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Topic: Another opinion


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Subject:   Improving math education
Author: Joel Duffin
Date: Sep 9 2003
I've been visiting recently with colleagues here at Utah State discussing the
initiation of a new project to help improve math education here in the state.


If you were given an infinite supply of money, time, and personnel, what would
you do?

If you were given a small amount of resources, what would you do?

Who should be targeted? Those that are flunking out, the average student, the
high achiever? What age level?

A number of opinions have been expressed:

-Technology can help, but in itself is not the solution.

-Integrated curriculum can help motivate students, but in itself is not the
answer.

-Highly structured, programmed instruction is needed to help students gain
basic skills, but if it is used in isolation, it results in students' loosing
interest and not learning higher order skills. It should be used in conjunction
with other exploratory and discovery methods.

-We need to start early with students. If we wait until middle school or high
school it is probably too late. A contrasting opinion is that we can in fact
help change the culture of middle school and high school classrooms, which
results in improved student perspectives of mathematics (though possibly not
improved math scores).

-We need to support individualized instruction (a la Mastery Learning). Teach
each student where they are at, and don't move on until they learn it.

-In order to support individualized instruction, a detailed model of what each
student knows should be developed and follow students through their educational
career. This model should be used by teacher to help individualize
instruction.

To me, the challenge seems to be to develop a model, materials, and support
system that teachers will buy into that allows them to individualize
instruction. Does anyone out there have examples of how this has successfully
been accomplished? I am also interested to hear opinions on the points I have
listed.


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