Monday, March 4, 2013

First Post

In India, we were taught fundamental math principles thru traditional lectures. The professor explained equations while writing them on the board, his back to the class, as we took notes in silence. After the lecture, we did the assigned homework, memorized formulas, and returned to class for the next day’s lesson. My fellow students and I either “got it” or didn’t “get it;” if we had misconceptions, they were ours to discover and work out before an examination.
Later, when I began to teach, I noticed that I subconsciously followed the same traditional teaching method, but deep inside I knew and cared that some of my students were not getting it. By the time I came to LaGuardia, I had already begun a practice of questioning and revising my teaching methods to emphasize a more interactive, student-centered development of conceptual knowledge.
As an educator I drew upon Bloom’s theory of learning to the classroom. I aligned the first four levels of Bloom’s taxonomy – knowledge, comprehension, application, and analysis – with concept questions. I believe that concept questions replace memorization of definitions and formulas and prompt self-assessment and critical understanding. Although concept-based questioning techniques consume a significant amount of instructor time in both their initial preparation and periodic improvement, I found that these lessons consumed less class time than lectures.
I would like to use tools (such as Google Groups) that will connect my regular MAT120 section with my Hybrid section. My goal is to facilitate discussion of certain topics and learn how students perform on quiz/test following the discussion. 


  1. Hi Sree,

    Your comments about conceptual questions remind me of the work of Eric Mazur. His work is really compelling to me, because he is a physicist with a deep interest in pedagogy. He uses this format called "concepttest" in his lectures that asks students to choose an answer to a concept based question, and then explain to others why their answer is correct. Here's a link to his work group.

    I think the same idea could work online, where students explain the steps they take to solve problems. Does that seem possible to you?

  2. Hello Sree, I also share your experience when learning maths and I find it very common at so many levels and disciplines, and from her post I would like to explore her use of Bloom's taxonomy in the classroom.

    There is also a similar approach to learn mathematical concepts by experience developed by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching called Quantway (for math basic skills) and Statway (for elementary statistics). This approach has been applied at some colleges around US. We will have some pilot sections at LaGuardia next Fall!

  3. Hi Sree,

    I had a very similar educational experience in the Philippines. The teaching style was very much in the "banking," "knowledge-depositing," sink-or-swim mode. I think our earliest classroom experiences inevitably inflect our own pedagogy, and I think it's admirable (and extremely beneficial to your students) that you've sought to find your own way. Now that I've been teaching for over ten years (!), I continue to struggle to balance my own reflexive tendency to perform as the "sage on the stage" with more "student-centered" approaches. There are appropriate times for both methods, and I hope that I'm slowly improving in sensing which is called for at any given moment.