Penn State York lecturer in mathematics, Joan Smeltzer and I are working with her Spring 2018 Math 21 (College Algebra) students on resilience. We’ve submitted an IRB proposal hoping to share results at a conference of developmental educators in April (PADE Conference)
Our study plan is as follows: students in both sections of Math 21 receive general instruction about building resilience along with information about one strategy called “Thinking Like an Optimist” from the work of Martin Seligman at the University of Pennsylvania. In this strategy, people practice thinking in the ways that research shows optimists think in difficult times: they 1) think that the difficulty is time bound; 2) that the difficulty doesn’t encompass their entire lives; and 3) they can do something.
Students will have just taken an exam and gotten back the results – so the in class discussion in both sections will be about how to use this strategy to do better in the next exam. In one of the sections, we will take the activity even further and students will map out on a time management grid, specific times that they will dedicate to studying math between this day and the next exam. Time spent in the Alexs software system will be tracked and exam scores compared. We are trying to get a sense of how much instruction on resilience might be needed to make a difference for students.