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Innovative tool used to build math skills developed at U of T Scarborough

Zohreh Shahbazi, an Associate Professor in the Department of Computer and Mathematical Sciences and the Centre for Teaching and Learning at UTSC, helped develop a series of online learning modules that can be used to develop math skills by university students. (Photo by Ken Jones)

Students transitioning into university have a new learning support tool at their disposal thanks to a series of online math skills development modules developed at U of T Scarborough.

“We’re interested in student retention and ensuring student success,” says Adon Irani, Learning Consultant and Educational Technology Specialist at UTSC’s Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL).

“We recognize that students come into university at different levels of competency; some weren’t taught certain core concepts in high school while others simply need a refresher course,” he says. “The modules are a way to help them overcome hurdles they may encounter.”

Developed by Irani and Zohreh Shahbazi, an Associate Professor in the Department of Computer and Mathematical Sciences at UTSC, the goal of the modules is to provide self-directed learning support for math skills development. Twelve modules cover foundational and advanced concepts.

The content that went into the modules was initially developed through review modules and the math preparedness course at the Math and Statistics Learning Centre, and has been refined over years of teaching and monitoring the progress of students in learning the subject.

“With these modules we’re presenting content in a form that is lively and engaging for students,” says Shahbazi. “It’s a new way to enhance their learning of mathematics.”

Each module contains an innovative and engaging animation that introduces concepts, while instructional videos cover mathematical concepts in a simple, natural and constructive way. Problem sets as well as diagnostic and assessment tests determine which concepts students need help with the most.

The main benefit of the modules is in their flexibility.

“They can be used in multiple learning contexts,” says Shahbazi. “If a student needs help in one particular application like trigonometry they can use the trigonometry module, or they can use all 12 modules as a preparation course depending on their needs.”

The project, which received a $75,000 grant from the Government of Ontario’s Shared Online Course Fund, is already available to use. 

© University of Toronto Scarborough