The University of Canterbury was one of the first institutions in New Zealand to adopt and utilize Möbius to deliver their mathematics-based course materials and was quick to realize that they could use the platform to avoid any disruption to their classes following a sizeable earthquake in Christchurch on February 22, 2011.
The 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck Christchurch on the second day of semester one. While there were no injuries on campus, the university was evacuated, and time was needed to investigate and remediate damaged buildings.
Phillipa Williams, from the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, used Möbius to create weekly online modules to support student learning. The previous year, Möbius had been used primarily for summative assessment, measuring student learning progress.
Students used home computers/laptops for online sessions and assignments, working through each of the online modules. Möbius proved to be a perfect tool to help students and teachers as it promotes learning initiative anytime, anywhere.
“The depth of questions possible with Möbius is what I consider its biggest strength,” said Phillipa. “Möbius can randomize algorithmic variables so that students can have multiple attempts at a quiz and see varying problems of the same type each time.” Students were allowed as many attempts as they wanted up to a specified cut-off time, with the best mark taken. Phillipa said that “students were quick to start doing these learning modules and were very positive about having something to work on soon after the earthquake. We received many favourable comments about the modules when speaking to students and through emails.”
The university conducted surveys in the last week of lectures to obtain more formal student feedback. Overall, more than 80% of students from three large first-year courses thought Möbius was a valuable aid to their learning. The most interesting initial finding is a significant improvement in results for weaker students. The pass rate for these students went up in 2011 compared to the previous two years. Students were also very positive about being able to do the quizzes as many times as they wanted to. After the cut-off time, the modules were left open for revision, and many students used them to help prepare for their exams.
“The weekly learning modules have definitely contributed to the aim of increasing student engagement with the course content,” said Phillipa. “Also, we think that working on these modules gives structure, flexibility and focus to students’ independent study time, which has helped with the transition from school to university.”
“With the help of Möbius, we delivered our full academic programme in 2011 and were able to achieve student learning outcomes,” said Phillipa. “We are definitely going to continue using Möbius as a core formative assessment tool.”