A matched-pairs study of interactive computer laboratory activities in a liberal arts math course

Frederick Butler, Melanie Butler


This paper details the culmination of a large, multi-year study on the effects of an interactive computer laboratory component in a large liberal arts math course at a state university. After several semesters of piloting these laboratory activities in the course, one of two sections, taught by the same senior instructor, was randomly selected to devote approximately one-third of class time to these activities. The other section was used as a control, with the students receiving a lecture on the same material as was explored in the lab activities. Both sections had approximately 220 students. Of these, 42 students from each section of the course were matched on cumulative GPA, math SAT subscore, year in college, and college math background. The pairs were compared via performance on various course components, and on a pre to post assessment designed to measure problem solving abilities. The two course sections were also compared on an inventory of attitudes toward mathematics. The study found that the interactive laboratory activities may provide some benefits to the students, in terms of learning goals and attitudes toward mathematics.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.14742/ajet.965