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You can also hear Marcus Nilsson talk about his experiences using here.
With over 40 degree programmes and 500 courses in English, Linnaeus University is known for its strong international profile. The Swedish university has partner universities in more than 60 countries around the world and has over 2,000 international exchange students every year.
Marcus Nilsson is the head of the mathematics department at Linnaeus. His teaching duties include teaching courses such as linear algebra, number theory and mathematical cryptography. Apart from that, Marcus also oversees most matters concerning teacher education at the faculty of technology.
Linneaus has a number of introductory mathematics courses across their degree programs that are targeted at engineering students, teacher education students and bachelor students in Mathematics, Physics and Computer Science. For the summer of 2020, Marcus and his team were working on introducing a summer course called ‘Preparatory Mathematics’ to better prepare these students for the mathematical components of their respective degrees.
Since the summer course was to be seen as a general mathematics preparatory course for students regardless of their chosen degree programme, Marcus expected to have to deal with a quite large cohort. This meant he needed to figure out a time efficient way to administer online tests and exams for a very large group of incoming students. Apart from adequately supporting the students, his key priority here was also to make sure he didn’t overload his team of teachers.
Based on his experience with the other courses, Marcus was also looking for a way to provide students different and new training possibilities when it came to mathematics. He found that the traditional ways of teaching through lectures/seminars and assigning textbook exercises didn’t really activate students and teachers were finding it difficult to keep the students engaged. So Marcus was not just looking for different training possibilities, he was looking specifically for training possibilities that could potentially engage and motivate his students better.
Marcus ended up using our tool to administer all the tests and examinations that were linked with the summer course:
“It was two tests and a final exam. Most of the exercises in these tests were auto-corrected but we also used assistants to correct some of the solutions from the students”
In order to manage the summer course, Marcus created a team of 4 teachers including himselfs who were tasked with the course administration and creating mathematical exercises using our tool.
Apart from using it in the summer course, Marcus also ended up using our tool for an engineering mathematics course that happened in the fall.
“This was more of a traditional course. First week we were training the students in simple exercises and it was more or less test type exercises they could do over and over again due to the randomization.”
What Marcus here means by randomization is the fact that all our exercises contain variables which are randomizable. What this essentially does is provide the students with endless practice material. So instead of having set values or variables in exercises, teachers can use a computer algorithm to randomly generate a particular type of exercise an endless amount of times. “The students were not given real credits for this but given something called bonus credits. So if they did well on this test, they could get bonus credits on the written exam”
“If you look at the course evaluations you can see that the students are very satisfied with this setting. I guess it’s because it’s young students and they are used to these sort of technical devices from highschool and also the results were good in this course, better than we expected.”
Marcus also found that the bonus credits system for the engineering course was a great addition. Almost all the students in the class made use of this opportunity and as a result they were also more engaged throughout the whole course.
When reflecting on his time using and working with our tool, these were Marcus’s final comments and tips to other teachers when it comes to creating your own digital tests:
“My advice is to start creating simple exercises. We more or less focused on creating exercises for tests and we focused on exercises that didn’t need too much graphics and so on. That’s how we started learning. So don’t be afraid, just start using it and learn the full capacity of it later.”
Looking towards the new semester in 2021, Marcus is looking forward to learning more about the intricacies of the tool and to moving closer to using its full capacity.