FirstFR-3-15Banner-700The First Friday Roundtable series will hold its November session on Friday, Nov. 6. These monthly discussion sessions provide an opportunity for all who teach at the University of Delaware to explore teaching, learning and assessment practices and issues.

November’s session offers two options that start at the same time and place, 3:30-5 p.m. in Room 315 of the Harker Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Laboratory. Register.

The first option, “Create teachable moments with the help of student tools,”  will feature three University of Delaware faculty and their diverse strategies to draw students into classroom conversation.

  • Anu Sivaraman, Business Administration
, uses Canvas forums to springboard class discussions.
  • Christopher Knight, Kinesiology and Applied Physiology, challenges students to collaborate and draw their concept of health which is then compared and contrasted to each other’s and industry images.
  • Tara Jo Manal, Physical Therapy, employs clickers in a number of ways to evaluate the understanding of case studies and complex concepts.

In the second option, the leader of the workshop will be Anton Weisstein, Associate Professor of Biology at Truman State University in Missouri and Visiting Scholar at Washington University who has specialized on quantitative reasoning and literacy. He has been developing spreadsheet models with students for over fifteen years and is a principle contributor to the Biological ESTEEM Project (Excel Simulations and Tools for Exploratory, Experiential Mathematics).

This second option will address the question, “How do we learn to help students develop quantitative reasoning outside of mathematics and computer science courses per se?” This session will introduce modeling through a six step process that is generic and works well in a variety of social sciences as well as in STEM disciplines:

  • examining data;
  • cartooning the processes involved in the phenomena under consideration;
  • writing equations in the form of words;
  • converting these words equations into a mathematical model;
  • entering the data and model into a simple spreadsheet; and,
  • developing appropriate visualizations of the model output to explore patterns or fit with the original data.

Finally, discussions of how to help students learn how models that we know to be false even before we ever built them (due to necessary simplifications) can be fruitfully used to make decisions in complex situations full of uncertainty, ambiguity, and conflicting information. Prior to the workshop, we will share the University of Chicago philosopher William Wimsatt’s article “False Models to Build Locally Truer Theories” with registered participants.

After a short introduction from each of the presenters, participants will break off for hand-on exploration of the techniques they’d like to modify and adopt for their own courses.

Follow-up session materials will be available.

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