The experiences of first-year students in mathematics in using an e-learning platform at a university of technology

A.M. Msomi, S. Bansilal

Abstract


Abstract

Universities of technology in South Africa have been trying to provide effective and flexible learning experiences to cater for the influx of students enrolling in the institutions who come from diverse educational backgrounds. One of the challenges arising from their diverse educational backgrounds is their poor background in the use of technologies for teaching and learning. The teaching of mathematics, particularly, is made more difficult because of the large number of students who have many misconceptions as a result of problems from the basic education that they were part of, for a period of 12 years. Consequently, a number of them do not make it to the mainstream education system due to poor performance in first-year mathematics. The purpose of the study on which this article reports was to determine the impact that an e-learning platform could have on mathematics first-year students when used as a supplement to the traditional methods of teaching. The study utilised quantitative and qualitative methods, with the qualitative data being used to interpret and make sense of the quantitative data. Participants were 35 first-year students in the Department of Civil Engineering at a university of technology. Data were generated from questionnaires and focus group interviews. It was found that the actual use of the system is dependent not only on student behavioural intention to use the system, but external factors also contribute negatively to the actual system use. Some external factors that were identified include poor Internet connectivity, insufficient computers and an inflexible timetable. The study recommends that universities of technology should take greater care in designing their academic calendars, so that it alleviates instead of tighten the constraints under which students work.

 

 


Keywords


adoption, e-learning platform, perceptions, technology challenges, mathematics, engineering, first-year students, computer skills, the Internet

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.20853/32-5-2507

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