Saturday, October 29, 2011

Webinar Today: The GoodQuestions Project, Using Qustions that Deepen Understanding

I ended yesterday's post with this teaser:
If you're interested in thinking about good questions for this vote-and-discuss type of interaction, join us at the free webinar I'll be hosting tomorrow. I'll be interviewing Maria Terrell, founder of the Good Questions Project, as part of the MathFuture webinar series. It starts at 11am Pacific time / 2pm Eastern time. 
 But I neglected to tell you how to join us. Here are Maria Droujkova's instructions:

How to join

  • Follow this link at the time of the event:
  • Saturday, October 29th 2011 we will meet online at 11am Pacific, 2pm Eastern time. WorldClock for your time zone.
  • Click "OK" and "Accept" several times as your browser installs the software. When you see Session Log-In, enter your name and click the "Login" button
  • If this is your first time, come a few minutes earlier to check out the technology. The room opens half an hour before the event.


The recording will be at

About Good Questions

The GoodQuestions project seeks to improve calculus instruction by adapting two methods developed in physics instruction — ConcepTests and Just-in-Time-Teaching. GoodQuestions is a pedagogical strategy that aims to raise the visibility of the key concepts and to promote a more active learning environment. The essence of the approach is to develop questions that
  • stimulate students’ interest and curiosity in mathematics;
  • help students monitor their understanding;
  • offer students frequent opportunities to make conjectures and argue about their validity;
  • reflect the role of student prior knowledge and misconceptions in building conceptual understanding;
  • provide instructors with frequent formative assessments of what their student are learning;
  • support instructors efforts to foster an active learning environment.

Can you raise the visibility of key calculus concepts, promote a more active learning environment, support young instructors in their professional development in their early formative teaching experiences, and improve student learning? We think the answer is yes, if you ask students Good Questions and encourage them to refine their thinking with their peers. What makes a question good? Imagine a classroom where the instructor pauses every fifteen minutes or so to ask a highly conceptual multiple choice or True-False question. For example True or False: You were once exactly π feet tall. Students think about the question independently and register their vote. As the instructor uses that feedback to start to assess the state of the class’s understanding, students are encouraged to discuss their answers with someone sitting near by, preferably a student who is thinking about the problem differently. As the room erupts with inquires of “what did you think? ” and “why did you think that?”, and with replies of “well I’m not sure, but I think...”, the instructor listens in on conversations. Students share their reasoning, argue its validity, and work together as they think more deeply about what the question means.

Event Host

MariaSheaTerrell.jpgMaria Shea Terrell writes:
My recent interests in geometry have included tensegrities and the history of geometrical optics and linear perspective. I am collaborating with a group of faculty and graduate students in an effort to improve undergraduate mathematics instruction through a project we call GoodQuestions. The project is developing materials to help instructors engage students in meaningful discussions about key concepts in calculus. At a recent MER (Mathematicians in Education Reform) workshop I presented a paper about my recent experience in the project.

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