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Active Learning in Blackboard: Puzzle/Paradoxes

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Puzzle/Paradoxes

Puzzle/Paradoxes

Puzzle/Paradoxes present students with a paradox or a puzzle involving the concept(s) at issue, and have them struggle towards a solution. By forcing the students to “work it out” without some authority’s solution, you increase the likelihood that they will be able to critically assess theories when they are presented later.

In general, there are two steps involved in resolving a paradox.

  • Establish the paradoxical argument
  • Find the fault in the argument

As an example, one popular paradox is “The Surprise Examination”

“A teacher announces in class that an examination will be held on some day during the following week, and moreover that the examination will be a surprise. The students argue that a surprise exam cannot occur. For suppose the exam were on the last day of the week. Then on the previous night, the students would be able to predict that the exam would occur on the following day, and the exam would not be a surprise. So it is impossible for a surprise exam to occur on the last day. But then a surprise exam cannot occur on the penultimate day, either, for in that case the students, knowing that the last day is an impossible day for a surprise exam, would be able to predict on the night before the exam that the exam would occur on the following day. Similarly, the students argue that a surprise exam cannot occur on any other day of the week either. Confident in this conclusion, they are of course totally surprised when the exam occurs (on Wednesday, say). The announcement is vindicated after all. Where did the students’ reasoning go wrong?”

http://www-math.mit.edu/~tchow/unexpected.pdf

This active learning method can be used to draw out students’ intuitions and prior knowledge about a topic and to increase their ability to critically assess theories when they are later presented.

Blackboard Puzzle/Paradoxes Activity

Go to the content area in the course where you want the Puzzle/Paradoxes Activity to appear.

Click Tools> Discussion Board> Create New Forum> Name the forum something appropriate such as Chapter 1 Paradox Discussion

In the description area create text to explain the paradox and process, see the example listed below:

The Paradox : A teacher announces in class that an examination will be held on some day during the following week, and that the examination will be a surprise.

  • Students must post and original post before reading classmates post. Each student must establish the paradoxical argument and find the fault in the argument.
  • Students must also respond to at least two of their classmates original post and discuss to flaws to that students theory.

Click Submit> Select the Puzzle/Paradoxes Activity and select Next> fill out form making sure to select Participants must create a thread in order to view other threads in this forum and click Submit.

The Forum will appear in the content area.

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Written by Dr. Sherri E. Ritter

November 2, 2015 at 9:00 am

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