Flipping the Duke Political Science Graduate “Math Camp”

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One of the problems faced by many Ph.D. and M.A. programs in the social sciences is how to prepare graduate students for the advanced mathematical and statistical concepts they will be using as part of their research and methods classes.  Many graduate programs, including Duke, have a “math camp” to give them the necessary background to apply math concepts in ways they will be using them in their work.

However, students come to graduate studies with varying background and levels of interest in math.  With only a short time available to get the students started – Duke’s math camp is only two weeks – how can faculty use this time most effectively?

David Siegel, a faculty member in Political Science, has prepared an online, self-paced video course that students can use before they arrive at Duke to ensure they understand basic concepts and the practical use of math in social science research so that the two week math camp can be used for more in-depth work and customized help for incoming graduate students.

Screenshot of video by Siegel

Siegel prepared the video course using a check-out recording kit and consulting from the CIT over the past few months.  Students can use a pdf syllabus containing links to over one hundred short videos that explain how to apply basic mathematical operations in Social Science, recognize and avoid pitfalls in applying mathematics and statistics in research work and attain the basic mathematical literacy required for published research.  The online video lectures are accompanied by a textbook and online video problem sessions. Students can use exercises at the end of each textbook chapter and additional online problem sets for practice.

The course is being used by incoming Political Science graduate students this summer for a “flipped” version of Duke’s “math camp” when they arrive in the Fall.  In addition to making the materials available online for use by other political science departments, Siegel is reaching out to faculty in other disciplines in which graduate math training is not uniform to adapt the online materials to include examples for those disciplines.

Siegel will assess student reactions to the videos and problems sets and the effectiveness of the “flipped” math camp this Fall.

Duke faculty interested in flipping their courses and exploring creative ways to solve student learning problems can contact the Center for Instructional Technology to talk about ideas and campus resources available for their instruction with a consultant.

Randy Riddle

Author: Randy Riddle

Randy Riddle is a Senior Consultant in Duke Learning Innovation and consults with faculty in the Social Sciences on pedagogy, learning, student assessment, and integrating technology into teaching practices. His professional interests include active learning, “flipped” classroom methods, inclusive classroom strategies, and integration of e-learning tools, social networking, video and multimedia, and data visualization into the daily work of teaching.