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Re: [Phys-L] how much guidance is appropriate

I changed the Subject: line because the topic has drifted.

On 08/31/2018 12:23 PM, Anthony Lapinski wrote:

The issue wasn't getting the exact angle. It was more about rotating bricks
to get higher elevations. They were baffled. They did not think about
rotating bricks wit the longest sides vertically.

And I won't even go into them not knowing how to read a protractor on a
thick board to get the angle...

And it's even worse than that, because *some* of them know,
while others don't. So if your teaching is aimed at the
middle, some will be bored silly, while others will be lost.

As for the more general question of how much guidance is
appropriate, I find much of the pedagogical literature to
be grossly unscientific. One of the major problems is
uncontrolled variables ... hugely significant uncontrolled

Eric Mazur finds that peer instruction works well at Harvard.
That's fine, PROVIDED you *and your peers* managed to get
into Harvard. Not exactly a representative sample.

In any case, the "amount of guidance" is a moving target.
We expect students to be mostly clueless at the beginning
of the course, and more-or-less competent at the end. So
any cut-and-dried answer about the "amount of guidance" is
guaranteed to be wrong.

What is needed is a multi-step program that provides
progressively less hand-holding and progressively more
responsibility and independence. In a small class you
can figure out who needs help and who doesn't at any
given moment. In a big class it's a "challenge" (to put
it politely).

As always, motivation is a big factor. That's never been
a problem for me personally; for as long as I can remember
I've enjoyed figuring things out, and have been rewarded for
it. But the rewards didn't come from primary or secondary
school. What's the reward for being the first one to figure
out that the brick can be re-oriented? Do I get to go home
early? No. Do I get a better grade? Probably not, because
as soon as I re-orient the brick everybody else in the room
will follow suit.

In the real world (including in the research lab) I've seen
plenty of highly successful teams, where everybody involved
realizes that they benefit from being part of the team. Very
often they are /not/ peers, as for example a baseball team:
The pitcher can't do the catcher's job, and the catcher can't
do the shortstop's job, but they all need each other.

In the classroom, setting up teams /that actually make sense/
is a "challenge" (to put it politely).