Friday, December 8, 2006

New Teaching Methods in the Liberal Arts Classroom

Oh yeah, we had a slick talking, peer-study program selling guy blow through our school a few years back. A bunch of us got prepared and redeveloped our course and went into peer-study in a big way. We did the placement tests and followed the program for creating effective peer-study groups and then sold it to the students as if we were selling life insurance on commission.

It was a disaster.

In my case (I teach Chemistry) I had an almost twice as high drop-out rate. What happened over and over again was that the weaker students were forced into intimate contact with motivated, intelligent students. This did not cause them to aspire to a higher standard but in fact caused them to despair. By the time we put out the fires we decided that an important dynamic in our courses was "plausible deniability" for the mediocre to weak students and if they found out too early that learning was hard work they would all just fold up and switch majours to Business.

1 comment:

renan said...

ha ha! ''the power of instruction is seldom of much efficacy except in those happy disposition where it is almost superfluous'' :)

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For a while it was all about research and then it was all about teaching and now it's all about trying to find a balance while teaching at a small liberal arts and science university.