Thursday, July 27, 2006

Teaming up

I've been poking around in the literature on building and managing teamwork in the mathematics classroom, in both cooperative and collaborative settings, and as a result I feel much more comfortable in refining the methodology I'd had in mind for putting together the permanent research teams for MATH 365.

While Day 1 of the course will (through the Markov Dance) introduce the students to elements of the subject of linear algebra itself, Day 2 will be devoted to the foundations of team work. The students' first assignment, from Day 1 to Day 2, will be to read the syllabus (and be prepared to be quizzed on it, both in pairs and individually) and to fill out the introductory questionnaire, which I've just now redesigned to allow me to construct teams more effectively.

Teams will be put together based primarily upon ease of convening, both in time and in space: I will make every attempt to build 3- and 4-person teams by grouping together folks who live close to one another and who are available to meet at similar times.

On the second day, these teams will meet to introduce themselves to one another (should they not know each other already) and to take part in a discussion of various elements of collaborating on long-term research projects.

Part of the homework for Day 3 will consist of reading over (as a team!) the research project descriptions. For Day 6, I will ask the each team to have written a proposal indicating that team's top three choices of research projects (ranked from first to third), the reasons for choosing those three projects, and the team's justification of their qualifications for working on those projects. (NSF, can you hear me now?)

Hmmm...

Before I forget, much thanks goes to the MAA publication, Cooperative learning in undergraduate mathematics: issues that matter and strategies that work (ed. Elizabeth C. Rogers, et al.), for much of the information that's gone into the team design sketched above.

1 comment:

Breezy said...

tag, you're it. Sounds like you've been hard at work!
And the book you are reading, the one about eating as a form of togetherness and such, sounds fascinating! Tell me of your findings, I'd love to hear it! Or, just tell me a few titles of books and I will check them out myself :)
As far as my book goes, its in it's very beginning stages. The characters are all real life people I've met, or encountered in some way or another. In fact, the main character is designed specifically after myself, making it quite simple for me to get "into her head", and find her motivation. I realize a lot of writers do this sort of biography-type writing. But I thought I'd still give it a try and see what I come up with. The story starts out with my main character at a job interview. I'm hoping my story becomes a comical one, from some of the real life happenings I put in it. So, thats a long way to answer your question, but in a nutshell it's a story about real life set to a comical tune..hehe
A note about group projects. In college I couldnt stand them, but now that Im out in the "real world" and in the work force I realize how necessary they are to prepare students to work as a team with different personalities. I suggest you remind your class of this fact every time they grumble about it. But, I'm sure you already do.