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MERLOT II


    

Peer Review


Algebra Study Guide with Videos

by John Redden
 

Ratings

Overall Rating:

4.5 stars
Content Quality: 4.25 stars
Effectiveness: 4.75 stars
Ease of Use: 4.5 stars
Reviewed: Aug 13, 2013 by Mathematics
Overview: This is an online study guide designed to complement an algebra course. It contains explanations mainly in the form of problem solutions, in both text form and video form. The videos depict electronic “paper and pencil.” There are a few interactive activities also.
Learning Goals: To supplement learning algebra from a textbook using examples of how to solve problems in elementary and intermediate algebra.
Target Student Population: Students in beginning and intermediate algebra.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: Pre-Algebra.
Type of Material: Presentation of problem solutions. Additional drill and practice.
Recommended Uses: Supplement to lecture and homework. Test preparation.
Technical Requirements: Any modern browser.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 4.25 stars
Strengths: This site self describes as a study guide and video tutorial to be used in addition to a textbook. There are links to a possible online textbook. The site contains all of the standard topics that are included in elementary (7 chapters) and intermediate algebra (6 chapters.) Included are hundreds of solved problems in both video and text format. The focus is on problem solving although each topic includes a brief discussion of the concepts. The videos are easy to follow but include references to concepts and rules only contained in the textbook.
Concerns: The solutions to the problems are handwritten and some errors were found (second example of y-intercept/concavity in the parabolas section). Explanations on the video are brief enough to have potential for confusion (for example, an Order of Operations problem implies that multiplication comes before division). Since the material uses representative problems rather than textual explanation, coverage of core concepts is limited. Use of an accompanying textbook would be important.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 4.75 stars
Strengths: Algebra students can freely use this collection to guide them through problems that are similar to the standard problems that appear in algebra homework sets. There is a large quantity of content with about twenty representative problems per chapter.
Concerns: The very quantity and diversity of material could be hard to us3e unless the student and/or teacher is diligent in cross referencing to appropriate concept explanations and rules in a related text or classroom. The interactive activities include a completely unrelated set of Calculus topics.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 4.5 stars
Strengths: The site is clearly presented and fairly easy to navigate. It is reasonably well organized and follows the same order that most algebra classes follow. However, there are internal inconsistencies in chapter numbering and elementary/intermediate designation between the Table of Contents page where Intermediate Algebra chapters are not numbered, and the video listings.
Concerns: The video relies on the automatic closed captioning that comes with the YouTube site. These closed captions are woefully inadequate and access to the hearing impaired is suspect. The intent of some problems is unclear until the video is accessed – for example “-5a^2 + ab -2b^2 – 3” turns out to be a question about coefficients although there is no mention of this in the original question listing.