(Submitted as an essay in the MOOC – “History and Future of (Mostly) Higher Education” on Coursera)

For the first several years teaching in the undergraduate mathematics classroom, I was convinced that the better my lecture, the better the learning that took place in my Math classes. I was extremely enthusiastic of my presentation of factoring polynomial or row-reducing large matrices, and almost any other math topic you can conceive. I worked hard to provide visually stimulating examples and always received high marks on my student evaluations. And yet, there was no significant difference between those topics in which I was well-prepared and those topics that had less-than-exceptional presentations. Eventually I had to admit and, yes, unlearn that there was any significant connection between my lecture style and my student’s mastery of the concepts. In its place, I learned that a reasonably well presented topic coupled with a great deal of hands-on group work, facilitated by peer instruction/collaboration DID make a significant impact on their demonstrated mastery. Continue reading Peer Instruction (almost) always trumps the “Great Math Performer” →