenburg University.
"We appreciate how quickly and easily we were able to scale up our offering in Maple T.A.," said Dr. Tommy Gustafsson, Chalmers University. "With the increased volume, our instructors valued the flexibility of the technology, as well as the high quality authoring features in Maple T.A."
The advanced authoring environment allows professors to create high quality, custom content as well as utilize content created by others that is available in the Maple T.A. Cloud. The assignments and tests that the instructors are able to provide through Maple T.A. can be tailored to a class or even an individual student. Algorithmically generated questions ensure that each student gets a different version of the same question. "Students really appreciate how the tests in Maple T.A. are issued without time restrictions on solving the problems," says Gustafsson. "While the tests are typically open for about a week, and count as a bonus mark towards their final grade, the students can complete them at their own pace. In that way, they don't lose motivation and postpone studying until final exams."
According to Gustafsson, perhaps the most critical part of using Maple T.A. is that students get immediate feedback. This helps them understand where they might have gone wrong, and the steps needed to correct them. "Instant feedback is a strong tool for learning and practice," says Gustafsson. "Students retain their interest levels to try new problems and to get it right. In the process, they better understand the mathematical concepts behind the problems."
While it has been the Mathematical Sciences department that uses Maple T.A. regularly, other departments have also started incorporating their content in Maple T.A. The formulas in chemistry and physics are easily presented in Maple T.A., and multiple choice questions work very well for the humanities and social sciences. "While using Maple T.A. is completely optional to the course instructors, those who do use it find that it facilitates their work well," added Gustafsson. "They appreciate the time saved in class from not having to administer written quizzes, especially with just how many we've given this summer! Even the instructors, who don't use Maple T.A. currently, recognize the need for this kind of system."
Although participation in the summer program has increased way over expectations in the past few years, Maple T.A. has been able to adapt to the growing needs of users in both Chalmers and Gothenburg to provide better engagement in the classroom and empower students with the right tools to succeed.
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