Well Jerry, I work with these people (certainly anyone in any engineering capacity does) and I can tell you that what they are doing is just old fashioned hard core schooling. I can keep up, thus I still have a job and I owe that entirely to the fact that I attended high school in 1976 and not in 1996 or 2006. I would be looking for a job if I had attended many of the physics and calculus classes that have appeared in the last 20 years. They don't just miss the point of these subjects, they alienate the students from the point. The curriculums end up not to be reflections of the intrinsic beauty in these subjects, they are reflections of the prejudices of the authors to these subjects. Harsh words, but it is the truth. Reformist spend more time trying to alienate traditional methods than improving upon them. A fad that has run its course I suspect. What lies ahead now is getting the students to put down the video games and do the necessary work, individually, even if in a group setting. The only way that will happen, and the only reason I guess it would happen, is if the students want it enough. The economy being what it is and will be for the foreseeable future, I think many of them will want it enough. Will schools meet that demand and put back in place those "hard" classes I had the fortune to take? I guess we will see. I am not sure how we handle the contrast between the actual physics class and the introductory / terminal physics classes we see now. We could just tell the truth. If you are up to it and feel it in yourself, take the real class. If not, take the introductory one and maybe you you will find it in yourself and then take the real one. I do think offering physics earlier would help, but only if it is elective. If it is mandatory it will just make things worse, unless you haven't learned anything yet about what happens when you make advanced subjects mandatory.
I would take heart in at least something. That concept inventories mean something. Now if you would only add to that a functional inventory and be honest with all of the work and teacher (expert) input it takes to make that all come together for real, you might just get back to where we were with these advanced subjects. Oh, and most important, the student has to want it as well. You can't synthesize that element.
On Jan 22, 2012, at 10:47 PM, Jerome Epstein wrote:
> I would add to Richard's interesting post that it is far from clear, and > partly a matter of definition, as to whether the Chinese students were > indeed NOT in Interactive-Engagement (IE) classes. By "classes" I think > we must mean the time spent in structured learning situations. This is > clearly something that I, and I hope others, will seriously investigate. > Richar'd comments on the fact that Chinese students have been asked to > operate at a higher cognitive level than American students for some > years is quite meaningful. But we must also keep in mind, that the time > spent in the lecture is in general less than half of the time they spend > in learning structured situations. It has been heavily documented that > Chinese students, at many levels form the habit of spending extra hours > with friends and classmates in small group work and discussion on > homework problems and on class content. My strong working hypothesis is > that this is a major part of the observed difference. > > Jerry Epstein > > On 1/22/2012 9:42 PM, Richard Hake wrote: > > > > Some subscribers to Math-Learn might be interested in a recent > > discussion-list post "Re: FCI and CCI in China #2" [Hake (2012)]. > > The abstract reads: > > > > *********************************************** > > ABSTRACT: PhysLrnR's Jerry Epstein wrote (paraphrasing): "The > > Calculus Concept Inventory (CCI) has been given to about 1000 > > university students enrolled in a TEACHER-CENTERED calculus course in > > Shanghai, China. Their average normalized gains <g> were about > > two-standard deviations above those of U.S. university calculus > > courses, possibly due to student-organized out-of-class interactive > > group work." > > > > Craig Ogilvie responded: "Are there FCI (Force Concept Inventory) > > gains reported for a similar group of students/physics courses in > > China? It would support your hypothesis if they also showed high > > gains for non-IE pedagogy." Here IE = "Interactive Engagement," > > *operationally* defined [Hake (1998a)] as "those designed at least in > > part to promote conceptual understanding through the active > > engagement of students in heads-on (always) and hands-on (usually) > > activities that yield immediate feedback through discussion with > > peers and/or instructors." > > > > David Meltzer then pointed to the research of Bao et al. on FCI > > pretest scores of Chinese and U.S. freshmen university students > > enrolled in science/engineering major courses, whose publication in > > the "Science" article "Learning and Scientific Reasoning: Comparisons > > of Chinese and U.S. Students" at <http://bit.ly/90sdAG> has been > > widely publicized. > > > > Although Bao et al. measured only pretest scores (not pre-to-posttest > > gains) for Chinese freshmen university students enrolled in > > science/engineering major courses, they pointed out that those > > students had taken "algebra-based courses with emphasis on > > development of conceptual understanding and skills needed to solve > > problems" for FIVE YEARS in grades 8-12, whereas the U.S. students > > had taken at most ONE YEAR of physics. > > > > That suggests that the Chinese K-12 math curriculum might also be > > more intensive than that in the U.S. IF that's the case then it > > might help to explain the relatively high CCI gains for non-IE > > pedagogy, irrespective of possible student-organized out-of-class > > interactive group work. > > *********************************************** > > > > To access the complete 16 kB post please click on <http://bit.ly/zz7WXk> > > > > 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) > > <firstname.lastname@example.org <mailto:rrhake%40earthlink.net>> > > <http://www.physics.indiana.edu/~hake > > <http://www.physics.indiana.edu/%7Ehake>> > > <http://www.physics.indiana.edu/~sdi > > <http://www.physics.indiana.edu/%7Esdi>> > > <http://HakesEdStuff.blogspot.com> > > <http://iub.academia.edu/RichardHake> > > > > REFERENCES [URL shortened by <http://bit.ly/> and accessed on 22 Jan > > 2012.] > > Hake, R.R. 2012. "Re: FCI and CCI in China #2 online on the OPEN! > > AERA-L archives at <http://bit.ly/zz7WXk>. Post of 22 Jan 2012 > > 16:27:43-0800 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 <http://bit.ly/AbW5oy> with a > > provision for comments. > > > > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed] > > > > > > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed] > >
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]