Tuesday, February 26, 2002

Math students learn online

By Gina Buccino
Enquirer Contributor

        HAMILTON TOWNSHIP — Calculus students at Little Miami High School are counting on WeBWork — a new program offered through 30 universities nationally — to give them an early jump on college math.

        WeBWork is a software package being used by the high school for the first time this year. The program, offered through Ohio State University, allows students to tackle college calculus problems via the Internet.

        The program is not part of the grade that students receive in their calculus class. But it does help students who plan to take the Advanced Placement test in May. Students who earn a 3 or higher, out of a possible 5, can receive college credit.

        Little Miami calculus instructor Rick Lovins chooses calculus problems from a database and contacts Ohio State University via e-mail, where instructors will create an assignment for a student. Students are then given a timeframe to complete the assignment.

        Students can work on their problems over the Internet anytime and get instant feedback on whether the answer is right or wrong. Students can submit their answers as often as they like, without penalty.

        Mr. Lovinssets a day aside during the week to answer a student's questions, or they can also e-mail him questions.

        “It's difficult for them, but they like the challenge,” said Mr. Lovins, who has taught at the high school for three years. “It gives them an idea on the type of math problems students will tackle in college."

        WeBWork was developed by the University of Rochester in New York in 1995. In Ohio, Cleveland State University, the University of Akron and Ohio State offer the program. Mr. Lovins said he received a letter from Ohio State in September, asking whether the Little Miami High School faculty would be interested in the program. He said he believes Little Miami is one of a only a handful of schools in this region participating.

        Casey Martin, a senior at Little Miami, feels the program will help her when she attends college to major in elementary education.

        “I enjoy math in general,” she said. “The program is challenging and fun.”

        “With the program, you learn by trial and error,” said senior Heather Wolfe.

        Senior Rebecca Loomis, who plans to major in commercial music in college, said she liked the program because it's customized for each student and there is no pressure to see who can finish the problem first.


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