Implementing a Key Skills in Mathematics Initiative

Paul Robinson

 Institute of Technology Tallaght

 The drive towards mass education, and the year on year fall in popularity of technical based subjects in Ireland (and other western countries), has created cohorts of students in many technical courses who are ill-equipped to succeed on those courses. Compounding this problem is the fact that most students in Ireland are now on semesterized courses, which seems to encourage students to learn enough for the regular examinations, without necessarily taking time to reflect on what they have learnt. Whilst addressing the needs of these students is multi-faceted, we would like to describe the construction of a Moodle-based initiative called Key Skills Testing in Mathematics. Using the Moodle platform, Key Skills consists of;

  1. creating many categories of multi-choice and numerical input questions which we believe our cohorts of students MUST be able to do. Each question comes with feedback and reference to a book chapter and an electronic resource.
  2. creating tests which draw randomly from particular categories of questions. These tests may be repeated several times over a semester and only a high mark is rewarded with credit.
  3. students must complete a reflection sheet describing their engagement with any problems they got wrong in a previous attempt, before being allowed to do the next test.
  4. different tests run for different groups and in different semesters, reflecting the Key Skills of previously taught material required for that semester.

The aim is for students to expect Key Skills in each semester, re-inforcing and repeating their learning. This project is now in its 4th its first year. We would like to describe the development process and to present our material as a “how to do it” kit. Each question category together with upload instructions, additional files like images, and any tools used in the creation of questions, will be presented as learning objects. The whole Moodle course complete with tests will be presented as a learning object, as will detailed documentation on creating and managing such materials in Moodle.   

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