Posts published in August, 2011

College Professors Teach Math In Traditional Ways

  From Gay Clyburn, Carnegie Foundation

David Bressoud writes for the Mathematical Association of America: One of the most personally disturbing pieces of information gleaned from the MAA survey of over 700 calculus instructors was that almost two-thirds agreed with the statement, “Calculus students learn best from lectures, provided they are clear and well-prepared.” Another 20% somewhat disagreed. Only 15% disagreed or strongly disagreed. This belief of most calculus instructors that students learn best from lectures is in direct contradiction to the observation made by Halmos:“A good lecture is usually systematic, complete, precise—and dull; it is a bad teaching instrument.” This common belief is also contradicted by the evidence that we have, the most recent and dramatic of which comes from the Carl Wieman Science Education Initiative (CWSEI) at the University of British Columbia (UBC). The CWSEI study compared lecture format with interactive, clicker-based peer instruction in two large (267 and 271 students, respectively) sections of introductory physics for engineering majors. The results were published in Science. What is most impressive is how well controlled the study was—ensuring that the two classes really were comparable—and how strong the outcome was: The clicker-based peer instruction class performed 2.5 standard deviations above the control group.

Two Useful Reports On Student Financial Aid

Promoting Educational Opportunity: The Pell Grant Program at Community Colleges
This brief examines the historical and programmatic nature of the Pell Grant program and investigates how it has come to form trends over time. Underlying the examination is the use and importance of the program to college students, with a focus on those attending community colleges.

41st Annual Survey Report on State-Sponsored Financial Aid
This report provides data regarding state-funded expenditures for student financial aid and illustrates the extent of efforts made by the states to assist postsecondary students. Information in this report is based on academic year 2009-10 data from the 41st Annual National Association of State Student Grant and Aid Programs (NASSGAP) survey.