Applet Helps In and Out of the Classroom
New technology can help faculty members improve the way they present concepts and the way in which students assimilate material. In searching for a dynamic method for teaching sensitivity analysis within a Linear Programming module to her undergraduate students, Dr. Chris Kydd, Business and Economics, contacted UD's Teaching, Learning, and Technology Center—PRESENT—for help in developing a web-based tool for presenting linear programming materials.
"Initially, I was searching for a better way to present sensitivity analysis, but was unable to find anything interactive, so I initiated this project with the staff of PRESENT," says Kydd.
The Result: Version 2 of the web-based Java applet now provides Kydd and the other operations faculty with an improved method of conveying this information in the classroom. To understand sensitivity analysis, students must clearly see how changes in the equations of the problem alter the graphical presentation of the solution. According to Kydd, the applet allows her to effectively demonstrate these concepts.
"Once the applet was complete, I found it was useful for several other teaching goals in addition to its originally intended purpose, including showing the feasible space of the initial solution, determining the optimal solution from the graph, and showing how the optimal solution changes."
This is frequently difficult with traditional static materials such as overhead transparencies. Because this applet is available on the web, students have access to it outside the classroom.
Last fall, Kydd used the applet to teach two sections of students the concepts. During that same semester, instructor Vivian Bennett-Fresco taught the same material using overhead transparencies.
"We asked all of the students in all sections the same exam question regarding sensitivity analysis. The students using the applet performed better on that question," says Kydd. "I definitely believe that the applet helps the students to understand better what's going on in the typical LP graphical solution."
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"Once the applet was complete, I found it was useful for several other teaching goals in addition to its originally intended purpose."
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