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Re-Designing The Primers On Matlab Marina
MATLAB Marina is a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) designed to be used by students to learn programming using MATLAB. The VLE serves as the primary resource in a freshmen programming course: Computing Applications in Mechanical Engineering at Georgia Southern University. The VLE consists of modules that address the topics for learning MATLAB programming. Prior to fall 2020, each module had a primer in the form of a static pdf document, a set of video tutorials for most topics, and a set of suggested exercises in the form of another static pdf document. After several semesters of tracking the usage of the VLE and analyzing student comments, the authors realized that students do not read most of the primer before or after the topic has been introduced in class. The primers provide the foundational concepts and introduce MATLAB syntax for each module. The tutorials show the application of these concepts using the MATLAB IDE. Hence, a lack of reading of the primers resulted in a lack of complete mastery of foundational concepts such as indexing, iteration, etc.
This paper presents the re-design of the primers into shorter documents. Each document now addresses a smaller number of key concepts and is designed to be read in under 10 minutes (3- 5 pages each). The more involved algorithm and programming examples have been moved to an additional document intended to be read after the short primers. The static documents are all formatted using a standard template designed to meet accessibility requirements.
The current version of MATLAB Marina is being used in one section of the course this semester. Preliminary assessment will include student comments and student usage data. This will be compared with usage data from previous semesters. Using this assessment, the authors plan to continue to make relevant changes to the VLE.