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Re: Back to Basics vs. Hands-On Instruction

I apologize to the innocent. I realize that any response to Hake causes an
immediate avalanche of tiresome and alarmist rhetoric to multiple lists in
return, and hence I resisted responding for some time. However, as he
continues to flood the airwaves with his tirades, one must respond.

Without following Hake in his tedious recants of innumerable details, the
issue boils down to the umbrage he takes with the demand to offer an OPTION
of "hands-on" activities in science teaching not to exceed 25%, which
California has currently under its consideration.

To support that, Hake provides heated rhetoric against a straw man of
DIRECT INSTRUCTION, while John Clements (on one list) and Dewey Dykstra (on
couple) join in his clamor that "hands-on" is "the best."

Well, here are some excerpts of Hake and Clements for a discussion which
took place over a year ago ("The college lecture may be fading") on math-learn:

(Clements) "However even in a large lecture hall it is possible to use
electronic polling methods to make lectures highly interactive. There is
evidence that this method pioneered by Eric Mazur at Harvard can be highly
effective. Incidentally Mazur also requires students to read the text
prior to lectures and gives a short reading quiz at the beginning of each
lecture, so his method is actually a mixture of traditional and active

(Hake) "An important point that is often missed ... is that in the pre/post
testing evidence strongly suggests that the crucial difference that
distinguishes high <g> from low <g> classrooms is NOT between lectures and
non-lectures, but between interactive and non-interactive learning
strategies. Interactive methods can invoke considerable NON-PASSIVE-STUDENT
lecturing e.g. Meltzer & Mannivan (1996), Mazur (1997), Thornton & Sokoloff
(1998), Crouch & Mazur (2001)."

In other words, the issue is NOT "hands-on" activities but rather student
engagement and interaction, a.k.a. "active learning", which California not
only does not limit, but actively encourages. Furthermore, with all of
Hake's interminable list of references, I saw nothing yet which argues that
fully 100% of hands-on is necessary, or that 25% of hands-on is insufficient.

In any case, I suggest Messrs. Hake et al. stop flooding everyone with
political missives misrepresenting the California situation and re-read
their own words.