Did you know that algebra is one of the most failed courses for high school students? However, because it also serves as a gateway course to higher levels of math and it is required for graduation for most schools across the nation, it is extremely critical that students are provided with top-of-the-line instructional methods to help support their completion of the course.
To learn what students need to achieve success, we conducted extensive research around best practices in delivering online math instruction. Over the past year, we surveyed over 1,000 algebra teachers to ensure that our Edmentum Courseware is addressing the most challenging aspects of teaching the subject. We came to the conclusion that algebra courses need to provide students with:
- Inquiry – an engaging inquiry approach to building mathematical understanding
- Active learning – student-centered active learning
- Real-world application –concepts that apply to real-world relevance and experience
- Practice – courses that are loaded with practice resources available by lesson, unit, and semester
Our goal was to then infuse each of these objectives into the foundation of our algebra courses. Let’s take a deeper dive into one of the lessons to see how we’ve incorporated the learning benefits above.
Every lesson begins with a stated objective, ensuring that students fully understand expectations through a clear, concise statement.
Next, each lesson provides a warm-up which includes one to three interactions or questions. These warm-ups usually begin by asking students to draw from their existing knowledge and experience and then to act and reflect on something that prepares them for new learning. The warm-up will proceed by asking students to describe their approach to matching graphs with functions and descriptions. This touches on inquiry-based learning:
- Students first think about and describe their own thinking process
- Later, they refine their thinking through more experience and formal argument
- Finally, they reflect on their original predictions
Students then begin to build a deeper understanding through experimentation (active learning). Our algebra courses feature simple but powerful graphing tools for this purpose. In this activity, students use sliders to vary function parameters to meet specific criteria. This hands-on learning approach helps students gain a concrete understanding of how the parameters of functions (in different equation forms) affect their graphs.
Our algebra courses employ real-world examples whenever reasonable to provide a concrete context for the math and to convey clear relevance. This helps combat the age-old question from students, “Why do I need to learn this?”
Students are also provided with detailed work-through videos which take them through the concepts step-by-step. What we heard from the teachers we surveyed is that students need to be walked through the concepts with visual and audio aids and watch how problems unfold.
Lastly, we learned from the teachers we surveyed that students need more time to practice. Practice is an important concept to provide students with confidence and mastery of concepts. And, equally as important, students receive instructional feedback on why answer choices are right or wrong.
Our new algebra courses have been created directly from teacher feedback. You asked for more inquiry, active learning, real-world application, and practice—and we delivered. Our courses provide students with a rigorous, active, and engaging learning experience that is designed to empower every student to succeed. Interested in getting started with one of our new algebra courses? Talk to a solution specialist today!