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MERLOT II


    

Peer Review


MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive

 

Ratings

Overall Rating:

5 stars
Content Quality: 5 stars
Effectiveness: 5 stars
Ease of Use: 5 stars
Reviewed: Jul 19, 2002 by Mathematics
Overview: This site is a rich and growing source of materials pertaining to the history of mathematics including biographies of mathematicians, mathematics in various cultures, time lines, famous curves (with Java interactivity), overview of math history, in-depth coverage of a large number of history topics, and more. Individual pages contain many cross-links and material is well written and useful for both casual and experienced users. There is also a searchable quotation index as well as a selection of topics on the history of mathematics education and Indian mathematics. Faculty as well as students will find much here to enrich their mathematical understanding and enjoyment. Please see the related reviews of the sites href="http://www.merlot.org/artifact/PeerReviewDetail.po?rOid=1400000000000020119">Galileo
Galilei, href="http://www.merlot.org/artifact/PeerReviewDetail.po?rOid=1400000000000020117">Sir
Isaac Newton, and href="http://www.merlot.org/artifact/PeerReviewDetail.po?rOid=1400000000000020118">Archimedes
of Syracuse.
Learning Goals: Resource material for student papers on general math/history/mathematicians. Classroom enrichment for instructors.
Target Student Population: General arts students with little mathematical knowledge or advanced users wanting to investigate the history of mathematics.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: None.
Type of Material: Reference material
Technical Requirements: Most of the materials simply require a browser; to view the interactive Java applets for famous curves, the browser must be Java-enabled. Java applets work fine on Windows operating systems; however, they do not seem to work using Macintosh operating systems and Netscape Navigator.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: Comprehensive to the point of encyclopedic; very rich source of materials. Useful for both experienced and casual student users. Initial biography articles are nicely written and easy to read. Each article also includes a summary and assorted pictures.
This site is an effective gateway for students to research math history and biographies with rich internal and external links and many viewpoints.
Concerns: The biography pages are fairly heavy on social and family history but they do include many links for those who want to follow up on more of the math details.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: The site contains many features designed to motivate the casual student user with appealing approaches or visuals--for example, birthplace maps and anniversary dates for mathematicians, including a mathematician of the day feature. The site promotes diversity by featuring female mathematicians and mathematics in a variety of cultures. There is a good ability to approach material from different angles--for example, to search biographies alphabetically, chronologically, or visually by map location.
I have observed that many of my students use this site as a reference for assigned papers and comment that they find it useful. Excellent both for researching specific questions and general browsing about mathematics and mathematicians.
Concerns: So much material that students might get overwhelmed.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: Main page features an online help page, a new user page, and a contact page, plus a recent changes page for returning users. Takes great advantage of "web" concept, with lots of links and cross-references both internal and external--definitely not linear! Powerful search engine for more serious users. Also has the ability to search in several subtopic areas and to print out complete content lists if desired. Clearly designed with both new and repeat users in mind. Has been around for many years and continues to evolve in terms of both content and features.
Concerns: Intreractive JAVA on famous curves didn't run on a number of Mac operating systems with Netscape as a browser. Otherwise seemed stable and fast - especially the search engine.