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Arts and Sciences | 2003

“Using Web Technology to Support Just-in-Time-Teaching and Peer Instruction in Teaching Calculus”

Maria Terrell

"If students come to class having read the section in advance, the instructor can shift some of the time…to conceptual questions and…discussion."

About

Maria Terrell's project aims to help students in Math 111, Calculus I, develop a stronger conceptual understanding of homework assignments, and get then thinking about concepts before they are covered in class, a technique known as Just-In-Time Teaching. During class, instructors pose concept-driven questions that apply concepts to familiar situations. A computerized polling system collects students opinions of the right answer, then students discuss their answer with their neighbor before responding to the poll again. This Peer Instruction approach significantly increases students' ability to understand and articulate concepts.

Instructors observed more active class participation resulting from student enthusiasm for the polling technology and collaborative learning activities. The ease of use of the polling system enabled instructors (apporximately 20) to adopt the technology with a relatively short learning curve. Course assessments seem to indicate that the combination of strategies and technologies is having a positive impact on student understanding of concepts as well as their ability to perform calculations. Peer instruction is gave students numerous opportunities to make conjectures and argue their validity while encouraging them to come to class prepared to participate.

Technologies

  • A web-based assessment system designed specifically for math (Maple T.A.)
  • In-class polling system with radio-frequency transmitters and receiver connected to laptop and projector (Turning Point clickers)
  • Online surveys to collect demographic data for research purposes and to assess student and instructor satisfaction

Publications

Asking Good Questions in the Mathematics Classroom

Terrel, Maria. 2003. Asking good questions in the mathematics classroom. Mathematicians and Education Reform Forum Newsletter 15 (2).

Presentations

Good Questions for Deep Learning in Mathematics

Terrel, Maria. 2004. "Good questions for deep learning in mathematics." Poster presentation at Invention and Impact: Building Excellence in Undergraduate Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Impact, Crystal City, Virginia. April.

Improving Calculus: Developing Concepts Through Good Questions

Terrel, Maria. 2004. "Improving calculus: Developing concepts through good questions," MAA Poster Session on Projects Supported by NSF, Joint Mathematics Meeting, Phoenix, AZ, January 7-10, 2004

Good Questions for Deep Learning in Mathematics

Terrel, Maria. 2004. "Good questions for deep learning in mathematics." Presentation at the Dek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning, Harvard University, April 30.

Asking Good Questions in the Mathematics Classroom

Terrel, Maria. 2003. "Asking good questions in the mathematics classroom." AMS-MER Workshop Excellence in Undergraduate Mathematics: Mathematics for Teachers and Mathematics for Teaching, March 13-16, 2003; Ithaca College, Ithaca, New York.

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