The heart of any good instructional experience is a steady progression of challenges that lead the student toward content and conceptual mastery. Each challenge, for its part in this progression, needs to be sufficiently rigorous so as to engage the student, yet carefully designed so as not to encourage frustration. An interest in providing every student with good math and physics instruction is the driving force behind InsightSGI.
Traditional Classrooms and their Realities
Under good circumstances, traditional classroom instruction can be remarkably effective. Most math teachers are good if not great, and their efforts to meet the needs of students are typically commendable. Unfortunately, these teachers are often forced to work through difficult circumstances. They are often charged with managing large and widely diverse classes, they are expected to deal with frequent and perplexing student behaviors, and the dynamics of the schools produce a stream of instructional interruptions. Because of these circumstances, realities that plague traditional classrooms, teachers are often forced to compromise quality, lower expectations, and omit important lessons. So, despite the wealth of good and great teachers, good instruction is rare.
Although individual tutors do not face the difficult circumstances faced by classroom teachers, their one-on-one interaction with students does not always result in good instruction. Tutors are often trained solely in content and are, therefore, likely to provide instruction simply in the form of the steps needed to solve specific problems. Such an approach (which can sometimes also be seen in traditional classrooms) will serve students only in a limited domain. Students instructed in this manner, when posed with unfamiliar problems, are unprepared to succeed. Unfortunately for these students, almost all standardized-test and real-world problems will be largely unfamiliar to them.
InsightSGI has been designed to address the limitations often posed by traditional classroom instruction and tutoring. In the face-to-face sessions students are gathered in groups of no more than four, and the students are provided with customized lessons characterized by frequent instructor interaction and monitored peer interaction. And, although the distance sessions are one-on-one, all InsightSGI sessions are designed to provide each student with a careful progression of challenges that encourage students to attain a mastery of the content and concepts at hand. Students in these sessions will need to commit to a thorough academic effort throughout each session without exception. This commitment from all will lead to a richly engaging experience that will supplement classroom instruction, and it will help to repair and extend a strong mathematical foundation for each student.
Students in InsightSGI are expected to put forth effort throughout each session. The idea behind this expectation is that all of us can improve our mathematical understanding through thoughtful engagement in challenging experiences. Therefore, the InsightSGI experience is designed only for students who are willing and able to maintain concerted effort throughout their sessions. Students, in turn, can expect to be provided with a steady stream of challenging problems, discussions, and activities that will help them to reach greater levels of mathematical understanding.