Saturday, August 26, 2006

The most useful course I took at university

One frustration I had with my graduate diploma of education was the fact that we were expected to read a lot of research papers, without being provided with any relevant training. We did not know enough about research methodologies to be able to read the papers critically.

When I went back to uni to do an MEd, I took a course specifically dedicated to reading Maths Ed. research. I was lucky that the course ran with only one enrollment - mine! The university felt guilty for not promoting the course well enough and let the lecturer go ahead and run it. Later on, a DEd student joined in and a Phd student was attending at the lecturer's request.

This was by far the most practical course I have taken in education. Each week we looked at a different methodology - quantitative, case study, ethnography etc...- and each of us gave a report on a relevant paper. What made the course immediately applicable to my teaching practice was the fact that the lecturer allowed us to follow our own interest for the major assignments:
  1. A literature review on the topic of our choice.
  2. A paper aimed at teachers on the same topic.
In my case, I chose introductory algebra. Out of the reading I did, I got a paper published in a teacher's journal and introduced a unit of work for the year 7 classes at my school.

Much academic research happens in the classroom and with the help of teachers. Researchers often interview children to find out the way they think about certain things. All this knowledge is very useful to a teacher. It is not a case of academics telling teachers how to do their job, it is a case of them providing teachers with information which they are best equipped to make use of in their own classrooms.

Unfortunately, the lecturer recently informed me that the faculty has pulled the plug on the course. I still think that teacher education should always include a course on reading research.

Elias.

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1 comments:

tb

said...

mmmm...any tips or advice are most welcome, Elias...it would be good if you shared your knowledge...I would like to share my knowledge, but alas, i am out of knowledge atm...:(

BUT may i say this....i did a course in Life Coaching in a past life...AND recently coaching my students in Football has made me realise this....

When i take on a "Coaching" rather than "Teaching" role, my "naughty" students seem to respond.

With my Year 10's I have used words like, "Let's get through this together", "Maths is NOT easy, but it's a huge mental challenge", and "I want to get you through this" and "Let's take Maths seriously".
My most difficult students seem to be responding positively. (there is still much work to do though)

Hmmm...a "Coach" rather than a "Teacher"?

What do you think, O wise ones?