Today I finished my first week with a new employer. And I think I'm going to enjoy this position.
What is this new position? I'm now a part of the Math Department at the College of Western Idaho. And I'm helping to unroll a brand new way to teach mathematics.
Typically, students come to a math class with a variety of backgrounds and levels of mastery of previous material. An instructor will stand in front of everyone and lecture. Then students leave to work on homework assignments outside of class. Because they approach the class with sometimes rather substantial differences in levels of mastery of previous material, that lecture might help them or it might bore them or it might be completely undecipherable to them.
Enter the new model, the one I am helping to launch. Students come to a computer lab where there is an instructor but no lecture. The first week students take diagnostic tests to ascertain what skills they have mastered. Based on those results, students can test out of material that they demonstrate they have mastered. As a result, they can enroll in fewer credits, saving them money. And then they make an individual study plan, a list of the homework assignments, quizzes, and tests they will complete over the course of the semester. This plan is tailored for where each individual is at that moment, so everyone comes to class to receive what they need based on where they are. It also factors in only those topics the students need for whatever future math classes they need depending on their major field of study.
In class, students work on computer-delivered instruction. There are videos, multimedia presentations, interactive problem solving modules, and an electronic textbook. Additionally, an instructor is present in the room to provide individualized instruction for those students who need additional help. Students can work on homework anywhere, but tests must be taken in the computer lab room for security purposes and to certify what students really have mastered.
As the semester progresses, students submit a weekly report on the progress they made on their individualized study plan. Instructors can then take action when it is clear that a student is falling behind, providing additional assistance that keeps students from dropping out of class and even school.
The end result (hopefully --- this is the first semester this model is being delivered) is that each student will come to the class in the place where they are and learn only what they need to learn. We'll see how this develops. There are some 2200 students enrolled in the class, and I'll be working with students in 12 of the sections. I'm still waiting on HR and IT to process my paperwork, so I can't say how many students I have. I don't even have a school email address. But the other faculty and staff I've met so far strike me as really good people with who I'm going to enjoy working. I feel very blessed to have this position and look forward to helping great things happen!
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