Annette, Ted, et. al:

This is a huge subject and I'm glad you brought it up!  I've been working on
implementing student centered learning in my classes for going on 20 years
now.  Some observations:

It is much easier to implement these strategies in areas other than the
sciences and math.  In  general, I think the coverage question is important to
look at for any course.  What do you (this is rhetorical, to anyone) mean by
coverage?  Did you mention the concept? Describe it? Lecture about it? Engage
students in a discussion about it?  Have them write about it?  Give them
exercises to learn how to operate it?  Ask some or all to speak about it, in
anything from answering a question through making a formal presentation?  What
defines sufficient coverage?  If a student can work a problem, answer a
multiple choice question, write an essay, or make a speech about the concept,
has he or she mastered it?  If the student is only able to report back what you
or the book said about the subject, is that sufficient to say the material has
been covered?

With the statistics on retention of material heard (as opposed to read,
interacted woth, etc.) hovering around 25%, can we really consider lectures to
"cover"  material?  What are we losing when we use less material, but in a way
that results in understanding to the point of being able to operate concepts
and make discernments about the validity or arguments or ideas?

I think that Annette has the absolute right idea.  She continues to try to find
ways to integrate best practices in teaching while maintain the structures that
have proven successful for her in her teaching.

A problem that I encounter with students is that their experience is being
given the "facts,"  Truth," "Answers,"  and some think I'm not doing my job
when I don't give pat answers but keep asking questions, forcing them to take
responsibility for their learning.  I've been able to get around this to some
extent by explaining my methods.  But, still some students are made very
uncomfortable by a lack of clear hierarchy.

I've got to go now, but I'll comment on first names next week.  Briefly, I
think you have to consider the generation and culture in making that decision.

As always, I enjoy this group.  There's alwys something interesting comeing up.


p.s: A random question based on the six-degrees of separation theory:  Does
anyone know or know people who know Bill Cosby or Oprah Winfrey?  Please e-mail
me off list if you do.  I've got a project I think they'd be interested in.  :

Laura Symons
[log in to unmask]

Annette Gourgey wrote:

> I have tried CL and feel some laboratory format is necessary to learn this
> material well, but it necessarily takes more time for students to wrestle
> with the problems this way.  I have already cut several topics to allow room
> for this, but there is a limit to how much I can cut without doing violence
> to the course and what it is a prerequisite for.
> The result is that I do some cooperative problem solving but not nearly as
> much as I would like for students' active learning.  On the positive side,
> my course is extremely well received even with the limited amount of CL,
> students say it allays their anxieties, and their exam performance is
> generally good.  That tells me I'm on the right track, but I sure wish I
> could squeeze in more lab for deeper understanding.
> Sorry I don't have any solutions, only a question.  Has anyone else
> struggled with this, and how have you tried to deal with it?