Most mathematics courses and tutoring sessions are taught the wrong way. Teachers stand at the front of the classroom lecturing. Tutors tell their students exactly how to solve problems.
This is old and outdated and simply doesn’t work.
But there is a new proven method to learn mathematics. It’s called “active learning.” Active math education revolves around the core idea of engagement. Students learn math when they are active and engaged in the activity.
Picture this: a teacher standing at the front of the room, but instead of lecturing, they are asking questions. They are encouraging the students to talk. Students sit, 4 at a table, discussing mathematics amongst themselves. The teacher is walking around the room and from time-to-time engaging in these conversations as well.
THAT is how students learn mathematics. There is a lot of research to back this up.
This is how we conduct our tutoring sessions. Instead of simply doing the work for our clients—or teaching them the basic of factoring, for example. We ask them to teach US. We ask them, “So what does factoring mean? Why do we use factoring? How would you explain factoring to your younger brother?”
These types of questions get the students thinking and prepared to discuss mathematics. This is important because a vast and growing body of research show that students learn mathematics and science when they hear themselves verbalize their mathematical thinking. So that’s what we do.
We are after long-term results with our clients. We don’t just want our students to earn A’s. We want them to MASTER the material. We want them to truly understand what they are learning. We want this to be an investment that pays dividends for your family.
We believe that when students learn topics actively, they are more likely to retain the information over the long-term. This is because they are thinking critically about the information rather than simply passively listening to it. And there is certainly evidence to back up our beliefs. The evidence shows that not only does active learning improve learning retention, it also has side benefits like decreasing unwanted disruptive classroom behaviors & increased cooperation amongst students.
Furthermore, active learning appears to be underrated and under-appreciated. This Harvard Gazette article discusses how students learn more in active learning classrooms than they think they did. They don’t fully appreciate just how much they are learning. The article also discusses how decades of research have shown that active techniques outperform all other types of instruction.
This is really interesting! It shows that BOTH students and professors tend to prefer lectures. Both tend to believe that this traditional way of learning is best. But the research and data proves otherwise. The research shows that students learn mathematics best when they are discussing it!
Learning is actually very hard work.
And I think that people prefer lectures because they are easy. It’s so easy to attend a lecture—to just sit back and passively absorb information. Students can “check-out” during lectures. We see this happen all the time. Students are on their phone. Students are dozing-off. Students aren’t paying attention. These sort of “check-out” behaviors are simply not possible in an active-learning environment. Imagine trying to doze off when a professor is calling your name and asking you to discuss your ideas about rate of change, of some other math topic. Students must be present and engaged in these settings.
The Harvard Gazette article discusses how great lecturers can make students feel as if they are learning a great deal, when they actually aren’t! The same goes with great tutors! Some “all-star” tutors—who families and students love—actually aren’t even helping that much!
I find this so fascinating! The fact that our perception of how much we are learning is different from the reality.
This is why we simply must follow the data.
And all of the data points to the fact that students learn best when they are discussing mathematics.