Tariq, V. N. and Jackson, V.
Biomathtutor: evaluation of a new multimedia e-learning resource to support mathematics in the biosciences.
International Journal of Mathematical Education in Science and Technology, 39
The objective of this study was to evaluate biomathtutor by (i) investigating the impact of biomathtutor on the mathematics skills competencies of bioscience undergraduates, and (ii) assessing students' and tutors' reactions to biomathtutor, identifying whether and how tutors might integrate it into their curricula and blend it with more traditional teaching practices to enhance their students' learning experiences. A multi-method approach was adopted in which a quasi-experiment and non-experimental evaluation of biomathtutor were used to collect both quantitative and qualitative data, using mathematics tests, questionnaires, tutor interviews and student focus groups. Eighty-nine bioscience undergraduates and eight tutors participated in the study. A comparison of student performance in the quasi-experiment, which adopted a pre-test-intervention-post-test methodology, revealed no significant difference between pre-test and post-test scores for either the 'control' group (no intervention) or for any of the mathematics learning support interventions used, including biomathtutor. Despite the limitations of the quasi-experiment which are discussed, tutors' and their students' reactions towards biomathtutor were very positive, with both groups agreeing that biomathtutor represents a very well designed and useful learning resource that has a valuable role to play in supporting mathematics learning within bioscience curricula. Students felt that using biomathtutor had helped them acquire new biological and mathematical knowledge and had increased their competence and confidence in mathematics, with many students confirming that they would use biomathtutor again. Tutors felt it would be useful to embed biomathtutor, where possible, into their curricula, perhaps linking it to assessment strategies or integrating it with their current more traditional teaching practices. Students indicated that they too would like to see biomathtutor embedded within their curricula, primarily because it would motivate them to use the resource. Modifications to biomathtutor, which may need to be considered in light of any potential further development of this resource, are discussed.