Proposal Title

Oral Reviews:Improved Understanding and Retention in STEM Majors

Session Type

Presentation

Start Date

6-7-2011 5:30 PM

Keywords

mathematics, formative assessment, retention

Primary Threads

Teaching and Learning Science

Abstract

A general theme of the Gathering Storm reports is that the U.S. urgently needs to increase the number of U.S. students that graduate with degrees in STEM majors. Large numbers of aspiring STEM students in colleges across the U.S. never become STEM majors because they fail the mathematics courses required for STEM majors. The University of Colorado’s Applied Mathematics Department has developed a tool box of interventions to help students overcome this barrier. Too often students have learned to pattern match without any real understanding of “why” or “how” procedures work. Since 2003 we have been conducting ungraded, voluntary oral reviews, and data analysis has shown statistically significant improvement in the understanding, grades, and retention of students participating in these orals. A trained facilitator meets with five students in a room where students are asked scripted conceptual questions. Students utilize the boards to draw representations and explain concepts. Orals give students the opportunity to negotiate meaning with their facilitator and peers as they struggle with misconceptions and fragile understandings. For example, students would not be asked how to take a derivative, but might be asked “suppose the derivative of f(x) never exceeds 7, what is the most that function could increase on the interval [-3,2)”. An oral review is formative assessment that provides insight into student thinking. Facilitators often have “ah-ha” moments when they discover the thinking behind students’ misconceptions and uncover deficits in students’ foundational knowledge. We propose to show compelling data to support the value of oral reviews.

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Jul 6th, 5:30 PM

Oral Reviews:Improved Understanding and Retention in STEM Majors

A general theme of the Gathering Storm reports is that the U.S. urgently needs to increase the number of U.S. students that graduate with degrees in STEM majors. Large numbers of aspiring STEM students in colleges across the U.S. never become STEM majors because they fail the mathematics courses required for STEM majors. The University of Colorado’s Applied Mathematics Department has developed a tool box of interventions to help students overcome this barrier. Too often students have learned to pattern match without any real understanding of “why” or “how” procedures work. Since 2003 we have been conducting ungraded, voluntary oral reviews, and data analysis has shown statistically significant improvement in the understanding, grades, and retention of students participating in these orals. A trained facilitator meets with five students in a room where students are asked scripted conceptual questions. Students utilize the boards to draw representations and explain concepts. Orals give students the opportunity to negotiate meaning with their facilitator and peers as they struggle with misconceptions and fragile understandings. For example, students would not be asked how to take a derivative, but might be asked “suppose the derivative of f(x) never exceeds 7, what is the most that function could increase on the interval [-3,2)”. An oral review is formative assessment that provides insight into student thinking. Facilitators often have “ah-ha” moments when they discover the thinking behind students’ misconceptions and uncover deficits in students’ foundational knowledge. We propose to show compelling data to support the value of oral reviews.