Innovative Practices Spotlight

CAE Innovative Practices Spotlight


Dr. Tyrone Washington, Assistant Professor, Mathematics

The Center for Academic Excellence is recognizing a faculty member every month in the CAE Innovative Practices Spotlight to highlight his or her innovative classroom practices and outstanding contribution to Millersville University.

Dr. Tyrone Washington is being recognized in January for his exceptional use of iClickers in his Mathematics courses!

Please continue reading to learn more about Dr. Washington's exciting experience and to learn ways to incorporate innovative practices into your classroom.

1. What innovative practice did you incorporate into your classroom?

I use iClickers along with discussion in my Math 101 (College Algebra) and Math 160 (Precalculus) courses. I post a question and ask students to respond via iClicker. Afterward, I tell them to turn and talk to a partner(s). They answer again once they have a consensus. As the groups talk, I walk around and prompt them to explain with more than just the answer by posing the dreaded "Why" questions.

2. When did you implement the new practice into your classroom?

I started as soon as I got to Millersville University in 2012. But each time I teach the courses, I make modifications based on prior classes.

3. Did the students willingly accept the use of the new practice? What were the reactions of the students?

Most students are not familiar with talking to others about mathematical content in a classroom. However, once they understand that discussion and participation are norms in my class, they adjust to meet the challenge.

4. How has the use of the new practice positively affected the classroom learning environment?

The iClickers allow me to get instantaneous feedback regarding my student's understanding of the material. The discussion allows me to draw attention to my student's ideas and methods; which puts the ownership of the knowledge in their hands.

5. How has the use of the new practice affected student engagement in the classroom and the level of participation?

Using the iClickers allows my students to get past the notion that they are the only ones who are wrong or don't understand. I find this makes them more willing to share their thoughts and misconceptions. This willingness to share allows us as a class to address mistakes.

6. What challenges did you encounter when you were implementing the new practice?

There is always push-back from students who believe that they don't need to communicate with others in the room. In addition, the time required to implement this method can be a challenge. I try to consider the potential impact of these discussions with regard to student understanding of core topics for each course.

7. How did attending Camp IDEA or a CAE Professional Development session contribute to your learning and use of the innovative practice?

I have attended a few CAE PD sessions which helped me to consider how I foster dialogue. At the first-year orientation sessions, I learned about the iClicker system.