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Student and faculty perspectives on Internet resource usage in undergraduate university science and mathematics courses

Joan Mary Calvert, University of Massachusetts Amherst


The purpose of this study is to investigate how faculty make use of Internet resources and how students respond to use of these resources in a variety of undergraduate science and mathematics courses. Much more has been published on the use of Internet resources in traditional undergraduate curricula from the perspective of faculty as teachers and researchers than from the perspective of students as learners. This qualitative case study is a balanced approach that surveys mathematics and science professors and students at the same university. Both teacher and learner perspectives about on-line resource usage are scrutinized for the extent to which such resources augment content and delivery of traditional university undergraduate mathematics and science courses. Faculty and students were interviewed and asked about their perceptions of Internet as a tool for teaching and learning. Responses focused on the Internet as it affords information, communication, and collaboration. Students expressed distrust for Web publications, citing the information glut and sense of security with “approved” library resources. Personal and course Web pages were much more important to faculty than to students, who did not see themselves as producers but rather as consumers of information prepared by faculty and other experts in their fields. All students expressed the importance of the university's role in advising incoming students to take computing-related courses in their first year to prepare them for courses that have on-line components. When asked if they would consider delivering their courses asynchronously on-line, all of the faculty members interviewed declined. Consensus was that Internet/Web resources found their place in augmenting rather than replacing traditional courses. Most students interviewed responded that they would try an on-line course for the experience but that they would be inclined to take a general education course rather than a course in their major, not wanting to risk a low grade. Students and faculty alike continue to work with new applications for Internet groupware messaging such as asynchronous discussion groups and electronic bulletin boards that will be incorporated into traditional university courses.

Subject Area

Curricula|Teaching|Educational software|Higher education|Computer science

Recommended Citation

Calvert, Joan Mary, "Student and faculty perspectives on Internet resource usage in undergraduate university science and mathematics courses" (1999). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9920590.