Dr. Ian Affleck on Motivating Students

doctorIanAffleckDr. Affleck compares teaching mathematics with his love of coaching water polo and shared how his experience with the sport has influenced his philosophy of teaching.

For someone to learn to swim, he or she must not be afraid of the water. New swimmers should be prepared for what will be expected of them, and they should be warned about the dangers of being overly confident. Meanwhile, the three most at-risk groups of students in university math courses are (1) those who are intimidated by math, (2) those who are unprepared for the course they have entered, and (3) those who believe that they don’t need to work hard at it, since they’ve never had to work hard at math before. When (1) and (2) are combined, there is a significant chance that the student will leave the course without success, increasing their math anxiety and intimidation. When (2) and (3) are combined, the net effect of the course experience on the student could be to turn them off of a subject that they previously enjoyed.

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