Proposal Title

Facilitated Group Problem-Solving Sessions in First-year Calculus

Session Type

Poster

Start Date

6-7-2011 5:30 PM

Keywords

problem-solving, mathematics

Primary Threads

Teaching and Learning Science

Abstract

The Calculus Workshop Program offered at UBC provides an activity where students in a first calculus course meet once a week outside of lecture time to work on provided math problems in small groups, facilitated by TAs. This may sound simple enough, but in fact the design and delivery of the program is a complex process.

Started in 2002 as a pilot project in one course section, the program grew each year and was extended to all sections and became a mandatory activity replacing one hour of lecture time concurrently in two different courses in 2008, involving more than 900 students and a team of 25 TAs each year. To make sure the program was delivered effectively across all course sections, we undertook a two-year study whose goals were to identify possible pitfalls, implement changes, and measure their effects on student attitudes and learning. The study was performed by an research associate (not an instructor) observer who reviewed workshop materials, interviewed course instructors, and observed students' work and their interaction with TAs during the workshops. Students and TAs were also surveyed repeatedly, and data on student performance were analysed.

An expanded administrative structure and TA training program, more prominent learning goals, the addition of a quiz activity as well as tighter course co-ordination in general have all combined to improve student attitudes of the workshops and produce a higher correlation of student performance in the workshops and their grades in the other components of the course.

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Jul 6th, 5:30 PM

Facilitated Group Problem-Solving Sessions in First-year Calculus

The Calculus Workshop Program offered at UBC provides an activity where students in a first calculus course meet once a week outside of lecture time to work on provided math problems in small groups, facilitated by TAs. This may sound simple enough, but in fact the design and delivery of the program is a complex process.

Started in 2002 as a pilot project in one course section, the program grew each year and was extended to all sections and became a mandatory activity replacing one hour of lecture time concurrently in two different courses in 2008, involving more than 900 students and a team of 25 TAs each year. To make sure the program was delivered effectively across all course sections, we undertook a two-year study whose goals were to identify possible pitfalls, implement changes, and measure their effects on student attitudes and learning. The study was performed by an research associate (not an instructor) observer who reviewed workshop materials, interviewed course instructors, and observed students' work and their interaction with TAs during the workshops. Students and TAs were also surveyed repeatedly, and data on student performance were analysed.

An expanded administrative structure and TA training program, more prominent learning goals, the addition of a quiz activity as well as tighter course co-ordination in general have all combined to improve student attitudes of the workshops and produce a higher correlation of student performance in the workshops and their grades in the other components of the course.