The brain learns what it practices - Carl Wieman

Description and purpose:

  • Applications represent course learning goals and are most similar to problems featured on exams. They scaffold student learning of new skills or methods and promote problem solving and critical thinking.

  • We use a workbook to provide space for students to struggle, attempt, err, and fix their work. Students develop and record exemplar responses to prepare for exams and for major classes requiring research methods or data analysis.

Implementation: Students work activities in teams (face to face) or on their own but are free to collaborate with peers virtually (online). Some activities are longer than others; clarify which problems are optional.

  • Assign the readiness sequence prior to assigning application activities.

  • Encourage productive struggle before providing solutions. If you lecture through the activity, they miss this critical thinking step.

    • In a face to face class, wander and observe how students are progressing.

    • In a remote synchronous session, use a combination of breakout rooms and class discussion to guide students.

    • In an online class, provide a forum for student collaboration. We use padlet, to which students can easily upload photos of their work to show others. An LMS discussion board can be used if students can type math notation.

    • In all formats, allow students time to think and attempt answers before intervening with hints to prevent frustration, and make sure they have time to try again.

  • Do not grade (most of) the workbook.

    • Face to face: students should be free to write their work and err without judgment as they learn; instructor provides verbal feedback based on seeing their progress in class.

    • Remote or online: consider asking students to scan and submit a page(s) from the workbook so you can provide written feedback.

  • Make exemplar solutions available before students engage in further practice or new applications.

    • In a face to face class, show answers before the class ends. For online classes make the synchronous workbook session video available for viewing or post a partial key.