Week 2: Blog Posts/Tweets

http://www.nctm.org/Publications/Mathematics-Teacher/Blog/Focus-on-Learning,-Not-Grades/#.VrSzkAnPPfo.twitter

This week, I saw a few articles I really liked, but I want to share this one because I have seen and heard a lot of things related to grades lately. Also, in my experience, grades have been detrimental to learning. Personally, I just want to learn. I want to know everything. Realistically, that is not really possible, but I like learning for the purpose of learning. The first question in any class seems to be, “when is the test?”. When the test day nears, the question becomes, “what is on the test?”. Once answered, students are scrambling to cram only the essential test material into their brains.

In essence, they are not learning. They are studying those few problems only to forget them a day after the test. This is temporary knowledge.

Last semester, I had this really great professor for my course in Logic. He told us we would have three tests. He also told us that we didn’t need to worry about them. Not once did he discourage us. From week 2, there were help sessions. We did problems every class. Not only that, we had discussions on other topics related to philosophy and the breakthroughs that are occurring within the field, especially in relation to mathematics and physics. I enjoyed going to every class. Every topic built on the last. Memorizing the rules were not required, but we did them so often that they became second nature. On my own time, I would do the homework problems and familiarize myself with the operators. If I was unsure, I would ask the professor and he was always glad to answer the question. In a class with over 30 males and 3 females, I felt comfortable to answer questions and go to the board to answer my own question sometimes. (He would help if I got stuck.) Here’s the thing, the homework was not graded. When it came time for the test, I didn’t feel pressured. I knew everything I needed to know. He did not place emphasis on the test. He cared more about us learning and thinking for ourselves. He created the perfect environment for that, and I learned so much. Also, if you asked me to solve questions now, I could probably do them without much of a problem.

The whole point in what I’m trying to say is that grades should not be the first priority. Learning should be the most important part. Creating an environment in which learning can take place is very important. Practicing and making students want to practice on their own time might help facilitate learning. We should not emphasize grades as much as we do. I saw a post that gave mathematicians grades, and I couldn’t help but laugh. (I’ll find it and post the link below.) We need assessments, but not at the expense of grades and learning. Students will take the initiative if encouragement is thrown their way. I am willing to experiment and see how not placing grades on my students’ quizzes helps or hinders them.

Report Cards for Famous Mathematicians

I was also able to have a conversation over Twitter with another person that I re-tweeted, and I shared the article I read with him because it was related to what he posted. He tweeted the article out to his followers.

That’s about all for this week!

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