Customer Story
European Case Study

Instant Feedback Helps Inuit Students Better Master Mathematics

Siobhan Paul
Siobhan Paul
Director, Global Marketing

Challenge

The distance learning courses offered by KTI’s Sisimiut campus were not fully online, so students completed their assignments on paper. The process of receiving and grading those assignments was such a drawn-out affair that students waited weeks for feedback. The students’ Inuit culture emphasizes the present moment, which made the long wait even more of an issue. By the time the feedback became available, students had lost interest in reinforcing their learning by reviewing the work.

Solution

Iben Hammer Hansen, the educational manager responsible for distance learning, introduced the Möbius platform to deliver assignments and assessments to her mathematics students.

Result

Students can now evaluate their understanding as soon as they complete an assignment or assessment. The platform also provides feedback on how to solve the problems that were answered incorrectly. These features have incentivized the students to review their work and sharpen their skills.

 

The Details

The Greenlandic educational institution, KTI (also known as Tech College Greenland), has two campuses, one of which is in the city of Sisimiut. KTI Sisimiut includes an upper secondary (GUX) department that functions similarly to sixth form in the United Kingdom. That department is split into two divisions: a high school with onsite attendance and a distance learning division, which typically serves adult students.

Educational manager Iben Hammer Hansen is responsible for KTI Sisimiut’s distance learning division and teaches one of its mathematics courses.

Grading had been a lengthy, cumbersome process. Hansen would send out assignments in a Word document that her students would print out and complete; they would then use their mobile phones to take a picture of their work and send Hansen a PDF version. Once she received the PDFs, Hansen would use her iPad to review and grade the assignments.

“It’d take two weeks before my students got their answers,” Hansen said. “So, their minds would be somewhere else. I guess that’s very natural, but with them, it’s just more extreme.” That extreme was due to her students’ Inuit culture, which focuses attention on what is happening in each moment.

By the time Hansen provided their grades and feedback, her students had mentally moved on from that assignment and were concentrating on other work. “I felt like they never ever looked at what I corrected,” she said. She worried that she was wasting their time.

Hansen began using the Möbius platform in 2020 at the recommendation of her colleague, Lars Riedel, a National Subject Advisor and Associate Professor of Mathematics at the Danish Technical University (DTU). DTU and KTI partner in a program that enables students interested in pursuing an engineering degree at DTU to learn arctic engineering at KTI. Riedel had implemented Möbius at DTU in the past, and he thought it could also help Hansen’s students.

Now, Hansen uses Möbius to deliver assessments and assignments. Her students complete those activities on the platform and click the “How did I do” button accompanying each exercise to check the correctness of their answers. As a result, they receive feedback while the activity is still in progress. Hansen reported that her students love the “How did I do” button. “They want to know whether it’s right or wrong at that moment,” she explained. “So, this really supports their way of thinking.”

In addition, the platform provides students with an endless stream of mathematical exercises for practice. Möbius’ math engine can continually generate random questions because instead of selecting from a question bank, the platform inserts mathematically-generated variables into an exercise. So, students can hone their mathematical skills with new questions, which keeps the experience fresh and challenging. Plus, the random variables feed into the accompanying answers, so the instant feedback includes fullyworked solutions, which helps students better figure out how they need to improve.

This feature is also invaluable to Hansen’s students because it helps them become more comfortable with numbers (the Greenlandic language contains an extremely limited set of numerals). Additionally, they practice abstract thinking (not often used in the Inuits’ largely hunter-gatherer culture), which they need for subjects like algebra. “They get the part that two plus two is four,” said Hansen, “but as soon as you replace numbers with letters – for example, if you say A plus B – they get very confused.” 

Hansen also appreciates the platform’s capacity for delivering various assignments and assessments, including the real-life problem-solving that appeals to her students. Riedel is still her main support for working with Möbius. He helps Hansen and any other KTI teacher interested in using the platform create assignments and courses.

Hansen is planning to make more use of Möbius’ capabilities. The distance learning department uses a great deal of video content for its online instruction, and those videos were sent to students through a separate channel. Hansen plans to incorporate that video content into the courses on the Möbius platform after the summer of 2022. “With Möbius and some teaching videos, you make education easily accessible to students,” she stated.