The Math Forum

Search All of the Math Forum:

Views expressed in these public forums are not endorsed by NCTM or The Math Forum.

Math Forum » Discussions » Education » math-learn

Notice: We are no longer accepting new posts, but the forums will continue to be readable.

Topic: [math-learn] Re: Research on the Extent of Active Learning - Merbitz's PSI Plug
Replies: 3   Last Post: Jan 9, 2012 4:03 PM

Advanced Search

Back to Topic List Back to Topic List Jump to Tree View Jump to Tree View   Messages: [ Previous | Next ]
Robert Hansen

Posts: 11,345
From: Florida
Registered: 6/22/09
Re: [math-learn] Re: Research on the Extent of Active Learning - Merbitz's PSI Plug
Posted: Dec 7, 2011 6:58 AM
  Click to see the message monospaced in plain text Plain Text   Click to reply to this topic Reply

Hake, you offer quotations and anecdotes but have you ever really listened to your critics? I don't think you have nor do I think you understand their main argument against your methods. Your methods and measures of "learning" do not compare well with the results we get with students that aspire to these subjects. You claim that you can teach everyone a little bit of physics, better than the traditional methods can. Maybe you can, maybe you can't, but that is not the point of contention here. The purpose of the traditional methods was never to teach everyone a little bit of physics, it was to teach the aspiring physics students a lot of physics and to the same depth that we enjoy (those of us who have been successful in physics). Somewhere along your path, you have confused these two purposes. Mezur talks about the traditional physics student and their innate desire and drive to figure things out. That is the target of the traditional methods and always will be the target of traditional methods. When you take out the innate desire to figure things out then you really aren't talking about "teaching physics", not in the sense where teaching is the act of transferring mastery of the subject from the teacher to the student.

Your critics say that the aspiring physics student with that innate desire and drive to figure things out needs a curriculum rich with explanatory dialog. Indeed, when you have a class of students with those necessary desires the dialog tends towards lecture and explanation all by itself, naturally. But you do not address all of this. Instead you pepper us with datasets showing averages amongst everyone. You don't go to MIT or Harvard and have the students in one of your PER classes take the final exam in the traditional class and have the traditional class do the same. That would settle it pretty quickly, wouldn't it? I mean, we would get an immediate view of just how much physics is in physics and how much aspiring students are capable of. You and I both know what the outcome will be. The PER students will fail the traditional final exam while the traditional students will do well on both exams, assuming that each group at least did well on their respective exams.

I believe some of your methods have worth for students that have not caught the bug for this subject. But I don't think hey compare favorably at all with the methods used with the students that have. I have suggested many times that maybe your message would be better received if you made that distinction. That PER is not meant to get you into the physics club. Personal choice, aspiration, hard work, and yes, some talent will get you into the physics club. But if you want to teach some physics to the rest of the students that don't aspire to be in the physics club then some of the methods in PER are more realistic and might be enough of a trigger to propel some students into actual physics and the more demanding traditional treatment. Maybe they will find their aspiration.

But you have rejected that notion because (I believe) you have convoluted an academic issue with a social issue, and if you have learned anything through this experience, I hope that you have learned that you do neither of those issues justice when you convolute them.

Bob Hansen

On Dec 6, 2011, at 11:15 PM, Richard Hake wrote:

> Some subscribers to Math-Learn might be interested in "Research on
> the Extent of Active Learning - Merbitz's PSI Plug" [Hake (2011b)].
> The abstract reads:
> *************************************************
> ABSTRACT: In "Re: Research on the Extent of Active Learning" [Hake
> (2011a)] at <>, I stated "the glacial inertia of
> the educational system, though not well understood, appears to be
> typical of the slow 'Diffusion of Innovations' [Rogers (2003)] in
> human society."
> SClistserv's Chuck Merbitz (2011) responded (paraphrasing): "I'm not
> surprised at the glacial pace or the burial of innovations: 20 years
> ago Sherman (1992) reviewed the 'Personalized System of Instruction
> (PSI)' a highly effective innovation published most famously 43 years
> ago by psychologist Fred S. Keller (1968)
> <> in 'Goodbye,
> teacher....' . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . In her book
> "Mastery Learning in the Science Classroom: Success for Every
> Student," Kelly Morgan (2011)] speculates that PSI is not widely used
> because *its very success at teaching students was a factor in its
> abandonment* - it upsets the social structure when too many learners
> master the material, a finding that has been replicated in the
> precision teaching world
> <>. . . . .[[My
> Insert: "and in the physics education world
> <>"]]. . . . ."
> For another take on the demise of PSI see "The rise and fall of PSI
> physics at MIT" [Friedman et al. (1976)] at <>.
> For the burial of innovations see, e.g., "Re: Interactive Engagement
> Has Many Forms" [Hake (2005] at <>.
> *************************************************
> To access the complete 17 kB post please click on <>.
> Richard Hake, Emeritus Professor of Physics, Indiana University
> Honorary Member, Curmudgeon Lodge of Deventer, The Netherlands
> President, PEdants for Definitive Academic References
> which Recognize the Invention of the Internet (PEDARRII)
> <>
> Links to Articles: <>
> Links to SDI Labs: <>
> Blog: <>
> Academia: <>
> "And it ought to be remembered that there is nothing more difficult
> to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain of
> success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of
> things. Because the innovator has for enemies all those who have
> done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those
> who may do well under the new. This coolness arises partly from fear
> of the opponents, who have the laws on their side, and partly from
> the incredulity of men, who do not readily believe in new things
> until they have had a long experience with them. Thus it happens that
> whenever those who are hostile have the opportunity to attack they do
> it like partisans, whilst the others defend lukewarmly...."
> Machiavelli ("The Prince," 1515)
> "The PRIMA FACIE AFFRONT: Whereas I have spent a significant fraction
> of my professional life perfecting my lectures and otherwise
> investing conscientiously in the status quo, therefore to suggest an
> alternative is, by definition, to attack me."
> Halfman et al. (1977)
> REFERENCES [All URL's shortened by <> and accessed on 6
> Dec 2011.]
> Hake, R.R. 2011a. "Re: Research on the Extent of Active Learning,"
> online on the OPEN! AERA-L archives at <>. Post
> of 4 Dec 2011 19:01:5-0800 to AERA-L and Net-Gold. The abstract and
> link to the complete post are being transmitted to several discussion
> lists and are also on my blog "Hake'sEdStuff" at
> <> with a provision for comments.
> Hake, R.R. 2011b. "Research on the Extent of Active Learning -
> Merbitz's PSI Plug" online on the OPEN! AERA-L archives at
> <>. Post of 6 Dec 2011 15:09:34-0800 to AERA-L
> and Net-Gold. The abstract and link to the complete post are being
> transmitted to several discussion lists and are also on my blog
> "Hake'sEdStuff" at <> with a provision for
> comments.
> Halfman, R., M. L.A. MacVicar, W.T. Martin, E.F. Taylor, & J.R.
> Zacharias. 1977. "Tactics for Change." MIT Occasional Paper No. 11;
> online at <>. Thanks to John Belcher for placing
> this gem on the web.
> Machiavelli, N. 1515. "The Prince," translated by W.K. Marriott,
> online at <> thanks to the "Constitution Society."
> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]


Yahoo! Groups Links

<*> To visit your group on the web, go to:

<*> Your email settings:
Individual Email | Traditional

<*> To change settings online go to:
(Yahoo! ID required)

<*> To change settings via email:

<*> To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:

<*> Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to:

Point your RSS reader here for a feed of the latest messages in this topic.

[Privacy Policy] [Terms of Use]

© The Math Forum at NCTM 1994-2018. All Rights Reserved.