May 29, 2015, 3:19 pm
A while ago, I blogged an invitation to the 18th annual Legacy of R.L. Moore and Inquiry Based Learning conference, to be held in Austin, Texas on June 25–27. That’s only a month away! To lead in to this event, I’ve asked a few members of the organizing committee, who are leading practitioners in inquiry-based learning, to join us here for a 4+1 interview. The first of these is Victor Piercey. Victor is an associate professor in the Mathematics Department at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan (practically a neighbor to me, in other words). He took time out from the hectic pre-conference organizing schedule to answer a few questions about IBL and the R.L. Moore conference.
1. In your own words, how would you describe or define inquiry-based learning to someone who had never heard of this concept?
To me, inquiry based learning is all about engaging students in…
January 22, 2015, 8:00 am
While specifications grading continues to unfold in class, I’m also still using and refining the flipped learning model. Recently I had time to reflect on how I’m implementing flipped learning in my classes, and I noticed that some of my thoughts on flipped learning have evolved over the last few years, including some breaks from things I’ve written here on the blog. Here are three of those thoughts that stood out for me.
What I used to think: Pre-class activity in a flipped learning model is about mastering content-oriented instructional objectives.
What I think now: Pre-class activity is for generating questions.
I attended a talk by Jeremy Strayer last year, and he said something that stuck with me: that the purpose of pre-class work in the flipped classroom is to “launch” the in-class activity. In flipped learning we certainly want students to pick up fluency with …
June 28, 2014, 9:57 am
On Twitter this week, someone sent out a link to this survey from the NCTM asking users to submit their ideas for “grand challenges” for mathematics education in the coming years. I forget the precise definition and parameters for a “grand challenge” and I can’t go back to the beginning of the survey now that I’ve completed it, but the gist is that a grand challenge should be “extremely difficult but doable”, should make a positive impact on a large group of mathematics students, and should be grounded in sound pedagogical research.
To that list of parameters, I added that the result of any grand challenge should include a set of free, open-source materials or freely-available research studies that anyone can obtain and use without having to subscribe to a journal, belong to a particular institution, or use a particular brand of published curricula. In other words, one…
March 18, 2014, 4:34 pm
Yesterday I got an email from a reader who had read this post called What should math majors know about computing? from 2007. In the original article, I gave a list of what computing skills mathematics majors should learn and when they should learn them. The person emailing me was wondering if I had any updates on that list or any new ideas, seven years on from writing the article.
If anything, over the past seven years, my feelings about the centrality of computing in the mathematics major have gotten even more entrenched. Mostly this is because of two things.
First, I know more computer science and computer programming now than I did in 1997. I’ve learned Python over the last three years along with some of its related systems like NumPy and SciPy, and I’ve successfully used Python as a tool in my research. I’ve taken a MOOC on algorithms and read, in whole or in part, books…
March 11, 2014, 2:34 pm
In the previous post about the flipped/inverted calculus class, we looked at getting student buy-in for the flipped concept, so that when they are asked to do Guided Practice and other such assignments, they won’t rebel (much). When you hear people talk about the flipped classroom, much of the time the emphasis is on what happens before class – the videos, how to get students to do the reading, and so on. But the real magic is what happens in class when students come, prepared with some basic knowledge they’ve acquired for themselves, and put it to work with their peers on hard problems.
But before this happens, there’s an oddly complex buffer zone that students and instructors have to cross, and that’s the time when students arrive at the class meeting. Really? you are thinking. How can arrival to class be such a complicated thing? They show up, you get to work, right? Well…
March 5, 2014, 2:37 pm
In my last post about the inverted/flipped calculus class, I stressed the importance of Guided Practice as a way of structuring students’ pre-class activities and as a means of teaching self-regulated learning behaviors. I mentioned there was one important difference between the way I described Guided Practice and the way I’ve described it before, and it focuses on the learning objectives.
A clear set of learning objectives is at the heart of any successful learning experience, and it’s an essential ingredient for self-regulated learning since self-regulating learners have a clear set of criteria against which to judge their learning progress. And yet, many instructors – myself included in the early years of my career – never map out learning objectives either for themselves or for their students. Or, they do, and they’re so mushy that they can’t be measured – like any…
March 4, 2014, 2:59 pm
This post continues the series of posts about the inverted/flipped calculus class that I taught in the Fall. In the previous post, I described the theoretical framework for the design of this course: self-regulated learning, as formulated by Paul Pintrich. In this post, I want to get into some of the design detail of how we (myself, and my colleague Marcia Frobish who also taught a flipped section of calculus) tried to build self-regulated learning into the course structure itself.
We said last time that self-regulated learning is marked by four distinct kinds of behavior:
- Self-regulating learners are an active participants in the learning process.
- Self-regulating learners can, and do, monitor and control aspects of their cognition, motivation, and learning behaviors.
- Self-regulating learners have criteria against which they can judge whether their current learning status is…
March 3, 2014, 9:00 am
A few weeks ago I began a series to review the Calculus course that Marcia Frobish and I taught using the inverted/flipped class design, back in the Fall. I want to pick up the thread here about the unifying principle behind the course, which is the concept of self-regulated learning.
Self-regulated learning is what it sounds like: Learning that is initiated, managed, and assessed by the learners themselves. An instructor can play a role in this process, so it’s not the same thing as teaching yourself a subject (although all successful autodidacts are self-regulating learners), but it refers to how the individual learner approaches learning tasks.
For example, take someone learning about optimization problems in calculus. Four things describe how a self-regulating learner approaches this topic.
- The learner works actively on optimization problems as the primary form of…
January 27, 2014, 7:55 am
As many Casting Out Nines readers know, last semester I undertook to rethink the freshman calculus 1 course here at my institution by converting it to an inverted or “flipped” class model. It’s been two months since the end of that semester, and this blog post is the first in a (lengthy) series that I’ll be rolling out in the coming weeks that lays out how the course was designed, what happened, and how it all turned out.
Let me begin this series with a story about why I even bother with the flipped classroom.
The student in my programming class looked me straight in the eye and said, “I need you to lecture to me.” She said, “I can’t do the work unless someone tells me how to get started and then shows me how, step by step.” I took a moment to listen and think. “Do you mean that you find the work hard and it’s easier if someone tells you how to start and…