Saturday, January 24, 2009

Interactive science in college classrooms revisited

One of the concerns I expressed about MIT's new interactive science classes, namely about students being forced to work in groups, is one of many reasons why, as it turns out, MIT students hate these classes.

In her post on kitchentablemath, Allison cites the MIT newspaper:

Most students do not bother to hide their dislike for TEAL. Their list of grievances is long and oft-repeated: the physical set-up of small tables makes it difficult to see the lecturer, the numerous homework assignments are tedious, the in-class problems are gone over too quickly, the students strong in physics end up doing all the work, and so on.
Allison also cites one of the MIT students who commented on the New York Times story:
This is all geared towards collaborative learning, which is nice in theory, but what happened in my experience is that the people at the table who knew what they're doing would work through the problem, and I would be left in the dark in terms of where this equation came from and what that one means. The idea was to learn from eachother, except that I feel that we do plenty of this while working on p(roblem)-sets. Personally, I'd like classtime to be geared more towards learning from the teacher.
According to additional comments at the New York Times, class time is 5 hours a week, and attendance is mandatory.

One result: grades, just like in too many grade schools, favor the social students over those whose distaste for working in groups deters them from coming to class.

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