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Transitioning Back to In-Person Math Courses


As we all know, the online school format during the 2020-2021 academic year created many challenges for everyone involved in the educational process. There has been quite a bit of discussion about problems related to distance learning, but in this post I will discuss challenges that students and parents should consider as we transition back to in person learning―particularly in their math classes.

The transition back to in-person instruction is of course a good thing as it will allow teachers to teach more effectively and for students to learn more effectively. Online learning environments often make it more difficult for teachers to assess students. In particular it is difficult to assign homework and tests in the conventional manner because students cannot show their work in the same capacity. Similarly, it is difficult for teachers to provide feedback.

To address these issues many schools used online applications such as DeltaMath to assign homework. Apps like DeltaMath try to offer a variety of problems as well as feedback mechanisms when students get problems wrong. They also try to separate conceptually challenging problems into pieces to force students to demonstrate understanding of all the parts of the problem. Additionally, some schools still assigned more conventional assignments, but provided live documents that students could edit so that they had some ability to show their work. These measures help an online assignment approximate a typical handwritten assignment, but they cannot fully mitigate the aforementioned issues. 

This year I have noticed that many students, including some who I worked with prior to the pandemic, are simply not writing enough in general. This problem often manifests in the form of students not showing sufficient work. Getting students to show their work is often an uphill battle, especially for younger students, and this issue was certainly not caused solely by the shift to online learning. However, I think that the shift has exacerbated the problem. As I mentioned above, online assignments tend to have more problems where students do not need to show work, or simply cannot show as much work as they normally would. After doing these types of problems for over a year, I’m sure that they have developed expectations regarding what constitutes an appropriate amount of work to show. 

No one can blame students for adapting to the circumstances, but in person learning may require them to adjust their expectations. Doing so will likely require active efforts on their part. Students should check their textbooks and in class examples in order to determine the appropriate amount of work to show.

We’d be glad to help your student with the transition to in-person learning and intensive course rigor. Please give us a call to discuss your specific situation! 


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