Examining the effectiveness of interactive mathlets in a web enhanced math course

Wayne Lee Holt, Tennessee State University


This study investigated the effectiveness of mathlets to teach mathematical concepts in a web enhanced university liberal arts math course. Participants were 33 liberal arts majors, 22 women and 11 men, ages 19 to 30, enrolled in two sections of Tennessee State University's Contemporary Math 1013 during fall 2008. Math 1013 was a problem solving course incorporating interactive mathlets which illustrated the major course concepts. Instruments were a course pretest and a posttest final, two controlled tests, and students' total point scores. Participants also filled out a questionnaire at the start of course and a survey at the end of course. Wilcoxon T tests compared pretests and posttests, but no significant differences were found. Students seemed to remember no concepts covered in the course. Two controlled experiments tested concept transference to new contexts. Mann-Whitney U tests compared scores of treatment and control groups, but there were no significant differences. Both treatment and control groups failed to apply test concepts to new situations. ANOVAs and t tests compared scores among 12 student majors. Students whose majors required exhibition of skills—such as in music, art, and sports—scored significantly higher on the posttest and in total course points. A Kruskal-Wallis H test, however, showed no significant differences. Spearman rank tests correlated 5 survey answers to 4 student scores and to each other. Those who viewed mathlets as easy tended to make significantly higher final and total scores. Self-efficacies were also correlated with student scores. Test 1 scores correlated significantly with those who rated themselves higher playing musical instruments, but no scores correlated to playing video, board, or card games. Mann-Whitney U tests compared student scores to student experience playing video games, board games, card games, and musical instruments. Total point scores differed significantly between those who played musical instruments and those who did not. These findings suggest that mathlets should not be relied on to reinforce lower order thinking such as memory, understanding, and application. However, for students preconditioned to evaluation by exhibition of their skills, mathlets may be effective in motivating higher order thinking necessary for creative problem solving.

Subject Area

Mathematics education|Educational technology|Curriculum development

Recommended Citation

Wayne Lee Holt, "Examining the effectiveness of interactive mathlets in a web enhanced math course" (2009). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI3356141.