Use of cognitive tools as support mechanisms for adult learners in a mathematics unit

Year: 2001

Author: Northcote, Maria, Marshall, Linda, Lenoy, Max

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The staff at Kurongkurl Katitjin (the School of Indigenous Australian Studies, at Edith Cowan University) design, develop and teach courses that are offered in a variety of delivery formats: on-campus, online and through traditional distance education. Many of our off-campus courses are now being delivered via the use of online learning technologies. For example, the individual units within the Indigenous University Orientation Course (IUOC) are currently being redesigned to incorporate these new learning and communication technologies. With the major components of these units being based on the internet, learning is also supported by contact with on-campus lecturers, print and multimedia learning resources.

This paper considers the instructional design, content preparation and delivery methods selected to create one particular unit of study in the IUOC course, Thinking Mathematically. The roles of the unit development team members involved in the design and production of this unit are outlined. The paper particularly focuses on the manner in which cognitive tools have been incorporated into the unit to scaffold learning opportunities, to promote positive attitudes to the topic and to identify and strengthen the link between theoretical and practical mathematics. Previous research into Indigenous students’ reactions to online learning and mathematics in general informed the unit development processes and was supplemented by research from contemporary literature relating to effective online learning guidelines. Primarily, the paper reports on which cognitive tools were implemented to achieve specific learning outcomes in terms of the students’ knowledge, skills and attitude development.