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Topic: Pseudoteaching
Replies: 31   Last Post: Apr 19, 2011 9:35 AM

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Robert Hansen

Posts: 11,345
From: Florida
Registered: 6/22/09
Re: Pseudoteaching
Posted: Feb 25, 2011 9:45 AM
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Hey, another physicist, that makes two of us, welcome to the forum. It wasn't a cheap shot Mark, I contend that Dan's foray into pictures was mostly about Dan and blogging and entertaining, and not about better results in his students, or any students for that matter. Essentially, Dan is milking the problem with math attainment, not solving it.

I think the confusion between cheap shots and blunt criticism has a lot to do with the nature of our two worlds. I am in a competitive world where my job hinges on producing authentic results and this in turn produces strong egos. While teachers are generally isolated from that competition and when someone criticizes them or one of their brethren, they tend to take it personally.

I will be very clear, I don't dislike Dan, I don't even know Dan, but as a fixer of the math problem, I think he is a fraud. As a blogger, he is pretty good though.

Speaking of physics, I would be very interested in seeing your final exams. I have a debate going on with Hake regarding the FCI in which I claim that teachers are taking it the wrong way and creating their courses (as you are) in order to do well on the FCI and that this in turn is deprecating math from high school physics creating a very weak (and truly not physics) experience for our aspiring engineers and physicists. You appear to have made gains on the FCI and by looking at the final exam I can tell where you pointed your ship.

Bob Hansen

> I appreciate your demand for more scientific rigor in
> analyzing our teaching. Let's see if a physicist can
> help. Trying to analyze quantitatively a single
> lesson is tough. What about a whole year? I started
> out teaching with the standard textbook reading
> followed by lecture followed by homework practice
> problems followed by laboratory experience sequence.
> Just the way I was taught. Force Concept Inventory
> (given before and after the course) scores averaged
> in the mid to upper 60's (very good, but not so
> unusual with highly motivated students with strong
> mathematics backgrounds). I was not satisfied... I
> felt my students were missing too many obvious basics
> by the end of the year.
> I first tried to slow down... while my first years of
> teaching were in no way "mile wide inch deep" I
> thought that perhaps spending more time on the
> fundamentals of energy and Newton's Laws would help.
> Results as measured by the FCI were no different.
> I then went with more of an inquiry approach. I
> created my own materials (well, with MUCH help from a
> colleague... WE created our materials) based off of
> the Physics By Inquiry materials from U of
> Washington.
> So, hold your hats... the results as measured by the
> FCI? Not much difference. A bit higher, but not
> significantly different. More pseudoteaching? Very
> different teaching, but not what I was looking for in
> the form of results.
> Then I took a summer course on Modeling Instruction.
> I modified my materials again, used some of the
> Modeling instruction materials, created some totally
> new stuff (much with the help of some of the people
> contributing to all this pseudoteaching buzz). The
> results were a great increase the effectiveness of my
> teaching (at least as measured by the FCI). My
> classes have now achieved average FCI scores of over
> 80% (very rare for high school courses) two years
> running, and there is no difference between my
> colleague's classes scores and mine.
> It appears that we have made a difference in our
> teaching, as measured by a widely accepted standard
> (the FCI).
> As for this thread, I am uncomfortable with some of
> the language. We need to be able to disagree and
> discuss without getting personal. And to condemn
> someone for going back to graduate school is
> confusing to me. If anyone I know exudes the spirit
> of "I need to improve my teaching, I'm not done yet,"
> it is Dan Meyer. To suggest that he's figured out how
> to teach and now doesn't teach anymore is a cheap
> shot and not at all accurate. The self-reflection of
> people like John Burk, Frank Noschese and Dan Meyer
> is continuous and utterly professional. To suggest
> otherwise is to deny their hard work just because you
> don't like all of their conclusions. Hold them to the
> standard of evidence and scientific inquiry, yes,
> but, please, no cheap shots.

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