Vito Prosciutto: Teaching community college math on the road to a PhD.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Syllabus work: Overarching questions: What is the purpose of this problem? 

I was thinking that one of the questions that often gets left unsaid is, "What is the purpose of this problem?" I think that there's generally a bit more purposefulness in higher-level texts than lower level texts, but every question should have some objective. It might be, "practice a skill that was covered in this section" which is pretty typical of a high school textbook math question. I had tried once in the past to have questions whose purpose was to lead students to a discovery, and I think that one of the reasons that I failed was that I failed to make explicit what the point of the question was. I think that I will have to make a point of doing this as a part of how I teach the liberal arts math class in the fall. I also can see it being a useful skill in looking at the problems as I work through my (growing) list of math textbooks to work through this summer.

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