Math Literacy without a teacher at the center

We are trying something different this fall.  As we’ve eliminated our basic algebra class in favor of Math Lit, we are adding a student-directed format. I’m doing two of these classes as part of my teaching load this semester, and I hope to post commentary each week.

What’s different?  Well, the big difference is that students in this “Math Lab” (student directed) format work on the material without me standing in front of them.  The online homework system has videos in support of the workbook, which focuses on context and concepts; students will be following these detailed assignments for each section, and they are encouraged to work with other students.  [Of course, the students also face the usual assignment of problems to be done after this studying.]  The instructor is available to help when needed.  The goal is to get every student actively engaged with the mathematics (no sleeping in class 🙂 ).

I am testing a conjecture that students can learn significant mathematics (concepts and reasoning)  mostly ‘on their own’, even at this level.  Sometimes, I think we place too high a value on what we say or do.  In my view, all learning is essentially “on my own”.  Help is often needed, but is not always best prior to the learner recognizing that there is a need.  It’s not that one way is better for all students at all times; it’s that a different approach enables more students to succeed — and that this sometimes leads to students understanding the learning process a little better.

We’ll see how it goes!

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2 Comments

  • By Sarah Endel, September 2, 2017 @ 10:55 pm

    What are you using for a textbook?

  • By Jack Rotman, September 7, 2017 @ 3:47 pm

    We are using the McGraw Hill text (Pathways, by Sobecki/Mercer). It’s been working well!

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