Examples of Materials
In order to incorporate the VSI methodology into regular lecture courses, we first have to capture good content. We professional record skilled professors in the content area. We help infuse the lecture with break points so that students are afforded the opportunity to process the materials. Next, we develop materials that enhance the lecture providing preview, process, and review activities.
College Algebra Example
Other VSI Materials and Information
- VSI Information Sheet (pdf)
- Facilitator Training Guide Sample (pdf)
- In-Class VSI Sessions and Testimonies (Youtube)
Some Reviews of VSI Materials
John Beem, Professor of Mathematics (now retired) University of Missouri - Columbia Summer 1999
The College Algebra 110 Video-based Supplemental Instruction course is definitely very good. In particular, the video tapes are excellent and the written materials keyed to the video tapes are certainly well done. Richard Delaware is an outstanding lecturer and is exceptionally well-organized. The choice of material is quite good and represents somewhat more material than one might ordinarily find in a 3 unit college algebra course. For one thing, Unit 0 is mainly topics covered in intermediate algebra and usually covered very quickly and lightly in a college algebra course as compared to the coverage in these materials. Also, the tapes and materials cover more in the way of proofs than is usually covered in a college algebra course. I would judge that the amount of material in this taped version of Math 110 to be equivalent to at least 3 units and probably a bit more. I would judge that the overall level of the later units is somewhat above the level ordinarily expected in a college algebra course. Based on the tapes, I would rate this as a very good college algebra course with a substantial 3 units of college algebra level content.
There are several specific things that I like about this course which should be mentioned. The first point that I would like to make is that the graphing calculator is used in appropriate places and in appropriate ways. It is not a crutch, but rather an instrument to enhance the learning process. In particular, some of the limitations of graphing calculators are made clear a number of times. At several places, some ways of getting around certain limitations of graphing calculators are carefully spelled out.
A second point that I would like to make is the use of the "stop tape" feature. This is clearly a good idea. In particular, at a number of places the students are given a problem and then they are to work on the problem during a stop tape segment. After the stop tape segment, one way of doing the problem is then shown on the tape. This cannot help but get the students involved and more interested.
A third point that I would like to make is that the historical references made during the tape are quite informative and I am sure that many students will be "turned on" by the knowledge that mathematics has a history and was done by people. Too often mathematics, especially college algebra, is presented as though it is material that fell out of the sky.
I have attached an Appendix A which has some specific comments on the video tapes and an Appendix B which has some specific comments on the Facilitator's Manual. I have included some suggestions in these appendices and I have written in some comments on the original materials sent to me. I wish to make clear that all of my suggestions are of a rather minor nature. In fact, these materials are already so good that they can certainly be used as is with no changes. Nevertheless, I have tried to make some constructive suggestions which may be of some use.
[The next two paragraphs of specific suggestions, and the two Appendices are omitted.]
In summary, let me state that I feel this is an excellent course and I am impressed with the work that has gone into its creation.
Joe Yanik, Professor of Mathematics, & Betsy Yanik, Professor of Mathematics Emporia State University (Emporia, KS) Summer 1999
Summary (Betsy Yanik)
After viewing approximately half of the tapes on the VSI in College Algebra with Richard Delaware series, I would like to make a few general comments about them. I think each tape showed that a great deal of thought and preparation had gone on before filming. The placement of the material on the writing tablet, the associated discussion, and the examples chosen to make particular points were thoroughly thought through. Richard Delaware has a strong voice with enough variation and tonal accents to make his discussions easy to listen to for students (versus a monotone type voice). He is careful in his use of mathematical language, and he usually makes an important comment at just those places where students have difficulties or are likely to miss important conceptual ideas. His writing is very clear and easy to read. His sketches of graphs are well done, and he has tried whenever possible to introduce visuals into the lectures. I also thought his numerous historical references were very interesting. Richard pays attention to details and rarely misspeaks -- quite an accomplishment when one realizes this project involves 40 some hours of tape.
I think this material will be a valuable resource for those who, for whatever reason, can not participate in a traditional classroom course. I still think a classroom experience is preferable because of the direct interactions with students and the spontaneity of dealing with questions. However, this project has been very well done, and a student who is self disciplined and dedicated will find this to be an excellent means of learning the material in College Algebra.
I am quite impressed with how well this has been done. Because by the nature of reviewing the material on individual tapes, I think it is often the corrections and suggestions for improvement that form the bulk of the report. Therefore, I think it is important to stress in this overall summary the very favorable impression I had of this work.
[Detailed comments are omitted here.]
General Impressions (Joe Yanik)
These tapes serve as a very thorough and well-thought out coverage of the topics of college algebra. Dr. Delaware has obviously made a considerable effort to anticipate the common types of student errors and to address these in advance. This seems to me to be a necessary part of any videotaped lecture series where the instructor does not have the advantage of student interaction. In addition Dr. Delaware is more careful than most college algebra textbooks to be mathematically correct (without being too technical). Watching this gave me a real sense of the advantage of having a qualified mathematician teaching college algebra.
His cheerful demeanor and sense of humor should help him to bridge the gap created by the medium. I think that students will relate well to some of his common expressions such as calling a fact "handy" or saying that some result or simplification "makes us happy". It is easy to see how he has earned a reputation as an effective teacher. It is difficult to imagine that it could have been done much more effectively.
[Other detailed comments are omitted here.]