This page describes a number of things we've learned over the past several summers that seem to best support undergraduates to learn math, to learn about writing math, and to produce high-quality Image pages.
What to expect of students:
- A reasonable expectation for ten weeks' work at 35 - 40 hours per week is 3 - 4 image pages. This includes finding images, learning and researching mathematics, designing and writing the page, dealing with technical challenges, and especially, revising and working with feedback. The feedback process usually involves numerous iterations and takes a lot of time, but this is where students do their most significant learning and is what allows us to create pages that can be valuable resources.
Getting people to work together and with you:
- Beginning the project with an ice-breaker activity that allows students to get to know each other can be useful. One example of this type of activity would be having students look at existing pages, and describe their reactions, which pages they liked best and why, etc. over pizza.
- Creating symmetry between you and the students, to the extent that this possible, has been useful in this project because it sets students up to take more initiative, ask more questions, and work more effectively with feedback. This can go two directions: you can do activities that you ask your students to do, such as creating a user-page,and participating in the ice-breaker. You can also allow your students to have a significant voice in shaping directions of meetings and of the project as a whole.
Pedagogical and feedback issues:
- More advanced and less advanced students can all write effective pages, come up with good ideas, and provide each other with useful feedback on their pages.
- Students will treat the material at whatever level is appropriate for them, so students should choose their own topic.
- In our experience, students can work well together and provide each other with support. In past summers, students have often supported each other in working through technical and mathematical challenges, but most direct feedback on their pages has come from instructors. Our limited use of peer feedback on writing on content, however, has been really positive. This summer we plan to explicitly introduce the peer feedback process early around the second week of the summer so that it will be a full integrated part of the page-writing process by the end of the first month. We will keep you posted on how this is working.
- Having a well-organized, useful feedback system makes things more pleasant for everybody. See Feedback Principles for observations from the past two summers about practices that seem to help the feedback system work well.