Date of Completion
Open Access Capstone
Master of Arts (MA)
The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics recommends that teachers provide their students with opportunities for student-centered learning. This often occurs in the form of discovery learning, hands-on learning, and interdisciplinary learning. These types of learning experiences fall under the umbrella of the educational theory of constructivism. Constructivism, in short, asserts that meaningful learning occurs when students actively construct their own understanding, making connections and drawing their own conclusions in response to genuine experiences. Many educators would agree that this type of learning is the ideal, but is not generally feasible due to the broad nature of the mathematics curriculum and the limited time available in class. I am proposing that a course website can serve to remove some of these obstacles and facilitate this type of independent learning. Designing these activities to be completed at home via the web has shifted the responsibility for individual discovery to the individual learner’s time. The instructor can provide students with opportunities to discover and construct their own meaning while minimizing the amount of class time that must be committed. Also, the loosely structured and non-linear organizational structure of the web opens up limitless possibilities for student exploration. Students are able to generate their own resources to be analyzed, synthesized, and evaluated in the context of what needs to be learned. It is this responsibility and freedom to explore that ultimately will foster the habits of mind and problem solving skills that educators so desire our students to have, but find so difficult to teach. These are skills that must be discovered by each learner on their own in their own time. The website that I have proposed in this synthesis can function as a powerful tool for facilitating that discovery. This synthesis provides a detailed description of this website and specific ways in which it works to achieve its three goals of improving communication with students and their parents, improving student attitudes about math class, and developing problem-solving and higher-order thinking skills.
Bretsch, Jeffrey, "Have Your π and Eat it Too! Using a Course Website to Facilitate Student-Centered Learning and Improve the Effectiveness of the High School Mathematics Experience" (2005). Critical and Creative Thinking Capstones Collection. 32.