Improving math (and science) education is important, I think. The Netherlands and other Western countries have well developed societies and economies in which many things are rather well arranged and taken care of. Thanks to efforts that have been made in the past good societal institutions, a good infrastructure and competitive companies have been built. It is not a given that this prosperity will remain. On the contrary, keeping our prosperity requires that we'll have to find new answers to questions like: What do we want to build? What do we want to be good at/become good at? How do we want to compete in the international market (taking into account the rapid development of countries like China)? Good education is essential to remain competitive and to keep societies dynamic and thriving. This applies in particular for math and science education. For an explanation, see this video with Neil deGrasse Tyson on the importance of math and science education.
The project Bètacoach seems to me to be a well thought-out and promising way to give improve math and science education in secondary education. Here is a pointwise explanation of the project:
- What is Bètacoach? In September 2010 a pilot started in which third-graders with low self-confidence in math and science were asked to become coaches of four to five first-graders during math class. Once a week the bètacoaches joined the lesson which was prepared by the teacher, to help their group of first-graders.
- Role-reversal education: an important principle which is used in the project is that of role-reversal education. Research has shown that by explaning things, people construct knowledge again which helps anchor this knowlegde better and which makes it easier to connect it to information.
- Choosing bètacoaches: the following steps help to choose the bètacoaches: 1) choose students for whom there is room for improvement with respect to their grades and/or their self-confidence, 2) discuss their suitability for the bètacoach role with your colleagues, 3) aks the students for the role and make clear that the role is an important one, 4) express that you expect that the student will be able to fulfill the role well, 5) be demanding: make it clear that the role requires commitment and effort.
- Preliminary findings: both the first-graders and the third-graders turn out to be enthusiast about the project. First-graders said the could concentrate better, felt more comfortable to ask questions and understood the material better. The bètacoaches themselves, the third-graders, said they learned from the experience and that they had become more active.
For more information, here is a video of the project: Math Boost
What do think of this project? Do you like it? Do you see the link with the solution-focused approach?