Authentic Contexts for Online Math Discussions

Concurrent Session 2
Streamed Session

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Brief Abstract

The COVID19 pandemic has produced datasets and statistics on a world-wide scale and yet also on a more personal local scale.  By connecting authentic real-world data in online math discussions, non-math major students can learn mathematical understanding and meaning to the incomprehensible changes resulting in our world from this pandemic. 

Presenters

Kirsten K. Meymaris is a faculty member at Purdue University Global, Mathematics Department, with over 18 years of experience in online education. Kirsten has experience in a diversity of roles in online education including developing course content; managing and maintaining online course software; and direct facilitation of online courses. She joined the PG team as an adjunct faculty member in 2009 and became full time in 2014, having taught almost every class offered in the math department. Kirsten has degrees in both mathematics and computer science with an emphasis in educational technology.

Extended Abstract

Authentic real-world contexts are genuine problems addressing situations occurring outside of the classroom.  These open-ended and often ill-defined problems are not typically used as online discussion prompts in the math classroom as they are sometimes messy to calculate and harder to anticipate how mathematics will solve them.  And yet, these are the types of examples that should be shared and practiced in order to see the interconnected nature of mathematics within our real world (Felton, 2014).  Discussion forums are omnipresent in online courses with the potential benefits of facilitating critical thinking and the ability to support arguments with evidence (Szabo & Schwartz, 2011).  Using authentic real-world context and data provides the opportunity to see the usefulness of the skills and algorithms historically taught in textbooks.

The COVID19 pandemic has produced datasets and statistics on a world-wide scale but also on a more personal local scale, easily accessible to all via Internet.  This data is well suited to be analyzed, interpreted, and appreciated in basic college algebra and beginning statistics classes.  By connecting authentic real-world data in online math discussions, non-math major students can learn mathematical understanding and meaning to the incomprehensible changes resulting in our world from this pandemic. 

Participants will interact via role play and leave with:

  1.  An appreciation of COVID19 datasets and statistics on a world-wide scale as well as a local geographic scale.
  2. Successful strategies for creating authentic and effective prompts for online discussions forums.

Felton, M. (2014, July 7). Mathematics and the Real World - National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. Www.Nctm.Org. https://www.nctm.org/Publications/Mathematics-Teaching-in-Middle-School/...

‌ Szabo, Z., & Schwartz, J. (2011). Learning methods for teacher education: The use of online discussions to improve critical thinking. Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 20, 79–94. http://dx.doi .org/10.1080/1475939X.2010.534866