Category: Challenge

Elaborations for Creative Thinking in STEM

As I watch the proliferation of digital learning platforms, particularly in STEM education (where there are lots of objective-type problems), I am excited by the increased focus on learning and adaptivity but also a little uneasy. For the most part the motivations to “go digital” are pure – increase access to courses that students need, provide help that is more tailored to each student, give immediate feedback, provide more practice if the student wants it, and let students move at their own pace. My worry is that math and science students aren’t getting anything but highly-structured problems. Every problem that a...

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Better to be Frustrated than Bored

For all of you who have taught students, you know that one of the rewards is seeing the “Aha moments” that students experience. One of the downsides (to instructors) of teaching online is that it is hard to “see” the reward of the “aha” in the same fulfilling way. The reason we should care about the aha moments that students experience is that this kind of moment is tied closely to an emotional feeling. And memories with emotional attachments tend to be stronger (more memorable) than ones with no emotional attachment. But have you ever stopped to think about...

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The Deliberate Practice Experiment

For some inspiration to try a more active approach to learning, I thought I would share a short video from Dr. Carl Wieman, who is a Nobel Laureate, a physicist, and more recently a researcher in learning science. Wieman has designed and run some very elegant experiments to demonstrate the effects of active learning techniques. Consider this one: What happens if you run two classes for a week with the same learning objectives, the same time in class, and the same assessment. Prior to the experiment, you take care to ensure that the student makeup and performance is very similar...

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Learning Math is Not a Spectator Sport

In November, I gave the keynote at the American Mathematical Association of Two-Year Colleges (AMATYC) Conference in Denver. I have given versions of this talk that are not specific for mathematics, but I don’t have recordings of those. I promise that the math in this talk is not inaccessible and is used more for examples than a framework for the talk. In other words, don’t let the word “math” scare you away. The alternate version of the talk is “Learning is Not a Spectator Sport.” The first half of the video is the awards ceremony, so I’ve directed the...

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