Course Design


The course began with an introduction to the learning objectives and the requirements of the course which were communicated by the instructor and also included in the course syllabus. Students were given a long collection of problems which would be active for the first three weeks of the quarter. These problems were drawn from many content areas, encompassed many problem solving approaches and methods and were labeled for degree of difficulty from 1 to 3.

As I planned this course I envisioned multiple sites of student learning:

  1. I anticipated that the need for some mini-lectures on mathematical concepts would emerge as students asked questions about problems which they did not understand because they did not have the necessary resources (mathematical prerequisites).
  2. A second site for learning would be demonstrations of problem solving techniques by the instructor. These would used to illustrate both general approaches (heuristics) and particular problem solving methods.
  3. Yet another place where learning was intended to take place was during whole group discussions.
  4. Perhaps the most important site of learning was the work in collaborative groups during class.
  5. Finally, students worked individually out-of-class on solving problems and writing up solutions.