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MERLOT II


    

Peer Review


Graph Theory Lessons

 

Ratings

Overall Rating:

5 stars
Content Quality: 5 stars
Effectiveness: 5 stars
Ease of Use: 5 stars
Reviewed: Jun 02, 2006 by Mathematics
Overview: This applet includes a comprehensive series of 24 lessons in graph theory,
including complete graphs, graph coloring, Hamiltonian Circuits, Euler Circuits,
spanning trees, and others.
Learning Goals: Understand graph theory concepts including definitions of terms, properties and
applications.
Target Student Population: Undergraduate graph theory and discrete mathematics courses.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: None, provided the user follows the lessons in sequence, the lessons define all
the terms and definitions.
Type of Material: Tutorial & simulation
Recommended Uses: Classroom demo, student tutorials
Technical Requirements: JAVA 2 enabled browser, Peterson software

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: The lessons are well sequenced and include all the expected topics in
introductory graph theory. Instructions and definitions are clear and followed
by examples for the user to follow, both in the applet and using the Peterson
software. Lessons reinforce concepts defined in earlier lessons, increasing
retention. The Peterson software allows the student to select one of dozens of
standard graphs or to create their own. It analyzes the graph for all of the
features that an elementary graph theory student would be interested in.

The author forwarded an exam copy of the Peterson software for completion of the
review. It was excellent in its instruction, but limited to 16 vertices.
Occasionally, a lesson requested use of a larger number of vertices than the
program could accommodate, but using a smaller number was equally instructive.
The complete version of Peterson software is available from the author for $15
and accommodates 64 vertices.
Concerns: There are no real concerns regarding the applet or the Peterson software. The
Peterson software is not available commercially and information on its purchase
is not readily available. The reviewers contacted the author for an exam copy
and found the order form on the menu under the heading “About”.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: This applet is excellent as a tutorial or as a resource for a course in graph
theory. It could serve as the centerpiece of an online course or as a
supplement for a traditional course in graph theory. Each lesson is designed to
introduce the concept with definitions and examples. The user is instructed to
create specific graphs and determine their properties. The user is then sent
to the Peterson software to verify these properties with more complex graphs. A
series of questions are provided in each lesson that complement the topic and
connect the lesson to the previous ones. Answers are provided that are clear
and concise. In some lessons, applications are given that enable the user to
apply the graph theory.

The lessons build on previous lessons and definitions. The lessons are
extremely well sequenced and interrelated so that the concepts in earlier
lessons are reinforced. The instructor must be cautioned not to arbitrarily
assign a particular applet without verifying that all other terms used in that
applet have been previously introduced.
Concerns: none

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: The navigation is excellent with forward and back buttons used to move from one
lesson to another. It is equally easy to move from the lesson page to the
answer page and back. The Quick Directions included on the main page provide
instructions for each command in the Peterson software. Instructions needed for
each lesson are also given within the text of that lesson.

Drawing the vertices and edges are easy and the user can easily modify a graph
without starting over. The Peterson software has a menu interface and is also
very easy to use.
Concerns: For some computers, the vertices of the generated null graph and complete graph
lie outside of the visible area and cannot be moved without using the menu item
picture -> size -> smaller.

Other Issues and Comments: