COW Project Provides Powerful Interactive Teaching Tool On The World Wide Web

March 13, 1998

Temple University mathematics professors Dan Reich and Gerardo Mendoza are providing free access to their COW. That is, to their "Calculus on the Web" Internet site, an interactive teaching tool for college and high school students in introductory calculus classes.

With 123 different program modules and thousands of available problems, the site is being used by Temple students as a way to submit their homework assignments and study for exams. Though some students were initially resistant to working on-line, after the second or third week of the semester "they apparently love it," according to Reich. In fact, when a student was injured in an automobile accident last semester and forced to withdraw from classes, he was able to keep up with his calculus work by using the COW from his hospital bed.

Reich and Mendoza have found that the COW works best when it is used to explain the fundamentals of concepts and functions. "The COW takes the skill development load off of class time and puts it where it belongs--at home," Reich explains. Each student who has trouble with a specific type of problem can get intensive help with that concept outside of class, freeing classroom time for professors to develop theory and investigate more complex subjects with their students.

Both professors are great believers in the teaching potential of the Internet, but argue that its power "does not lie in static pages . . . there must be an intelligence on the other side." All the calculus problems on their site are accompanied by graphics and explanatory material. Some are entirely pictorial thought experiments in which the student "plays" with equations, and some ask the user to pose a problem of their own.

"The most important thing is that the students get immediate feedback so they know exactly where they went wrong," explains Reich. Such feedback is, of course, unavailable from standard calculus textbooks, which merely list the answers to select questions. "Multiple choice is cheap and easy and beneath the COW's notice."

Since introducing the program, Reich and Mendoza have noted a significant increase in student enthusiasm and retention, and are eager to see the end-of-semester results. Other college professors and high school teachers have also responded very favorably to the COW, and the Temple professors have been advising them on how to integrate the program into their own lesson plans.

The COW's code is written using the PERL string-processing language and the MAPLE mathematics analysis package. The incorporation of these large and complicated components, as well as the sheer number of modules accessible by the program, makes the web the only reasonable venue for the COW. Neither professor sees immediate commercial development in the COW's future--they just hope that it will be widely used by teachers and students "in any university, in any high school class."

The Alliance for Minority Projects, The National Science Foundation, and Temple University share that hope and have provided substantial financial support for the project. With funding through the year 2000, Reich and Mendoza plan to expand their battery of modules to include pre-calculus, as well as more advanced calculus classes.

Students, teachers, or anyone who craves a calculus flashback can visit the COW at www.math.temple.edu/~cow.
-end-


Temple University

Related Teachers Articles from Brightsurf:

AI teachers must be effective and communicate well to be accepted, new study finds
The increase in online education has allowed a new type of teacher to emerge -- an artificial one.

Future teachers more likely to view black children as angry, even when they are not
A new study of prospective teachers finds that they are more likely to interpret the facial expressions of Black boys and girls as being angry, even when the children are not angry.

Prospective teachers misperceive Black children as angry
Prospective teachers appear more likely to misperceive Black children as angry than white children, which may undermine the education of Black youth, according to new research published by the American Psychological Association.

Children who have difficult relationships with their moms are clingy towards teachers
Children who experience 'dependent' or clingy relationships with their preschool teachers tend to also have difficulties in their relationships with their mothers finds researchers at the NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development.

Research finds teachers just as likely to have racial bias as non-teachers
Research released today challenges the notion that teachers might be uniquely equipped to instill positive racial attitudes in children or bring about racial justice, without additional support or training from schools.

Young teachers happier but say hard work is unrewarded
Newly qualified teachers report higher levels of wellbeing and life satisfaction compared to other graduates, but are more likely to say hard work in Britain is unrewarded, according to UCL research.

Robots can learn how to support teachers in class sessions
New research conducted at the University of Plymouth shows that a robot can be programmed to progressively learn autonomous behaviour from human demonstrations and guidance.

Preschool teachers ask children too many simple questions
When preschool teachers read books in their classrooms, the questions they ask play a key role in how much children learn, research has shown.

Teachers predict pupil success just as well as exam scores
New research from King's College London finds that teacher assessments are equally as reliable as standardised exams at predicting educational success.

Teachers and Trump
Teachers felt immense pressure from school leaders and families to respond in a certain way -- or not at all -- in their classrooms following the 2016 presidential election, according to new research from Michigan State University.

Read More: Teachers News and Teachers Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.