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

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John Threlkeld

Posts: 29
Registered: 11/29/09
RE: Pseudoteaching
Posted: Feb 27, 2011 3:03 PM
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Interesting post. Are you aware of any Modeling Instruction materials that
focus on mathematics?


- ------------------------------
John Threlkeld
Mathematics Dept.
Colorado Academy
3800 S Pierce St
Denver, CO 80235

303-986-1501 x2732

CA is a Pre-K through 12th grade independent school with a century-old
tradition of excellence in academics, ethics, athletics, and the arts.

- -----Original Message-----
From: []
On Behalf Of Mark Hammond
Sent: Friday, February 25, 2011 6:40 AM
Subject: Re: Pseudoteaching

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

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