Saturday, January 28, 2012

Moore is more

Three weeks into the semester, my Moore-method Calc III class has made it through three problem sets (50 problems), treating a substantive review of topics from Calc I and II and five or six sections of the textbook. It's been a few years since I've taught a course in this fashion, so there's been a bit of adjustment as I've gotten back into it.

So far, so good. The students are getting much better at explaining their solutions in front of a large audience (one section has 27 students, and the other 35), and they're becoming more relaxed, visibly. Yesterday's second section was particularly laid back, assiduously focused on finishing their tasks but willing to joke around and have fun in order to set the solvers at ease.

I've been very impressed with students' ability to be wrong in front of each other, and similarly impressed with the audience's willingness to ask questions. They're getting better at asking each other for clarification or elaboration, and not turning to me to ask. I'm letting minor errors slide, perhaps adding a little "does everyone agree?" if the solver's slipped up somewhere. Generally this has been enough to prompt one or two to express disagreement.

How's it helping the students? Hard to say. Several have said they get a lot of the course's design, though one or two have admitted "it's not what I'm used to, and I'm having a hard time adjusting." I've reminded them a couple of times now that in this sort of course they're expected to take on a bit more responsibility than they might in a more traditional course, preparing well and keeping up without my continual exhortation for them to do so.

I'm going to poll them more formally on the course structure at the end of the coming week, after we finish off the fourth set of problems. We'll see where we are.

Meanwhile, if anyone in the class is reading this and would like to comment, please feel free to do so, anonymously if you'd like.

1 comment:

Jack Derbyshire said...

Patrick, I'm loving the structure. It seems very effective, and I feel like I'm getting a lot out of the class. Still, I'll admit that your well-constructed, well-ordered problem sets have just as much to do with my success as the learn-practice-present structure.

I'll be attempting to implement the moore method over the summer when I teach programming.