Wednesday, 23 January 2013

A Review on a paper about the Moore Method


"A Quick-Start Guide to the Moore Method" by Mahavier et al.

This is the second post in my series aiming to review a bunch of education literature. The previous post reviewed a paper looking at how threshold concepts could be missed when teaching a "classicaly" well run course.

This post is about a short paper aiming to introduce the reader to the Moore Method or Inquiry Based Learning (IBL).

My personal introduction to IBL was through G+ and +Dana Ernst  (who kindly passed this paper on to me) and +Theron Hitchman (and subsequently many more, check out the IBL community on G+).

This paper does not offer a very long description as to what IBL is or how to teach with it but it does give some pointers towards how to get started.
'The majority of Moore Method mathematics course will consist of students' presentations of solutions they produce independently from material provided by the instructor'
One of my favorite educational quotes (which I'm in fact using as the header for my second module pcutl portfolio) is by Moore:
'That student is taught the best who is told the least.'
After a brief introduction of the Moore Method the paper goes on to the following sections:
  • "Should I use the Moore Method?" (highlighting that every teacher should use what is best suited to their personality)
  • "I want to try the Moore Method. How do I start?" (options include attending workshops and/or looking up a mentor)
  • "How do I develop or select materials?" (there are a bunch of materials already developed, but pointers are also given for people wanting/needing to develop their own)
  • "What are the student goals for a Moore Method course?" (3 student centred goals are offered as starting points)
  • "How do I gain the support of my department chair and colleagues?" (A short discussion is offered that I won't try to fit in to these brackets, but basically it's worth getting support...)
  • "What will I do in the classroom each day?" (Some tips are given as to how to facilitate a pseudo-socratic discussion and ensure that students are ready to present. Most importantly it's highlighted that the teacher should not be the center of attention.)
  • "How do I grade a Moore Method course?" (A nice quote out of this section is "whatever grading system you decide on, it should encourage 'learning' over 'earning'")
  • "How do I assess my Moore Method courses?" (Lots of nice examples: ranging from requiring students to keep a diary to saving examples of students work and others...)
Conclusion This is a nice paper with a bunch of references, pointers to resources and a good overall discussion about how to get started implementing an IBL approach in class.

Here's my "PCUTL Mark" out of 10 which I'm using to say how useful this piece of literature is to me in the scheme of my pcutl portfolio (so it's not meant as a reflection of the quality of the paper which is subjective):

PCUTL Mark: 6 (this might be a bit low but it's not as useful as the previous paper)