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Jul. 31st, 2012 | 12:10 pm
mood: excitedexcited

Well, that was interesting.

From the little reading I've done on complex instruction, I decided to give the class more challenging group problems to work on ('group-worthy' problems). I figured that I only have two weeks left of teaching, and no energy, so sorting out the group dynamics probably isn't going to happen, but I could relatively easily find more challenging group work. So today I picked for of the most difficult area calculation problems, and assigned one to each group. I've also been reading that students on the whole prefer it if the teacher doesn't give hints, just lets them figure it out for themselves. So I sat myself down at the front of the class, and studiously ignored the plaintive meepings. An interesting thing happened! The problems were really tricky - certainly not the kind of thing that could be solved by inspection. Initially, I heard the only the 'strong' students in each group talking. Then they trailed off, and there was silence for a while. Then other people in each group started putting forward ideas, and suddenly everyone was chattering away, and gradually I heard cries of "Oh! That's it! We got it!". I asked each group how they got to the solution, and it was a definite team effort, with useful insights coming from multiple people. 

Thought provoking.

After class I was chatting with one of the students who's doing his degree at Oshkosh (just taking this course in Madison because Oshkosh doesn't offer it during the summer). He was telling me about the previous course he did at Oshkosh, which was entirely group based; it sounded really excellent. He's going to bring me the textbook if he can find it, so I can see how it is structured. I really feel like I'm onto something here...

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from: schedule5
date: Aug. 10th, 2012 07:24 pm (UTC)

That sounds really interesting. After your midterms I'll come a-knocking for some of your "complex instruction" links. Now I REALLY hate the chalk and talk method of teaching that I'm doing at school.

My inspiration for problem-solving remains 2nd year astro. Real, engaging, hard, doable problems. Loved it - but it might have been even better in a group tutorial way.

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