My Courses and the Levels of IBL

I have six days of teaching left this year. I have finished the last round of midterm exam grading. Committees are meeting to talk about writing the common final examinations. At this point in the semester, I always take a look at grade data and try to figure out, “How can I do better next semester?” I’m hoping to write a few blog posts trying to figure this out. Here goes the first!

Current courses: Calculus 1 (using Stewart’s Early Transcendetal calculus book) and Precalculus. [Our Precalculus course has College Algebra as its prerequsite.]

Current course structure: Four in-class exams (75 minutes each). Two online homework assignments per week. Three lectures per week (40 minutes each) and one “Lab” day per week (75 minutes). On lecture days, end class with 5-10 minutes of “group problems” to have students think, discuss, and digest the day’s topic.

Bret Benesh (or @bretbenesh) provided a great link to Stan Yoshinobu’s post about “the Levels of IBL.” It seems my class fits into Level 2:

The instructor lectures for most of the time, but intersperses some interactive engagement, where students are asked questions and given mathematical tasks that require thinking and making sense, such as “Think Pair Share”.  Interactive engagement may take up a few minutes to anywhere up to approximately a third of class time, which may vary day-to-day or be based on weeks (e.g. lecture MW, problems on F). A key feature is that lectures remain a significant component of the teaching system.  The instructor is the primary mathematical authority and validator of correctness.

Overall, I’m relatively comfortable with this level. It’s hard for me to picture how I could move to “Level 3” and lecture only 1/3 to 1/2 of the class time. My major concern is the time investment it would take. Maybe eventually I could move in this direction, but probably not before next semester.

Conclusion: I’ll plan to stay at “Level 2” for the time being, until I can iron out some issues and have more time to create (or find) more content for my students.

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