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Topic: Getting students to take responsibility
Replies: 68   Last Post: Oct 23, 1995 11:39 AM

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TPANITZ@mecn.mass.edu

Posts: 133
Registered: 12/6/04
Getting students to take responsibility
Posted: Oct 4, 1995 7:55 PM
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I would like to initiate a discussion around the subject of HELPING STUDENTS
TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THEIR OWN LEARNING.
What do you do to create an active learning environment where students can
become more involved in their education? This might involve group learning,
cooperative techniques, interactive lectures, in class and out of class projects
etc. Please site specific examples, results you have had and what you might do
differently in the future for a particular exercize. I will start the
discussion with an experiment I tried recently in two developmental math classes
I teach at Cape Cod Community College.

By way of background I have two Intermediate Algebra classes. One at night
with mostly adults and one during the day with mostly younger students. We have
finished a review of elementary algebra where we have worked in pairs and groups
of four for the past two weeks. The students are now relatively used to working
together and have rearranged themselves to find people they are compatable with.

I started the section on factoring polynomials by announcing that this
would be their chapter. They would be responsible for teaching themselves and
the class this material with me serving as their consultant to assist in
arbitrating disputes and helping them clarify any difficult concepts or
procedures. To help the process along I suggested that each table of students
(4-6 at a hexagonal table) be responsible for teaching one subsection of the
chapter for the class. They "agreed" to try this approach.
We spent two days working on the material in class. A few groups did some
work out of class in the math lab where they work as a study groups normally.
There was a great deal of concern about their being required to "teach" the
material. I assured them that they would not be graded on their performance,
that this was as much an experiment for me as them and they relaxed a little.
They worked on strategy for their presentations, what order of problems to
discuss and who would do what. I asked for volunteers to start and two students
offered to go first to end their ordeal quickly so they wouldn't have to sit in
class a get more nervous. I congratulated them on their strategy. They worked
together putting problems up and discussing them. There seemed to be comfort in
their doing this together versus having to go to the board alone. Interestingly
they worked on the side board not the board in the front of the class. The rest
of the class was inspired by their approach and at one point an entire table
went up together to work at the board. This required a little management on my
part so everyone could see what was going on and have a chance to ask questions.

The students basically worked through their procedures for factoring without
a lot of theoretical discussion. This was acceptable to me since the factoring
topic is somewhat mechanical in nature and this was the first time any of the
students had attempted to "teach" math. I stepped in to highlight important
aspects being discussed and to emphasize particular areas of potential
difficulty or mistakes. I did that as much to get involved in the process myself
so that I would not be perceived as not doing anything to help them along. (This
is a problem with group learning. The teacher is sometimes perceived as not
being involved when they actually are more involved helping individual groups).
The procedure went very smoothly. Students encouraged each other and even
clapped for especially good presentations. A good time was had and many problems
were discussed by the end of the class.

In the end all but three students made some kind of presentation. Some
shorter than others as you might expect, some very detailed. We may have
discovered a few budding teachers in the group. The students felt much better
about the exercize after we completed it.

Next I gave them a group test. I assigned 5 problems at a time and the
group was responsible for getting the solutions. Each member had to write one
problem on an answer sheet I provided. This was to prevent one person from doing
all the work. I offered them a half a point for each correct answer to be
tallied on the chapter test. I didn't reduce the number of problems on the test,
just their point values. In two days we worked through 40 problems in class.
They worked extremely hard and cooperatively. It is amazing what students will
do for half a point. I'm not sure I would have been able to cover that many
problems in class if I did them all myself. Finally before they exam I asked
each student to make up a test covering all the material with their accompanying
solutions. This helped them focus on the nature of test making and what they
might expect. Again there was a lot of variation here but overall a good effort
by almost all of the students.

I then gave an exam to promote individual accountability and the results
were excellent. Out of a class of 30 in the day only 3 did not pass. These were
students who were not participating very actively in the process dispite my
frequent interventions and exhortations. That is a subject for another
discussion. There were 4 grades between 75-80 and the rest were above 90. The
evening class of 27 had even better results. The lower grades were also
predictable based upon my observation of the students level of enthusiasm for
this approach and perhaps algebra in general.

The biggest benefit for me is that I get to see students performing in every
class and can assess their ability and level of effort before they take the
exam. The students had a good time as evidenced by comments they made through an
informal evaluation I did after we were through. And finally their individual
performance demonstrated that they had mastered the material.

If you have read this far I would appreciate any comments or observations you
might have and examples of your own efforts to provide an active learning
environment for your students. I will accumulate the results and send them out
to participating lists.

Ted Panitz tpanitz@mecn.mass.edu
Cape Cod Community College
2240 Iyanough Rd.
W. Barnstable, MA 02668




Date Subject Author
10/4/95
Read Getting students to take responsibility
TPANITZ@mecn.mass.edu
10/5/95
Read Re: Getting students to take responsibility
Peter J. Smith
10/5/95
Read Re: Getting students to take responsibility
Lutemann@aol.com
10/7/95
Read Re: Getting students to take responsibility
DanH150093@aol.com
10/7/95
Read Re: Getting students to take responsibility
Johnny Hamilton
10/7/95
Read Re: Getting students to take responsibility
DanH150093@aol.com
10/7/95
Read Re: Getting students to take responsibility
Lutemann@aol.com
10/7/95
Read Re: Getting students to take responsibility
Lutemann@aol.com
10/7/95
Read Re: Getting students to take responsibility
Andre TOOM
10/7/95
Read Re: Getting students to take responsibility
Michael Paul Goldenberg
10/7/95
Read Re: Getting students to take responsibility
Andre TOOM
10/7/95
Read Re: Getting students to take responsibility
DanH150093@aol.com
10/7/95
Read Re: Getting students to take responsibility
Michael Paul Goldenberg
10/9/95
Read Re: Getting students to take responsibility
Michael Paul Goldenberg
10/9/95
Read Class size (Re: Getting students to take responsibility)
Susan L. Addington
10/9/95
Read Re: Class size (Re: Getting students to take responsibility)
Lutemann@aol.com
10/10/95
Read Re: Class size (Re: Getting students to take responsibility)
Tad Watanabe
10/10/95
Read Re: Class size (Re: Getting students to take responsibility)
Francis Fennell
10/10/95
Read Re: Class size (Re: Getting students to take responsibility)
Dr. William Tomhave
10/10/95
Read Re: Class size (Re: Getting students to take responsibility)
Bill Juraschek
10/9/95
Read Re: Class size (Re: Getting students to take responsibility)
Karen Dee Michalowicz
10/23/95
Read Re: Class size (Re: Getting students to take responsibility)
Abel R. Lastra
10/10/95
Read Re: Class size (Re: Getting students to take responsibility)
DanH150093@aol.com
10/10/95
Read Re: Class size (Re: Getting students to take responsibility)
roitman@oberon.math.ukans.edu
10/10/95
Read Re: Class size (Re: Getting students to take responsibility)
Tad Watanabe
10/10/95
Read Re: Class size (Re: Getting students to take responsibility)
Bill Juraschek
10/10/95
Read Re: Class size (Re: Getting students to take responsibility)
roitman@oberon.math.ukans.edu
10/11/95
Read Re: Class size (Re: Getting students to take responsibility)
Virginia L. Keen
10/10/95
Read Re: Class size (Re: Getting students to take responsibility)
Karen Dee Michalowicz
10/10/95
Read Re: Class size (Re: Getting students to take responsibility)
Lutemann@aol.com
10/11/95
Read Re: Class size (Re: Getting students to take responsibility)
Tad Watanabe
10/10/95
Read Re: Class size (Re: Getting students to take responsibility)
Lutemann@aol.com
10/10/95
Read Re: Class size (Re: Getting students to take responsibility)
Lutemann@aol.com
10/11/95
Read Re: Class size (Re: Getting students to take responsibility)
Tad Watanabe
10/11/95
Read Re: Class size (Re: Getting students to take responsibility)
Michael Paul Goldenberg
10/9/95
Read Re: Getting students to take responsibility
Bill Juraschek
10/9/95
Read Re: Getting students to take responsibility
Michael Paul Goldenberg
10/10/95
Read Re: Getting students to take responsibility
DanH150093@aol.com
10/10/95
Read Re: Getting students to take responsibility
Ted Alper
10/10/95
Read Re: Getting students to take responsibility
roitman@oberon.math.ukans.edu
10/10/95
Read Re: Getting students to take responsibility
Ted Alper
10/10/95
Read Re: Getting students to take responsibility
Johnny Hamilton
10/10/95
Read Re: Getting students to take responsibility
DanH150093@aol.com
10/10/95
Read Re: Getting students to take responsibility
Lutemann@aol.com
10/10/95
Read Re: Getting students to take responsibility
Michael Paul Goldenberg
10/10/95
Read Re: Getting students to take responsibility
Michael Paul Goldenberg
10/10/95
Read Re: Getting students to take responsibility
DanH150093@aol.com
10/11/95
Read Re: Getting students to take responsibility
DanH150093@aol.com
10/11/95
Read Re: Getting students to take responsibility
Michael Paul Goldenberg
10/11/95
Read Re: Getting students to take responsibility
clarkcc@PLU.edu
10/11/95
Read Re: Getting students to take responsibility
Lutemann@aol.com
10/11/95
Read Re: Getting students to take responsibility
roitman@oberon.math.ukans.edu
10/11/95
Read Re: Getting students to take responsibility
Ted Alper
10/11/95
Read Re: Getting students to take responsibility
roitman@oberon.math.ukans.edu
10/11/95
Read Re: Getting students to take responsibility
roitman@oberon.math.ukans.edu
10/13/95
Read Re: Getting students to take responsibility
DanH150093@aol.com
10/13/95
Read Re: Getting students to take responsibility
DanH150093@aol.com
10/13/95
Read Re: Getting students to take responsibility
DanH150093@aol.com
10/13/95
Read Re: Getting students to take responsibility
Francis Fennell
10/13/95
Read Re: Getting students to take responsibility
roitman@oberon.math.ukans.edu
10/17/95
Read Re: Getting students to take responsibility
Howard L. Hansen
10/18/95
Read Re: Getting students to take responsibility
DanH150093@aol.com
10/18/95
Read Re: Getting students to take responsibility
Michael Paul Goldenberg
10/19/95
Read Re: Getting students to take responsibility
DanH150093@aol.com
10/19/95
Read You guys...
W Gary Martin
10/19/95
Read Re: You guys...
M. Matras
10/20/95
Read Re: You guys...
DanH150093@aol.com
10/20/95
Read Re: You guys...
Janet V Smith
10/19/95
Read Re: Getting students to take responsibility
roitman@oberon.math.ukans.edu

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