You are on page 1of 4

AndrewLerario HTH200PITPFinalProduct Background

Fall2011

With each year, I always have a difficult time convincing all of my students that they are capable of doing well in science. Within each class, there are students that fit into three main categories some thatnaturallyexcelinlogicalmathematicalthinking,somethatstruggleyetmanage,andsomethatfeel completely overwhelmed and have a tendency to detach from activities. In the past I have emphasized to the students that much of what they will learn will be new to all of them, and to expect that some of the material will be demanding. This is a generalized statement, and does not, in itself, account for the challengesinsupportingallofthelearnersintheclass.Theyallbeginwithdifferentskillsetsthatenable them to access the material at varying levels, and my teaching style connects to each individual differently. I make efforts to include activities that support different learners, but there are still discrepancies between how often and to what extent varying activities are implemented. I am determined to develop a more comprehensive approach to teaching chemistry content that includes multipleavenuesfordifferentlearnerstoaccess,participate,andcontribute. With regard to learning styles and abilities, the class of students this year has been the most diverse when compared to previous years I have taught, and the challenge to effectively connect with each individual has become very apparent. My teaching partner and I have discussed this predicament to great lengths and have decided that a multifaceted approach would be necessary to more effectively address the issue. Together we have reinforced the implementation of strategies to foster an educational environment, including the establishment of norms and behavioral/work expectations. Weve also noticed that once a student detaches from the curriculum, the tendency to become disruptive increases, so it has become our focus to keep the students engaged by increasing the accessibility to the content within each of our classrooms. The following passages detail my individual efforts to develop multiple teaching strategies that allow for students to better connect and maintain focus. Process Inattemptingtoaddressthisissue,IidentifiedthemaininstructionalapproachesthatIimplementinmy curriculum and isolated the areas that indicated need for improvement or augmentation. I utilized student feedback as well as class performance to determine which activities generated student success andinwhatwaysvaryinglearnerswererespondingtothem. I have classroom discussions at times to cover new concepts and move forward with our understanding of chemistry. I have found that direct lecturing has a considerable amount of shortcomings in reaching allofthestudents. Ingatheringfeedbackfromthe class,itbecameapparent thattheareasthatcaused them to struggle was the pace of information being distributed, the ability to take notes and synthesize the information, and the lack of opportunities to apply the content. In response, I have made efforts to increase dialogue, peer support, and handson application. I began by covering each table in my class withwhiteboardmaterial,andprovidingdryerasemarkersforthestudents.AsIcovertopics,Iprovide

prompts for the students to illustrate concepts on the tables and form discussion groups among themselves. Meanwhile, I roam about the room, travelling from table to table to help clarify any ambiguities or participate in the discussions already underway. This allows me to assess individual learningandgaugetherelativeleveloftheentireclassunderstandingwithgreatercapability. Another area of my class that I have attempted to address is the ALEKS program. In my curriculum, this programactsasasupplementtowhatwearelearning,andservestobuildfundamentalskillsinadirect application approach. The program is designed to be studentcentric by allowing each individual to progress according to their current understanding. Although there is an increase in the level of personalization, there is a discrepancy amongst the students in their ability to utilize the program for learning. In reviewing the metrics provided by the program, I have found that this discrepancy is not necessarily related to a students aptitude or overall performance in the class. Below is a graph that illustratestheaveragetimestudentsspendoneachprobleminrelationtotheiroverallprogress.

MinutesperTopicvs.CourseCompletion
45 40 timespentpertopic(min.) 35 30 25 20 15 10 5 0 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 percentageofcoursecompleted

The premise is that if the program is personalized, then the students should be able to access and learn at a relatively similar rate. However, according to the data presented in the graph, it is evident that there are great differences in the average time it takes for students to complete a topic, regardless of their aptitude. This suggests a minimal relationship between a students skill level and his/her accessibility to the program. A reasonable explanation is that the programs format and delivery method is limited in its ability to support different learners, and an appropriate way to address this shortcomingwouldbetodevelopadditionalresourcesthatconnecttomorelearningstyles. Ive attempted to address this issue in a variety of approaches. I first allocated more time in class to workontheprogram,allowingme tobetterassesstheworkhabitsandchallengesassociatedwitheach individual.Ialsopairedstudentsinwithsimilarlevelsofprogresssothattheycouldutilizeinterpersonal

skills to assist each other. In addition, I began detailing one studentchosen problem each day as an icebreaker in the beginning of class, allowing for questions and further clarification. To increase the resources for the students, I have begun to create instructional videos with animations to expand on what is offered as an explanation in the program. This is something that both my students and I are workingon,andwehopetodevelopadatabaseofthesevideostobeavailableforadditionalandfuture support. DiscussionResults For the table discussion groups and illustration of the concepts, the students enjoyed having the opportunity to work together to develop their understandings and create imagery to supplement the ideas. They also appreciated other students notes next to the imagery that could be used to aid in deciphering confusing language. Below are two examples of tables from a discussion about the formation of ionic compounds, a topic that has been difficult in previous years for all of my students to grasp quickly. I usually spend a few days reiterating and reinforcing concepts to reach a point where most students can effectively demonstrate satisfactory understanding. The two pictures shown were createdon thefirstdayofthediscussion,andeachstudentatbothtableswascapableofexplaining the illustrations.

ALEKSResults There has been an increase in the amount of topics being completed in the ALEKS program, but I feel that it would be premature to conclude that what was done has answered the issue of inequity when it comes to different types of learners. Student feedback has been positive, especially towards having topics covered in class. They also appreciated having the opportunity to ask me about something that theyarefindingchallenging,andhavingitaddressed.Inaddition,studentswhohaveyettoencountera particular topic that is covered in class find the initial exposure useful when they eventually reach it in theprogram. Some aspects of what I was trying to accomplish were not predicted, yet have produced interesting results. There has been an increase in the level of resourcefulness and time management skills with many of the students with regard to working in ALEKS. As a result of pairing students at similar ability

levels, some have learned to use class more productively, and have been proactive about seeking each others assistance during free time. I have also noticed that students, to an increasing extent, have attempted to work on topics earlier in the week and come to class with clarifying questions on how to proceed. Conclusion In all, I am aware that inequity issues have not been solved, although they have been improved upon. I have been able to recognize better connectivity with different learners within these two areas of my teaching, but also understand that I may be viewing the results through a selfsatisfying lens. I am anxioustoseetheresultsofstudentperformanceoveralongertimeframeasIcontinuetogatherwork and feedback from students. In addition, I should also analyze other areas of my curriculum and try to determinewhatmightbedonetoincreaseaccessibilitytovaryinglearningstyles.