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Discussion: Research Area
Topic: Continuity and student learning outcomes


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Subject:   RE: Continuity and student learning outcomes
Author: Mathman
Date: Aug 29 2005
On Aug 29 2005, Jimbo wrote:
> In our senior secondary college we are about to undergo a review of
> our timetable structure.  The feeling here at the moment is that
> longer lessons during a week (and hence fewer contacts with
> students) will improve student learning outcomes.  I have a gut
> feeling that, in mathematics, I'd like to see the students more
> often for shorter periods of time.  Does anyone know of any current
> quantitative research along these lines that I might view to put my
> mind at rest one way or another?

Not research but personal experience, for what it's worth:  I taught high school
math through many changes over the years.  One was from a year-long course
where we saw students for roughly the half hour over the year, to semestering
where we saw them for roughly the hour over a half-year.  This is OK for the
teacher perhaps, but not so for the student who has more to consider during the
hour; more to consider for homework; more to retain over a shorter period of
time; less time to allow for absorption before new material is introduced; the
same evening hours for homework and more to cover in that time slot... the list
goes on.  Consider extremes ...a set of very long classroom periods over a
complete very short period of time is called a cram course, so you are
appoaching that sort of teaching plan, which is not desireable in my opinion.
There may be a case for lengthening some classroom periods though, as in lab
situations.

Unless the course is in fact extended, then will the full course time diminish
accordingly [as in semestering]?  One problem noted but not taken into account
is the loss of retention over possibly longer periods of absence from that
particular study.  That results in more need for review, which takes time from
more advanced study. ...Again the list goes on, and it is not a topic addressed
so simply.

Or I could be off-track in what you need to know, in which case I
apologise.

David.

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