If the teaching reform you’re pushing can’t help me observe and intervene in student interactions, then I’m not interested

Bridge to Tomorrow

Several years ago, the number one student in my introductory physics class was an engineering major who happened to be a black woman.  In fact, she had come from a high school with very challenging demographics – about 80% of the school’s students were eligible for free or reduced price lunches.  The students in my SCALE-UP physics classes work in groups of three, and I had placed this outstanding student in a group with another woman and a man who were both white.  It was halfway into the semester, and I knew all three students fairly well and did not that anticipate any issues would arise.  But I was wrong.  While circulating around the classroom, I noticed that the two white students in the group talked only to each other, and seemed to not even notice their third partner.  I was caught completely off guard by this development since the…

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