Teaching College Algebra Online: Student Characteristics

At the beginning of the semester, I asked students in my online class to introduce themselves in the forums.  One tiny thing that I’m very glad I did was ask students to mention in their introduction why they were taking this course online.  When I designed the course, I expected it to be full of nontraditional students, people with families and full-time jobs.  I did have some of those, but not nearly as many as I expected.  I’ve pulled the following from the students’ introductions:

I decided to take this class online because I need another mathematics credit to switch from a BA to a BS degree, and with 16 credit hours no other classes seemed to fit into my schedule!

I’m taking it online because I’m taking a lot of hours as well!

I’m a Math Major, Senior, taking this class as an elective and as a refresher since I want to teach high school.

I am also a Senior and taking this class as an elective.

I’m a 3rd year PR person and currently working with a band out of Austin. online courses are much easier to accomplish while on the road!

I am taking this class online because I live in San Antonio and this will save me a lot of time and fuel.

I also live in San Antonio and need the flexibility. I commute two days a week for other classes, so this online course saves me from sitting in a classroom!

The reason I am taking this class online is because I do not live in San Marcos anymore. But math is extremely difficult for me so I hope taking it online isn’t too hard.

I’m taking this semester from home and will be returning to the San Marcos campus in the fall. Since I live in The Woodlands, online was kind of the only option 🙂

I live in Austin and work part-time waiting tables, so I decided it would be easier (time-wise) for me to take this class online. So far I really enjoy having the free time, not being in the classroom, that it makes doing the homework not as arduous. I also like watching the lectures online because they go slower and break it down by the sections. Hopefully the lectures continue to be this thorough.

I decided to take this course online because the class wouldn’t fit into my schedule and thought it would be a good way to save gas if i took it online!

I’m taking 16 hours this semester to get into the program next fall, which is why I decided to take this class online. I like the flexibility because I also work and have a puppy.

I am taking this class online because I’m taking a lot of in class hours and it’s easier for me to study math on my own.

I commute from Round Rock on MWF if anyone might want to pitch in for gas Id be happy to pick them up..Carpooling is cool.

I decided to take this course online because I feel that I learn better when teaching myself compared with sitting in a traditional classroom.

I would definitely agree on the choice for taking online classes. I would rather take online classes than take traditional classes, especially since most classes are a good 45 minute driver w/o traffic from where I live. I also like being able to have some flexibility since I work a full time job. It’s nice to make your own schedule for when you do your homework for the most part.

I live in New Braunfels with my husband and 3 awesome kids who are 10, 12, and almost 14.  I work Monday-Friday from 8-5, so online classes tend to be easier for me. Luckily, Texas State has offered a lot of my classes either at night or online, which works out well.

[I’m] in the online experience as I travel for work and can’t really commit to a set class schedule.

I am currently enrolled in a 9 hour block course off campus so I was looking for a class to take that wouldn’t make me drive all the way into campus this semester and I enjoy math so this class seemed like a good fit.

I chose the online class because it’s easier for me to work more hours at my job with an online class.

I also work and this course allows for the flexibility I need.

I decided to take the class online because it helped make my schedule work for the semester.

I only had a couple classes left, so I am commuting from San Antonio and needed the flexibility of the online course. I learn math by teaching myself so this is a good way to take a math class.

I have an extremely busy schedule so I felt like this was the best way to take this class.

I live in Taylor.  For those of you that don’t know, that is about 20 minutes northeast of Austin.  Obviously, it would be about a two hour drive to get to San Marcos.  I normally attend online or at the Round Rock campus.

Hoping to finish up my undergraduate work this semester at Texas State, and taking online college algebra was the most convenient way to do that.

Online classes are really my only option as I live and work in Austin and San Marcos is quite a hike for me.

I took on a couple of online classes because I live in Austin and work in Lakeway so I thought it be smart to save on gas.

I chose taking this class online because it works well with my schedule.

(For those not familiar with Texas geography, the main campus of Texas State University is in San Marcos, a small town halfway between Austin and San Antonio.  We have a small satellite campus in Round Rock, about 50 miles north.  The Round Rock campus offers only certain types of courses, which does not include freshman- or sophomore-level math.)

I know that, as a university we have a lot of students that commute from all over central/south Texas, but I was surprised that so many students wanted to take an online class for that reason.  Even more surprising to me were the traditional students, generally on campus, who took the class to fit into their schedule.

I suspect that at least some students took the class believing that it would be easier, with watered down content.  Of course, no one said that in their introduction in the discussion forums, but then they wouldn’t, would they?

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2 thoughts on “Teaching College Algebra Online: Student Characteristics

  1. yvonneeileen says:

    Perhaps the American student, due to most high schools and middle schools already offering online courses, no longer harbors that misconception; however, we may be dealing with it in our middle school students this year since this is the first year we are offering distant learning. Also we are a very rural, Georgia school system. Many of our students still don’t have home technology or Internet access. Another thing that is different with our students is that for the last 10 years, many of them in the elementary level have been learning using computers at school. The change that I suppose will be more logical in the near future is the traditional, class-attending learner being the norm will gradually diminish.

    Then what will we do? For myself, I am preparing for the job switch as well as my students for their challenge ahead. This is something I saw in the late 1970’s at Epcot Center in Orlando, Florida in “Carousel of Progress” sponsored by GE where miniature classrooms built in the home were a norm of the future. It is the future, after all. I have always dreamed of having a touch screen desk where students watched presentations, read electronic books, took online tests, and scheduled tutoring help (funny how in my fantasy, they are still sitting in their desks).

    Today, all my students in eighth grade writing students turn all their work in on Google docs. I evaluate them online and paste a writing rubric at the end of the doc with comments. In addition, my students take instructional surveys on Google docs about my instruction in order for me to serve them better. Next year, they will also be taking all quizzes online with a tracking program that gives us both information in mastery of our standards/targets. I create for them an environment that is electronically friendly–they can bring their own smart phones, laptops, and tablets–and paper hostile. While I still take paper copies of their work, they know each time that its not my preference (frown face with lowered, drawn eyebrows). Even when I help them from home to home, I insist that they go online with me to discuss their work. My students and their parents, 97% of them, accept this willingly.

  2. Christopher says:

    I have not taught on online college class yet. But I watch and listen carefully. The number of responses involving “taking 16 credits already” is of note. From the writer’s perspective, this may well be about scheduling flexibility. As an instructor, it is probably a bit of a red flag. This class is being taken online because the student is already overburdened by the remainder of the schedule.

    It will be interesting to see how course completion correlates with this introductory statement.

    Thanks for sharing your journey. It is super interesting.

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