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helping students engage with maths & physics

OK, not biology :-) But what follows could equally well apply to teaching problem-solving in any of the sciences.

A colleague of mine (thanks, Jonathan!) sent me through the link to a talk by Dan Meyer, on teaching maths & physics. Dan's talking about how to engage students with the subjects he teaches; how to put them on a level playing field - where they can all understand what a question's about; how to get them talking about the question in a way that guides them to understanding how to get at the answer in a meaningful way. His aim: for all his students to become 'patient problem-solvers'. His hope: for textbook authors to develop resources that support this aim instead of obfuscating it. Enjoy.

PS while the lecture's aimed at high-school teachers, I would argue that university lecturers teaching in maths & physics should also be watching it. After all, they teach the teachers :-)

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The way to engage students is this. First, our goal as teachers is to explain the basic principles of the subject. To accomplish this, we have to understand how students think, and build from there using the principles and logic. We lose engagement when we forget the stress on basic principles. See "Teaching and Helping Students Think and Do Better" on amazon.

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