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MERLOT II


    

Peer Review


Self-Assess Algebra Review

by Steve Phelps
 

Ratings

Overall Rating:

4 stars
Content Quality: 3.5 stars
Effectiveness: 4 stars
Ease of Use: 4 stars
Reviewed: Oct 20, 2012 by Mathematics
Overview: This site is a collection of Geobrebra learning objects that students can use to review and practice working with lines and a few other algebra and geometry concepts
Learning Goals: To review equations of lines and other basic algebra concepts.
Target Student Population: Students who are in or reviewing beginning algebra.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: A basic knowledge of linear equations
Type of Material: Collection
Recommended Uses: Demonstrations, Homework and Displays. This learning object can be used as a tool to review for an algebra assessment test of for a student coming back to math after a break.
Technical Requirements: JAVA Plugin

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 3.5 stars
Strengths: This is a collection of about 12 activities that use the Geobebra tool to review several aspects of lines, some basics of parabolas and the quadratic formula. Also included are activities relating to Heron’s formula and using the inverse tangent function to find an angle. The activities allow for geometric exploration. The student can move the point or lines and observe how the new coordinates relate to the equation being worked on. The student can choose whether to view or not to view the answer and the work to get to the answer. The layout of the activities is easy to read and manipulate and the index page is also well designed. The collection provides a great opportunity for students to quickly move from graphing one problem to another by simply moving the points. Strengths include that graphs are clear and easy to read, the slope is presented as a fraction and a decimal, and the hint demonstrates the simplification of the slope formula.
Concerns: Although answers and hints are provided, no explanation for the formulas or other explanations are included. It doesn’t not appear that the scaling or the area displayed can be changed, so the student is limited to numbers within the predetermined area. If the points are accidentally dragged off the charted area, the applet becomes useless and needs to be reloaded as there is no way to regain control. Also, the topics included are not necessarily the most important topics for a student reviewing algebra. For example Heron’s formula is not an essential topic and the inverse tangent is not introduced in an algebra class.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 4 stars
Strengths: This collection can be used by students who learn using hands on exploration. The activities are meant as supplements for students who learn by exploring. An instructor can assign these for activities to be done at home or as in class demonstrations. The graphs are printable which means they can be used for class demonstration, display, and homework purposes.
Concerns: The activity on solving systems by substitution has a problem with its hint when one of the lines is vertical. Without any explanation of why the formulas are used, students may not learn why the formulas work. Same limit as mentioned above with not being either scalable or having a way to change the area.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 4 stars
Strengths: These activities each focus on a single concept so that the student will not be overwhelmed. There are simple instructions to follow and generally involve just clicking a few checkboxes and dragging a point. The home page is easy to navigate and there are very few technical issues to overcome. The drag and drop nature of moving the points means the program could be used by students with various ability levels and/or disabling conditions.
Concerns: Although it is easy for the students to move the points and check the boxes, there is no general help that guides the student through the concepts of the algebra. A student who gets stuck will most likely stay stuck without the help of an instructor or classmates. The fact that points are not labeled and instead require that students be able to read the point position is a minor concern.