Motivated Students Teach Themselves

I was struck by this Innovation in Teaching article in The Key Reporter, particularly these passages.

Student’s are fueled by their own desire to learn. If students enter the program without much technical experience and they are interested in the software, they must teach themselves to use it, requiring intense motivation.

…students must translate those on their own or seek outside assistance…

Perusal of the Ashes2Art website indicates that this seems to be a senior level endeavor.  One sees it as the culmination of a college education.  Here students give evidence that they are life-long learners (a typical mission of the university) by showing that they can learn on their own, possibly something outside of their comfort zone.

And learning on one’s own has never been easier.  The web is replete with videos and PowerPoints and lecture notes on virtually any subject. It turns out that part of our human nature is the desire to share our knowledge.

A well-designed senior capstone project should have a component that requires learning not directly tied to the major – mastery of a specialized presentation tool, or use of information in another language, or understanding the views of a different discipline to name some.  Ashes2Art is a great example.

Postscript:  I am currently in the throes of learning how to use the graphical visualization tool gephi.  This has turned out to be somewhat frustrating since the intuitive interface doesn’t always work as expected but since I have a motivating objective – understanding how my students succeed in subsequent math classes – I am persisting and having fun anyway.


About jrh794

I am a sixty-five year old math instructor at Southern Oregon University. I taught at the College of the Siskiyous in Weed California for twenty-six years. Prior to that I worked as a computer programmer, carpenter and in various other jobs. I graduated from Rice University in 1967 and have a MS in Operations Research from Stanford. In the past I have hand-built a stone house and taken long solo bicycle tours. Now I ride my mountain bike and play golf for recreation.
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