Orlando Meetings: Presentation Summary

Back to Orlando: Pre-Service Teacher Ed

This is the summary of a presentation given at the Joint Mathematics Meetings, January 10-13, 1996, Orlando, Florida.

Creating an Active Learning Environment:
Preparing Pre-Service Teachers Using Faculty Development Workshops

We have a unique situation at the United States Military Academy. Each year we replace about 1/3 of our entire mathematics faculty of about 62 strong. It is imperative that our in-coming new instructors, assistant professors, and professors be prepared to teach the course required in our unique setting. We teach according to the Thayer System. In this system students are required to read the assignment and do the drill homework prior to attending class. Class sizes are normally small. between 12-19 students. The instructor then becomes a facilitator and motivator about the material. The students spend a lot of their 55 minute class time working problems at their black boards or on computer terminals and then the students brief their solutions to the class. There is a lot of work to be done by the instructor so we have developed about a six week workshop to accomplish several functions: to present seminars in our first course Discrete Dynamical Systems which most will teach to present cadre classes to focus on style versus content to have each new instructor present several practice classes to peers and workshop facilitators to have new faculty practice, use, and become confident on our technology (HP-48G and computer systems: Derive, EXCEL, and MlNITAB.) We video tape their practice classes so they can view their class. We ask them to critique their own class and then many viewers will offer tips or suggestions. The faculty is well prepared on the first day of class to be the teacher that is remembered for the right reasons. They are empower to kindle the minds of our students. We do not end their development in the summer. Every Tuesday afternoon is devoted to Faculty Development time. We meet to discuss issues in class, methods of presenting materials, suggestions for projects and grading, as well as seminars and colloquia on interesting and relevant topics. Additionally, we host a weekly Center for Faculty Development seminar to discuss lively topics such a student motivation group learning, testing and evaluation, as well as other pedagogical issues. We run five different development seminars over the three years experience .

Dr. William P. Fox
Department of Mathematical Sciences
West Point, NY 10996-1786

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