Monday, September 26, 2011

Collaborative Inquiry in Science, Math, and Technology

Adams, D., Hamm M. (1998). Collaborative Inquiry in Science, Math, and Technology. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

I was drawn to this book initially because in its description the author writes that students should be encouraged to be critical and creative thinkers through making meaningful connections to the natural world.

This summary pertains to a chapter entitled “Teaching Mathematics: Engaging Students in Mathematical Inquiry.” What I found interesting about this chapter is its overview of the evolution of teaching and learning especially in mathematics. I have always felt that there seems to be so many conflicting perspectives on math instruction and by reviewing this chapter I was able to identify the origins of some of these beliefs. Additionally identifying the cycles of change provided me with an insight to how cyclical education philosophies have been.

Relevant Quotes/Concepts:
- “At the beginning of the twentieth century, E. L. Thorndike introduced the stimulus-response theory called connectionism. This approach viewed learning as building strong connections, so rote learning was emphasized." (71).

- “Until about 1920 it was thought children learned best by training the mind much like athletes build up the strength of their muscles” (71).

- As a reaction to the Soviet Union's advances in space exploration United States began to question its competency in math and science. New math was launched in the late 1950s. "This new math dealt with content, such as the structure of mathematics, set theory, and number operations and their inverses. Scientists and mathematicians became the primary contributors to the developing mathematics programs for the elementary school." Lack of teacher training combined with misconceptions that the public as well as many teachers had about the program resulted in many of established goals of the program not being met (72).

- As the flaws in the new math program became apparent there was another swing in the curriculum in the 1970s. "Rather then build on what had worked in the past while eliminating what hadn't, as other professionals do, renewed emphasis was placed on the skills needed for everyday survival." (72)

- "In the 1980s, educators realized that the developmental level of children was a determining factor in teaching and deciding the sequence of the curriculum. Attention was focused on the evidence that students construct their own understanding based on their experiences." This movement is based on the educational theory of constructivism. Although standards were established it didn't require standardization but rather gave teachers the ability to become pedagogical decision makers. (72)

Text Sources:
Adams, D., Hamm M. (1989). Media and Literacy. Springfield IL, NH: Charles Thomas.

Adams, D., H. Carlson, and Hamm A. (1990). Cooperative Learning and Educational Media. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Publications.

1 comment:

Stacey Caillier said...

This sounds fascinating! I love the quotes you pulled out. I'd love to hear more about your analysis of the chapter - why did these particular quotes stand out to you? How do the ideas here connect to your own practice, and what questions does it bring up for you?

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