The bridging course in mathematics facilitates the transition to ETHZ for new entrants. Approximately one month before the semester begins, they are granted access to a free online tool that enables self-assessment and repetition of the entry-level mathematical requirements. The online course includes texts, videos, interactive tasks and tests for the purpose of learning.
Having good mathematical knowledge and competences is hugely important in almost all ETHZ study programmes. Mathematical competence forms the basis for all discipline-specific lectures. Therefore, mastery of the mathematical competence required at the point of matriculation is indispensable in order to be able to follow the content of the lectures and pass the first-year examinations. Many new ETH students find the math lectures very demanding because they are unfamiliar with the level of abstraction required and the significantly faster pace of conveying content.
The bridging course helps students prepare for their studies at ETH. The target group are all students who attend D-Math service-lectures. Participating in the bridging course is voluntary and any results achieved in the bridging course are not counted towards later studies. Participants of the bridging course can assess their current strengths and deficits in comparison to the required competences by completing a self-evaluation.
The course takes place entirely online. Because it is constructed in a modular fashion, participants can complete the course in its entirety or module by module. The content of the bridging course is based only on the competence levels required by schools and does not include content from the tertiary level. The course enables participants to reviewed the content required and practiced with scripts, videos and interactive tasks.
Each pathway chosen in the online course culminates with a final test to check how well the students have met the desired outcomes. Once enrolled, the students have unrestricted access to the bridging course
The bridging course is still being developed. During the first two executions in 2016 and again in 2017, more than 50% of the new entrants submitted their self-evaluation in order to gain access to the learning pathways in the course. The majority of the participants worked with the tool for several days. A similar number of participants were able to benefit from the additional elements (Text, videos, tasks and quizzes) and thereby improve their mathematical understanding.
With continual evaluation in the form of interviews, surveys and data analysis the course will continue to be adapted to the needs of the new entrant students. This will include extending the number of interactive tasks and increasing their flexibility. (WAS HEISST DAS???) Im Mittelpunkt steht dabei ein Ausbau und eine Flexibilisierung des Katalogs an interaktiven Aufgaben.
The tasks in the course are based on a development framework provided by Khan-Academy (https://www.khanacademy.org/).
Some aspects of the project have already improved significantly. They are: – personalised and automatically generated numerical values for repeated practice, including graphical elements.
– reliable and diverse display of mathematical symbols
The bridging course also frees up time in the main lectures for the Maths lecturers as it assists the formation of a common base understanding among students. In addition, more time is available for more demanding tasks and focusing on developing the necessary competences.