A kind of worked examples for large classrooms
I passed on to the MediaComp-Teach list something I’m trying to do in my class this semester. I had several suggestions to share it with others. It’s based on worked examples and peer instruction.
I’m teaching Python MediaComp, first time in 8 years on campus. We have just shy of 300 students, and I have 155 in my lecture. While I’m a big fan of worked examples, the way I’ve used them in small classes of 30-40 won’t work with 155.
Here’s what I’m doing this semester. Every Thursday, I distribute a PDF with a bunch of code in sets, like this:
The students are getting 12-20 little programs every Thursday. Most students type them ALL in before lecture Friday morning at 10 am.
Then on Friday, I put up PI-like questions like this:
Students are required to work on these in groups. I walk around the lecture hall and insist that nobody sit alone. I get lots of questions in the five minutes when everybody’s working away.
We don’t have clickers, but I’ve given every student four colored index cards. When I call for votes, everybody holds up the right colored card.
Here’s the interesting part — they TALK about the programs. Here’s a question in Piazza with a student’s answer:
The other instructor in the class is also using these, and he says that the students are using them after the Friday lecture as examples to study from and to use in building homework. I’ve had lots of comments about these from students, in office hours and via email. They find them valuable to study.
My worked examples aren’t giving them much process. I am getting them to look at lots of programs, type them in, get them running, and think about them. I’m pretty excited about it. Given that I haven’t been in this class in the last 8 years, the class isn’t really “mine” anymore. I’m trying to be sensitive to how much I change about a huge machine (14 TA’s, two instructors…) that I’m only visiting in. But everyone seems into this, and it’s fitting in pretty easily.
I have been uploading all of the PDF’s, PPTs, and PY’s at http://home.cc.gatech.edu/mediaComp/95, if you’re interested. (There are some weeks missing because Atlanta actually had some Winter this year.)