Sunday, June 26, 2011

Re: A Question: Where Does Current Reform Come From?

Some blog followers might be interested in a discussion-list post “Re: A Question: Where Does Current Reform Come From?” [Hake (2011)].

The abstract reads:

ABSTRACT: Joshua Fisher (2011) in his Math-Teach post “A Question: Where Does Current Reform Come From?” wrote (paraphrasing): “How does one enable middle school kids to know the formula for the area of a sphere as required by the standards? . . . .So just give it to ‘em, right? Yet, my supervisor tried to avoid this consequence. My question is . . . . ‘What is the incentive to promote Not Telling over Telling?’ ”

For physics education, Fisher’s last question might be better posed as “What is the incentive to promote ‘Interactive Engagement’ (IE) over ‘Direct Instruction’ (DI).” The answer is that over 40-years worth of physics education research has demonstrated that IE is far more effective in promoting students' conceptual understanding of physics than DI.

I suspect that a similar statement might be made for math education, but except for the work of Jerry Epstein (2007) at, there's been little, if any, pre- to post-course testing of math concepts. Thus math educators have little information on the relative effectiveness of IE and DI courses in promoting conceptual understanding.

To access the complete 19 kB post please click on

Richard Hake, Emeritus Professor of Physics, Indiana University
Honorary Member, Curmudgeon Lodge of Deventer, The Netherlands
President, PEdants for Definitive Academic References which Recognize the
Invention of the Internet (PEDARRII)

“…I point to the following unwelcome truth: much as we might dislike the implications, research is showing that didactic exposition of abstract ideas and lines of reasoning (however engaging and lucid we might try to make them) to passive listeners yields pathetically thin results in learning and understanding - except in the very small percentage of students who are specially gifted in the field.”
Arnold Arons in Teaching Introductory Physics (p. vii, 1997)

REFERENCES [URL’s shortened by and accessed on 26 June 2011.]
Arons, A.B. 1997. Teaching Introductory Physics. Wiley. information at Note the searchable “Look Inside” feature.

Hake, R.R. 2011. “Re: A Question: Where Does Current Reform Come From?” AERA-L archives at Post of 26 Jun 2011 15:07:50-0700 to Math-Teach, AERA-L, and NetGold. The abstract and link to the complete 19 kB post are being transmitted to various discussion lists.

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