Making it Matter: Connecting Theory to Reality in Economics

by Jonathan Schellenberg, Economics Teaching Effectiveness Award Essay, 2018 In the social sciences, we seek to understand all types of human behaviors. Economics, my sub- discipline, formalizes these actions with mathematical models, both to reduce the complexity of the world and to highlight the rules that we believe govern human Continue Reading >>

Improving Board Work with Colors

by Yi-Chuan Lu, Physics Teaching Effectiveness Award Essay, 2016 Physics is a subject that describes nature by using precise mathematical language. When we teach physics, it is inevitable to prove equations in addition to explaining the physical phenomena, but it is also the time when students get frustrated. For example, Continue Reading >>

‘Is This Right?’ Building Confidence in Scientific Reasoning

by Francesca Fornasini, Astronomy
I realized that they had little or no confidence in their answers and that they did not have any strategies for assessing the reasonableness of their solutions. Therefore, I tried to incorporate into my discussion sections a variety of strategies to help my students test the reasonableness of their answers.

Bringing Astronomy Down to Earth: A Teaching Strategy That Helps Develop Intuition

by Aaron Lee, Astronomy
I found that students were far too trusting of their calculators, possibly due to a fear of math, and they blindly accepted whatever the calculator returned. My solution…was to include weekly activities that taught students how to relate new concepts to familiar experiences to develop their intuition about the subject matter.

The Meaning Behind the Symbols

by Aubrey Clayton, Mathematics
In addition to learning about the need for a precise definition when making an argument, the class learned to make sense of the symbols in the book by rephrasing them in their own words. Also, they learned that mathematics actually uses a lot of common sense, even if it is sometimes apparently obscured by notation.

Breaking the Mathematical Language Barrier

by Alexander Diesl, Mathematics
The ability to write mathematical proofs is not a result of genius but rather of an understanding of the language of mathematics. Students think that they lack fundamental understanding when they in fact lack only the ability to translate their intuition into mathematically precise statements.

The Zen of Reductions (How to Understand Computers by Becoming One)

by Ajeet Shankar, Computer Science
I quickly realized that it was imprudent simply to hope that they would develop an intuition about reductions; it had taken me years to nurture my own intuition, after all, and I would be expecting my students to cultivate theirs in a matter of weeks! So I formulated a method for my students that made solving reductions easier.

Kinesthesis in Science: Where Red Rover Meets Quantum Mechanics

by Steve Dawson, Astronomy
Any physical problem, as well as all of the associated formalism, can be rendered not only intelligible but even pleasurable if the student first achieves a gut sense of the physical situation. Put plainly, all of the math in any science class makes sense if the student first has an intuitive mental picture of exactly what is going on.