Learning Mathematics in the Asynchronous and Blended Environment: Beyond the Textbook

Concurrent Session 4

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Much has been written about the application of learning science and best practices in synchronous mathematics education. In this interactive session, participants will explore how these ideas can be extended to students in the asynchronous and blended mathematics classroom through effective technology.

Extended Abstract

In today’s learning environments, students and educators are looking for ways to engage and learn that go beyond the textbook. How can we bring the exploration, engagement,  and explanation process that has been successful in synchronous education to the asynchronous environment? In what ways can we design environments and curriculum to incorporate what we know about how learning works? And how can we continuously improve to best support learners and meet institutional goals centered around diversity, equity, and inclusion?

Much research and writing have been devoted to the learning strategies of retrieval practice, spaced practice, and peer instruction. In synchronous mathematics education, it is common to design courses that attend to these strategies. Examples include having students’ complete summaries at the end of class to practice retrieval, holding class several times a week to space out learning and practice, and creating rich discussions where students can develop conceptual understanding by discussing the material rather than reading or listening to an expert. In the asynchronous world, students generally have less structured opportunities to retrieve, discuss, and space out their practice. How can we nudge students in these environments to leverage the strategies that are known to support their learning?

In addition to what is known about learning strategies more globally, there also exists significant research in the best practices for teaching mathematics. The Mathematics Associate of America (MAA) has consolidated much of this research into their Instructional Practices Guide. Most of the guidance provided in this report is tailored to synchronous, in-person instruction, but can be implemented, with the right technology, in the asynchronous classroom. Specific examples of this guidance include collaborative learning and peer instruction, exploratory activities using technology, attending to equity, and assessing students’ conceptual understanding apart from their procedural fluency.

For asynchronous education, the environment and resources that students have access to drive their learning pathway. In order to implement the above strategies and practices, the learning environment must be carefully tailored with these goals in mind. Leveraging platforms that allow these goals to be accomplished through customization is essential for developing a learning pathway that is grounded in these best practices for learning mathematics.

In this interactive session, participants will discuss ways of including principles of learning theory to better support students in asynchronous environments. Participants will also have the opportunity to explore and experience how this technology is being implemented in asynchronous courses at one university with tremendous results.

Level of Participation:

This session is structured to allow for examples of how learning platforms are being leveraged at one university to support learning in asynchronous mathematics courses. Attendees will have the opportunity to engage in the student view of a demo course to experience how a learner would interact within a platform asynchronously. Participants should bring an internet-connected device (laptop) to explore the environment.

Session Goals:

Individuals attending this educational session will be able to:

  • Identify how platforms can support asynchronous student exploration

  • Discuss how theories of learning can be leveraged in the asynchronous environment

  • Discuss how best practices in synchronous mathematics instruction can be extended to asynchronous education