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

Monday, June 27, 2005

How to make sure that college students don't learn Algebra 

Maybe other people can do this, but I'm finding that a once a week format for Algebra I students is a very bad idea. The students need frequent reinforcement of the ideas that they're learning and having them get 4 hours of class time once a week is not doing the trick.

And I feel like I'm banging my head against a brick wall with this self-directed pre-algebra class. Actually Mondays and Wednesdays aren't too bad because I usually have a small enough number of students self-direct their way into the class that I can actually attend to them.

Here's today's gem: I've started a practice of having the sign in sheet next to me so that as each student comes in, I can ask what they're working on during this class. Today, a student who hasn't been around for about a week or so responds with, "math." Well, what in particular, I ask? Chapter 2. I check my gradebook and see that he failed the chapter 1 test. I point out to him that he has to pass the chapter 1 test and that I never got his chapter 1 homework. He says he left it at home. Along with his book. Then he decides he's going to go ahead and retake the chapter 1 test. He's spent most of the class period on the computer. Yeah, this is a really successful class structure.

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