Saturday, May 17, 2014

Data Points Toward Active Learning

NSF recently posted a summary findings from a study by Freeman et al (Link to NSF News Release "Enough with the Lecturing")    The original article appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of the Sciences and is a meta-analysis of research from STEM fields.

 I have been saying for a few years that "All the vectors are pointing in the same direction."   The data continues to accumulate and the preponderance on evidence suggests that we should be engaging our students actively in high-quality tasks.

No guilt or shame.  We're all in this together, and I believe everyone who works hard at teaching has good intentions and the best interests of students at heart.  The perspective I like to take is one that is used in medicine.  When new techniques or treatments are shown through evidence to provide better care for patients, then the medical community adopts those new practices.  Likewise we can do the same in teaching.  We study, we collect data, we learn from our efforts, and we put those things into our classrooms. It's the logical thing to do.

Implementation is where the biggest challenge is.  Implementing IBL methods is challenging and takes a significant effort initially.   The estimates we have available are that it takes about 100 hours for a new instructor to get started, and several hundred additional hours to build the necessary expertise.  This is based on my experiences running weeklong IBL workshops and organizing the AIBL Mentor Program.   But the skills learned stick, and once instructors get acclimated to IBL methods, they tend to continue using them.   At the moment professional organizations including (but not limited to) the MAA and AIBL are the platforms for implementing these changes, as they focus on instructors and supporting them through the process of developing teaching skills and practices.

The evidence grows each day in support of active, student-centered instruction. If you feel the call to take action, come join the Academy of Inquiry Based Learning and get started!

Upward and onward!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Student Testimonial: Alfred and Diana

I am happy to share an interview of Alfred and Diana, two math majors at CSU Monterey Bay.  This interview was filmed in April 2014, by Kaylene Wakeman, AIBL and Cal Poly.  Their instructor is Professor Rachel Esselstein, Department of Mathematics CSU Monterey Bay.

Transformation is a term we use in the IBL community.  The word, transformation, truly is appropriate.  It's hard to convey the experience of teaching via IBL through data or talking about it in a presentation. The experience of working with students, seeing them grow, believe in themselves more and more each day, discovering that they can be movers and doers.  It's special.  This interview captures some of that magic.