Learn the Game of Learning

The title of this posting is the title of a chapter in “Making Learning Whole”, by David Perkins (2009). Of the books on education I have read to date, this is the first that resonated completely with me.  He describes the way I try to teach, and more – thus giving me much to reflect upon.  I recommend it highly.

The list of skills related to “the game of learning” I see as being most important for math and science students to acquire, and therefore worth devoting some time to teaching explicitly over the course of the school year (since they are also more generally applicable) are:

  • What is it you need to learn: a concept, a skill, or a fact? Concepts can often require thought, and time spent discussing them with others while being watchful for subtleties. Skills often require repetition and varying levels of difficulty. Facts can sometimes be obvious if they are based on an underlying concept; if the facts are not obvious, search for a way to link them to one or more concepts or themes, then practice retrieving them along with related information.
  • Frustration is a normal part of the learning process, one which can often lead to greater understanding and retention once you have worked your way through it. Expect to become Continue reading Learn the Game of Learning

ConcepTests and Peer Instruction

I just came across this 1 hour and 20 minute video of Eric Mazur talking about using the Force Concept Inventory to teach physics, advocating “peer instruction”, and presenting data from his courses before and after he changed his instructional techniques.

This is great stuff.  My teaching and learning experiences have convinced me wholeheartedly that these ideas apply equally well to mathematics instruction and should be implemented at all levels. Having said that, I also recognize that it can be very difficult to implement some of these approaches in early Algebra, particularly when using an existing textbook that takes a traditional approach…