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Topic: The 'Teacher Effect' - Response to Hansen #4
Replies: 8   Last Post: Apr 24, 2011 8:44 AM

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Jonathan Groves

Posts: 2,068
From: Kaplan University, Argosy University, Florida Institute of Technology
Registered: 8/18/05
Re: The 'Teacher Effect' - Response to Hansen #4
Posted: Apr 23, 2011 10:14 PM
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On 4/23/2011 at 10:33 am, Alain Schremmer wrote (in part):

> Well, if I may, I would start by offering the
> following observations
> (of mine):

> >> Historically, note taking during lectures was the
> main way
> >> knowledge was transmitted but this no longer needs
> to be the case.
> >>
> >> Moreover, lectures do not facilitate understanding

> in that
> >> understanding requires:
> >>
> >> -- familiarization which takes time while lectures

> press on,
> >>
> >> -- precise questions which are difficult to

> formulate while trying
> >> to keep up with a lecture,
> >>
> >> -- explicit expression which note taking rarely

> produces.
> Now, with a textbook that does not correspond to the
> learning I want
> to occur, I am going to be forced to lecture. But,
> if, so to speak, I
> commit my lecture to print, then I can let the
> students read my text
> and devote class time to the questions that the text
> raises in the
> mind of the students.
> Of course, in real life, things do not work this way:
> few students
> will (a) read the text in preparation for the class,
> (b) be
> "sophisticated" enough to ask precise questions. So,
> we need not only
> a text but ancillaries that will "force" the students
> to read the
> text and to ask questions. Roughly, this is part of
> what has pushed
> me into writing the stuff on
> <>.
> How successful am I? The short answer is that it is
> no worse than
> what I used to get when lecturing "against" a
> textbook I didn't agree
> with but I will leave the long answer for another
> time.


I can't claim to speak for you, but I would continue using such
approaches simply because they are essentially the only ones that
give students a fighting chance to learn mathematics beyond
memorization and doing well on tests and making good grades in

That is the answer I have given to several on Math-Teach who feel
that such approaches are not going to work because most of the
students are already lost causes so why bother trying? Regardless
of what the success rate I can get from such approaches, they
are the only ones I see that give students some ray of hope.

Of course, the specifics of such approaches can vary considerably.
Even the specifics of what to teach and how to develop the subject
itself can vary considerably as well. But whatever approach we
choose to use, choosing one that is essentially no different from
what and how they were taught in K-12 is NOT the way to go:
If it has not worked with them all this time and with classes
that moved far more slowly than the ones we teach in college,
why should we believe that trying this once again will suddenly work?

I wonder if having students take a course similar to Math 15 Overview
of Mathematics that Keith Devlin has offered at Stanford will be good
to do. It is worth considering because Devlin has had pretty good
success so far with his class. More information can be found at


One problem is that I do not have access to his course reader.
And, unfortunately, because he is a researcher and not faculty at
Stanford, he cannot offer this course regularly.

Jonathan Groves

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