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Having spent so much effort on explaining my approach to learning, I make sure to incorporate it in the class throughout the term. For example, I do not simply lecture at the students, but encourage them to ask questions and answer mine. In fact, if I ask a question, I will not go on until someone attempts to answer it; if no one does, I rephrase it until they do. While this is scary to them at first, they soon realize that I do not mean to intimidate them and that I work hard to help them get the right answer; a wrong answer is not the end of the world, and carries no stigma. In the end, there usually is quite a bit of class interaction, even from the weaker students.

In my Math 53 GenEd course, I have taken this idea one step further. For homework between classes, I ask each student to think about the material from the previous day and write a one paragraph summary of it which they send to me via email. I also request that they come with at least two written questions based on the homework or recent class work. We list six or seven of these at the board and spend much of the remainder of the hour working out answers to these questions. Aside from keeping the student's attention and giving them a sense of ownership for the class, this also shows them a much more accurate view of how mathematics works: it is an experimental science where asking the right questions is half the battle.

Even in my other courses, I start each day by asking them to list the major accomplishments from the previous class. This serves two purposes: it tries to get them to come to class prepared by having thought about where we are headed in the course, and it gets them to begin to make decisions about what is important and what isn't. In an age filled with so much information, this skill is a critical one to learn. They see this list as helpful to them when they study for the exams, but I see it as training them for life.

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Created: 08 Sep 2001
Last modified: 07 Jan 2002 06:56:26
Comments to: dpvc@union.edu
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