Dear Fellow Student Mathematicians and Scientists,
Introductory math and science courses taught from a heavy lecture perspective, instead of a constructivist foundation, defeat student curiosity and motivation. These Course Guide Books and Beyond the Lab Manuals are designed to inspire users to think like mathematicians and scientists and see that concepts learned are omnipresent every day in all that we do.
Traditional math and science labs and activities require expensive equipment and probeware; as a result, as budgets get cut, lab space gets reduced, and online learning burgeons, students often have to replace laboratory experiences with less-than-optimal online simulations. Yet Brain Based Learning Research resoundingly reports there is an element of “tinkering” and “hands-on manipulation” of objects to which all minds must be exposed in order to be inspired by the content and success in learning. Clicking a mouse through virtual reality labs is not the answer. Students need experiences that emphasize concepts to bridge content with experiences.
Increasing screen time with each successive generation has created new learner skills as well as deficits. Both of these realms must be nurtured for modern learner success. Student minds are adapted to online acquisition of fast facts but fail to apply learning or use constructivist approaches with real world items to solve problems. Therefore, we cannot continue to lecture to students and call it “teaching.” Introductory math and science should be explored through the eyes and background experiences of the student, not the professor. In order to create “lifelong learners”, whose scientific curiosity transcends classroom walls, students must learn to obtain information from a myriad of sources, digest and synthesize that information and apply it to research questions of their own curious creation. This process is the fundamental principle of these Course Guide Books and Beyond the Lab Manuals
Math and Science Courses must be Backwards Designed with experiences at the core of the curriculum and the content chosen to compliment. Typically, when planning a course calendar, instructors map out which topics must be lectured each day so they can “cover” all the material, then periodically insert related laboratories for students to perform. Lab and Lecture often feel disjointed to students and true learning connections fail to occur. These Course Guide Books and Beyond the Lab Manuals offer a backwards design, where essential student experiences have been selected as the primary lesson planning tool and the associated content attached to provide an enriching, constructivist approach to knowledge acquisition supported by educational research.
We truly hope you enjoy this approach.
Stephanie A. Blake
David V. Miller
Brandon J. Burnett