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Compiled by Alexei Gokhman and Svitlana Kyrychenko, Humber College These Student Personas were used as design aids in rethinking the teaching practices and learning resources, as outlined in the Guide to Using Student Personas for faculty enhancing and redesigning their courses.
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Amit is a first year college student. He lives at home with his parents and helps them to manage a small shop, working about 3 hours a day. His family moved to Canada when Amit was 5 years old. He does not speak his native language (though he understands a little), but he speaks seemingly fluent English. However his vocabulary is limited and his reading comprehension is poor. He is a typical representative of generation 1.5.
Amit graduated from a high school where he met the basic requirements for graduation. He never liked Math, failed the CPT (Computer Placement Test), and was placed in a BMAT 110 (Essentials of Business Mathematics) class. He enrolled with a number of his friends, counting on their help on tests and quizzes. This close group tends to come to class together, usually late, and sits at the back of the class.
Amit never does his homework, barely participates in the class activities, but constantly requests attention and help from his professor on the tests. He always complains about his marks and asks for extra marks whether he fails or passes.
On the other hand, Amit is energetic, friendly, and very resourceful. He has good communication skills and a sense of humour. His parents and all his friends are sure that despite everything, Amit has all the qualities for a successful business career.
Kevin graduated from a high school a few years ago with good grades. He decided not to pursue further education and quickly got a job at Business Depot. Kevin is a typical digital native. Laptop and iPod are ever-present parts of his lifestyle.
After a while he realized that a college diploma or degree would dramatically improve his chances for a successful business career. He chose the Business Administration Program at Humber College, but he still has to keep about 25-30 hours at work to pay his tuition. He failed the CPT (Computer Placement Test) because he had no time for review and overestimated his high school knowledge. He ended up in a BMAT 110 (Essentials of Business Mathematics) class. He rarely shows up for class, but never misses tests. If in class, he works diligently, asks questions and takes notes; however, he has no time to do his homework on a regular basis. He passed his first test, barely passed the second, but failed the other two tests because he missed the part of the college program that went beyond his high school knowledge. He failed the course with a decent grade (about 50%).
To a certain extent Kevin is a serious and responsible individual. His supervisors are happy with his performance at work. Kevin thinks that he just overestimated his abilities and underestimated the course. He blames himself and does not try to extract marks from the professor.
Germain has poor math skills. Neither his dad nor his mom have a college education, but they want their son to attend college. Germain failed the CPT (Computer Placement Test), because he does not understand graphs or fractions properly. He rarely misses his BMAT 110 (Essentials of Business Mathematics) class, but his marks are low.
Germain is shy and unsociable. If something in class is not clear to him, he is reluctant to ask questions for two reasons. Firstly, he doesn’t want to look stupid (as he says). Secondly, he well remembers that his classmates at the high school didn’t like those who asked for teacher’s help of any kind. For the same reason he doesn’t go to the Math Centre until it is too late, although his math professor insists on it. So his misunderstanding quickly accumulates, and he starts failing the course.
Germain has a few friends, but he is never among the leaders. He has three younger siblings and his family responsibilities take a heavy toll on him, which in part explains why he fails to do his homework regularly.
Halima is 20 years old. Her family came to Canada as refugees. She has to take care of her numerous relatives. Recently she spent 3 days in hospital with her aunt who does not speak English.
Halima graduated from a high school in Toronto having only marginal knowledge in math. She badly failed her CPT (Computer Placement Test). She tries very hard in the BMAT 110 (Essentials of Business mathematics) class, but the lack of basic math skills (to the extent that she mixes up arithmetical operations) does not allow her to complete the course successfully. Most difficult for her are word problems. She cannot convert words into numbers and equations. She understands English sentences, she can solve some basic equations, but she cannot connect them together.
Halima works with the Math Centre staff every week, sometimes asking them to explain one and the same problem over and over again. She asks the professor to comment in class on almost every homework question. By the end of the course, her math professor can see undeniable progress. However it is still not enough to pass the course.
Antonella was born in Toronto. She never particularly liked math and ended up in a BMAT 110 (Essential of Business mathematics) class.
Antonella is an energetic and mobile girl with a good sense of humour. She has many friends. She talks and laughs a lot in class. It is with difficulty that Antonella concentrates in class and focuses her attention on math. If her professor asks whether she understands a topic, Antonella readily says: “Yes”, even when she does not. She is an absentminded girl. Once she left her book in class, on another occasion she borrowed a professor’s calculator and forgot to return it. She fails to meet the deadlines for her assignments because she simply forgets about them. Antonella takes notes in class, but sometimes she cannot decipher them at home. She has problems with time management and does not do her homework regularly. Every time Antonella fails a test, she is surprised, thinking that she did well.
Antonella is a very friendly girl, and everybody in class likes her. There is a student with a disability in her class, and she tries to help him as much as she can. She is involved in the community and works as a volunteer at the Toronto Humane Society.
Haseeba lives with her family in Brampton. She works part-time in retail and has significant household duties. Haseeba is a recent Ontario high school graduate. She has little interest in mathematics in itself and carries certain misconceptions from her previous math experience. Nevertheless, she was surprised to find out that she failed the CPT (Computer Placement Test), and was placed in a BMAT 110 (Essentials of Business Mathematics) class.
Haseeba attends the BMAT 110 classes on a regular basis, listens to the explanations and work diligently if assigned an independent task. From class to class her math skills improve, math misconceptions disappear, and she progresses dramatically. She requests a lot of attention and help at the beginning of the course, but later is fully independent. Heseeba participates in class discussions, readily helps other students. Through her focused engagement in the class work she is capable of influencing positively the class dynamics. Her marks improve from test to test and her final grade is over 80%.
Hasseba demonstrates an increase in self-confidence and independence, achieved through both high marks and “math smartness”. Her main goals are to achieve a higher level of education – college diploma, make good use of her money, and get a better job.
Eileen’s parents immigrated to Canada from Philippines. Eileen graduated from a local high school where she met the basic requirements. However it was not enough to pass the CPT (Computer Placement Test), and was placed in a BMAT 110 (Essentials of Business Mathematics) class. It was an unpleasant surprise for Eileen and she decided to complete the course with the best possible grade. Eileen is smart and inquisitive by nature and has a good memory. She quite quickly understands the rules of mathematics, but to be confident on tests she needs a lot of practice. The textbook, however, does not contain sufficient number of exercises for some topics. So, following her professor’s advice one day Eileen logged in MathXL using the access code and instructions that she bought together with the book.
Eileen started practicing on a regular basis. When her answer was wrong the software provided detailed step-by-step explanation, additional problems etc. in order to avoid such mistakes in future. Unlike some other students in the class Eileen was OK with computers and she enjoyed this kind of homework very much. The results of this extra practice exceeded all the expectations. If she just passed test 1, then on the second test she got one of the best marks in class, and she got 100% on her test 3 completing it in 20-30 minutes instead of two hours.
After this success Eileen looks forward with confidence to taking other math and statistical courses and completing the Business Accounting program. No doubt that she will be taking advantage of computer assisted learning to enhance her performance as long as it is offered