Graduate students who take up mathematics are burdened not only with the passion to obtain a deeper understanding and mastery of the subject but also with the responsibility to impart the knowledge they gain in their studies. It is acknowledged that there are only a few individuals who decide to pursue a degree in mathematics much less to attain a master’s degree or even doctorate in the field. It is clear, then, that the professors of mathematics undergraduate student are handled and taught by mathematicians who have obtained a higher educational degree in mathematics.
Friedberg (2005) endeavors to present ways through which mathematics graduate students can be made better teachers during their training and learning in graduate school. The importance of such a feat are also presented in the article. The audience of the article is the mathematics community specifically the administrative staff in mathematics departments everywhere. Friedberg (2005) aims to provide an alternative to the present teaching curricula in mathematics education.
He hopes to supplement the status quo with innovative teaching strategies that will develop the mathematics graduate students’ skills in teaching and handling undergraduate mathematics students. The article effectively presented the subject matter at hand in a readable manner. Anyone reading could easily relate to the document. Friedberg (2005) was also able to pinpoint the audience he was addressing in the article. This was effective in bringing his point across and establishing his goals with the article. However, the content and organization of the article, itself, is not as strong as it could be.
A better organization of arguments could have made it a stronger article. Article summary Friedberg (2005) noted that mathematics graduate students could develop better teaching skills by having activities called case studies. These case studies were aimed at enhancing two factors that contributed to better teaching skills: experience and good judgment. Case studies were described by Friedberg (2005) as group discussions on “depictions of aspects of teaching math to undergraduates, typically involving a difficulty or an important decision” (Friedberg, 2005, 844) Qualified individuals were assigned to act as moderators in the said discussions.
The success of the activity was reported by the author, who was also the one to conceptualize and develop the process. Statements given by students attesting to the effectiveness of case studies were also included in the article. Friedberg (2005) also relates the success of the teaching strategy by noting that the materials and case discussions he and his team have come up with have already been published and are already being used in different institutions for varied purposes. Dissecting the article
Friedberg (2005) was very effective in his use of simple and everyday language to present his points regarding mathematics graduate students and their teaching skills. The manner of presentation of the text was straightforward, uncomplicated, jargon-free. When a reader goes through all six pages of text, he or she will be able to easily understand everything. This is mostly because of the language used by Friedberg. The article’s target audience was also effectively identified even on the very first page of the article.
“The topic of this article should thus be of genuine importance to the entire math community. ” (Friedberg, 2005, 842) From this one line found on the first page, it is clear that the author has already pinpointed the audience for whom he intended the article. Knowing who the author is “talking to” is a very important factor that increases the value of the article. When the author has a clear idea who he intends the article for, he is able to narrow his discussion down to tailor-fit that particular audience. There are, therefore, a number of things that may be edited out of the article already.
The value of the article thus increases for that target population because the arguments and points contained therein are meant for them specifically. In writing the article, the author was also able to focus himself on concepts that would be most pertinent and relevant to his identified audience. Thus the Friedberg (2005) article is suited for the mathematics community and as such it will have the greatest value for that particular subgroup. Despite the positive factors regarding the article, the organization of the author’s points was not well thought out.
Friedberg (2005) tended to expound too much on certain topics that were not as necessary in driving home his point about case studies being effective teaching tools. For example, too much attention was given to teaching assistants and certain characteristics of that subgroup. Although the topic is related to the article’s main concern, its weight in the overall impact of the article should have been taken into consideration and the amount of time spent expounding that point should have been adjusted accordingly.
Conclusion Over-all, the article was effective in presenting the use of case studies as a tool for developing the teaching skills of mathematics graduate students. However, the arguments would have been more powerful if the author had given more thought to the organization of the article’s main points. Reference Friedberg, S. (2005). Teaching mathematics graduate students how to teach. Notice of the AMS, 52(8), 842-847.
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