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Re: Creating a List of Online Math Tutoring Sites
Posted:
Nov 29, 2010 10:07 AM


Jonathan,
We had a nice little scandal at UofA. A student set up shop in a popular beer joint with only his laptop. Students taking freshman math courses would come to his table, pay him, and he would do their homework and take their quizzes for them. Since the questions are trivial, he made good grades for them. Very neat little business. He was eventually caught and fined and when the story was reported in the newspaper, the university lowered the percentage of the grade that came from homework but it still was part of their grade. Getting caught was unusual, perhaps unique, but the notion of having the teacher or a tutor or someone else helping you get the homework done is pervasive. I gave a talk about the relationship between grades and assessment of student learning as specified in Beyond Crossroads in Minneapolis in which I told a bunch of anecdotes like that one. As done now grades are essentially meaningless as assessments of student learning.
wayne
Quoting Jonathan Groves <JGroves@Kaplan.edu>:
> Wayne, > > At the Kaplan Math Center, our policy is that we work a different > problem for students than the problem they provide unless we know > for sure that the problem is not one on a graded assignment. > Since the tutors there have had some experience teaching at Kaplan, > they have a good idea of which problems are graded and which ones > are not. If we have doubts about a problem a student asks, > then we take the safe route and assume the problem is one that > appears on a graded assignment. > > As for myself with my own courses, I have no way of enforcing > such policies with tutors the students consult, especially > when I don't know those tutors or how to contact them. > I seriously doubt that more than a few studentsif any > will admit that a tutor had shown them how to work Problem X > as given in exactly the same form given on Assignment Y. > > The courses I teach nowadays use MML and other computer work > as the bulk of their course grade, so it is very difficult to > tell that a tutor is working problems for a student unless > their course grade is low or if they are getting high grades > on assignments but making the kinds of errors in > discussion assignments that would cause me to question the > validity of their A's and B's on other assignments and > exams. Even the latter case is not hard evidence, and > I have not seen it much myself. The students who write > poor discussion assignments almost always make poor grades > on their other assignments. Furthermore, for these courses > I teach, I must use the assignments they provide for the > course. Any other socalled "assignments" I provide must > be for practice only and not for a grade. > > High homework grades and low quiz or exam grades from > students do cause a tricky problem for any one particular > student (and I have seen this a lot myself): Is this > problem caused by the student getting a tutor or someone > else to do their homework for them, or it is caused by > the student not knowing how to work the problems correctly > the first time around? What makes this especially tricky > is that the quizzes or exams they take are completely > computerized so that they need not show work on them. > The MML homework gives them as many chances and as much > time as they want to get the questions correct, so this > latter possibility is plausible. > > Luckily the homework grade in the Florida Tech courses > does not count for a large part of their final grade, > so any such violations they could be making are not > helping students much unless they are also getting the > same kind of assistance with exams. But the homework > grade in Kaplan courses and Argosy courses are significant > parts of their final course grade, so this kind of > violation can greatly inflate their final course grades. > At least Argosy gives weekly quizzes to help combat > that some, but I don't think it is enough. > > > > > Jonathan Groves > > > > > > On 11/28/2010 at 11:28 am, Wayne Mackey wrote: > >> Jonathan, >> >> Probably the only way to avoid having tutors work the >> particular >> problem is to make it a rule that if you help a >> student on a >> particular problem, you must provide an equivalent >> but different >> problem for the student to work on alone. Students >> must be given an >> opportunity to learn how to solve all equivalent >> problems, not just >> the few assigned. >> >> wayne >> >> Quoting Jonathan Groves <JGroves@Kaplan.edu>: >> >> > Alain and others, >> > >> > There's the rub: If we insist on just those online >> math tutoring sites or >> > any other math tutoring services that avoid >> traditional ways of teaching >> > math, that avoid show and tell, that avoid simply >> telling students what >> > to do to solve a particular problem, then we will >> find very few options >> > if we can even find anything. >> > >> > SmarThinking seems to be the best option I have >> seen so far that avoids >> > this approach to tutoring mathematics. I have an >> account that allows me >> > to enter as a student to check out their tutoring, >> and I should do that >> > soon. The information on their approach to >> tutoring I had gotten from a >> > webinar sometime ago that had discussed the >> services provided by >> > SmarThinking. >> > So I should go there sometime to see how well they >> stick with their >> > philosophy of Socratic approach to tutoring. >> > >> > I should also check their prices. Florida Tech >> students get some free hours, >> > but they can have their free hours increased under >> the recommendation of one >> > of their professors. >> > >> > Here is another rub: Even if we can find math >> tutoring services that avoid >> > these traditional approaches to math education, how >> many students are >> > willing to give that tutoring a shot? The classes >> I have been teaching >> > lately are the kinds of classes at these schools >> where few students try >> > tutoring. In fact, I had worked in several >> tutoring centers at several >> > universities, and I work in one now, and my >> experience tells me that >> > few remedial math students visit their university's >> tutoring centers. >> > I can't say with much certainty about other outside >> tutoring services >> > since many students may use them without you being >> aware of it. >> > Most students thus far who have told me that they >> were using outside >> > help had referred to a friend or a coworker or a >> relative for tutoring. >> > >> > Many tutoring services use the traditional ways of >> tutoring math either >> > because that is the way that most tutors are >> familiar with or because >> > the tutoring services serve enough students that >> tutors lack the time >> > to tutor using nontraditional approaches that may >> be more beneficial >> > to most students than the traditional ways. And >> many of the students >> > are also in a hurry and so do not have the time to >> be tutored in >> > these alternate ways. Others tutor in these >> traditional ways because >> > they believe that this what students expect and >> even want from >> > their tutoring. No doubt that some (perhaps many) >> students resist >> > any approach to teaching mathematics that is not >> traditional >> > because they think they must learn basic skills >> first before >> > learning to think or because they believe the >> traditional ways >> > which is often all that students have seenare the >> ways to do it >> > because "everyone else does it that way" or simply >> because it >> > is familar to them. In fact, multiple students of >> mine have >> > mentioned their kids learning math more along the >> lines of reformists' >> > views of math education than traditionalists' views >> of math >> > education, and they had mentioned that this >> teaching seems very >> > weird to them. Still others believe that their >> failures to >> > learn mathematics under traditional ways of >> teaching are not >> > because of faulty teaching but because they believe >> they are >> > not intelligent enough to learn mathematicsthat >> is, they believe >> > the problem is with themselves, not with their >> previous math classes. >> > >> > Here is a third rub: As Alain saysand I agree >> with himoffering >> > tutoring or any other resources that use these >> nontraditional >> > approaches to learning mathematics in a badly >> designed course >> > with the textbook and assignments and exams still >> being very >> > much in line with commerical textbooks does not >> offer much help >> > to students. Such courses will need to completely >> restructed >> > to offer any real benefit to the vast majority of >> students who >> > struggle greatly with math. >> > >> > Despite the problems with referring students to >> online or >> > other tutoring services that use nontraditional >> approaches >> > to math tutoring, I would still be interested in >> getting >> > some information about these. >> > >> > In short, all I feel I can do at this time is to do >> the best >> > with what the students and I have to work with. So >> maybe >> > I could also ask about tutoring services that >> others have >> > seen students speak about positivelyas long as >> the tutors >> > are not the kinds of people who do the homework and >> other >> > assignments for students. >> > >> > >> > >> > >> > Jonathan Groves >> > >> > >> > >> > >> > On 11/21/2010 at 11:53 pm, Alain Schremmer wrote: >> > >> >> On Nov 21, 2010, at 8:53 PM, Jonathan Groves >> wrote: >> >> >> >> > And what information I have so far on their >> >> tutoring tells me that >> >> > their tutoring is not helpful to most math >> >> students. >> >> >> >> How could it be otherwise? >> >> >> >> Puzzled regards >> >> schremmer >> > >> > >> ****************************************************** >> ********************** >> > * To post to the list: email mathedcc@mathforum.org >> * >> > * To unsubscribe, email the message "unsubscribe >> mathedcc" to >> > majordomo@mathforum.org * >> > * Archives at >> http://mathforum.org/kb/forum.jspa?forumID=184 * >> > >> ****************************************************** >> ********************** >> > >> >> >> >> ****************************************************** >> ********************** >> * To post to the list: email mathedcc@mathforum.org * >> * To unsubscribe, email the message "unsubscribe >> mathedcc" to majordomo@mathforum.org * >> * Archives at >> http://mathforum.org/kb/forum.jspa?forumID=184 * >> ****************************************************** >> ********************** > **************************************************************************** > * To post to the list: email mathedcc@mathforum.org * > * To unsubscribe, email the message "unsubscribe mathedcc" to > majordomo@mathforum.org * > * Archives at http://mathforum.org/kb/forum.jspa?forumID=184 * > **************************************************************************** >
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