On Thursday, February 12, Professor William Mangrum asked that our Composition 250 class act as participant observers in another class. He specifically asked that we try and be participant observers in a class related to our major. Unfortunately, my schedule does not contain any Physics courses, so instead I choose to complete this task in my Math 113 course. The goal of my observation period was to distinguish and make a connection between student and teacher interaction. I wanted to see if there was a correlation between certain teaching action and student participation.
As I walked through the door, I noticed that the two scholars who usually arrive to class first were indeed the only two there when I walked into the room. Unlike Composition 250, I am not required to learn the names for all the scholars in my class. However, I did know the names of the two scholars I sit with on a regular basis, Zoe and Jamie Laurent. Class started shortly after 11 am, and like usual, Professor Kathy Eagen wasted no time delving into the content. I noticed that there was a reoccurring theme in the room, confusion. The concept presented to us that class period was on slope, and different equations regarding lines. I felt very comfortable in this class, I knew that much. I had learned these concepts my sophomore of high school, so naturally I feel that this class is simply a review. Regardless, this class required effort. I felt that nearly everyone in the room was focused on Eagen’s lecture, almost fearful of missing the concepts she described. I noticed that as usual, a certain few fellows walked in about ten minutes late to class, all of them carrying long boards. Class began to settle 20 minutes after the start, and the volume level became nearly extinct.
The Professor had us split into groups and complete a worksheet, which was designed to be a review for a quiz we take at the end of class every Friday. My group usually hosts the same scholars, and oddly enough I only know two of their names. I’m not proud of that, but math is usually a class where people come to learn and focus on math. It is very hard to engage with people in math class, mainly due to the upbeat teaching style. I very much felt a sense of disconnectedness in there, and I noticed that rarely anyone talks to each other. However I did notice a reoccurring pattern, the connection between the professor and older scholars. I feel that they better understand her teaching methods, seeing as they are usually the ones answering the questions. I feel that the scholars who sit on the right side of the room tend to ask less questions and participate less, even though the podium where the professor lectures leans towards the right side of the room.
As class neared its end I noticed that almost every scholar looked anxious, tired, done, and hungry; it was nearly lunch time. Even the professor was ready to leave, so she handed out quizzes a bit early. I finished my quiz a bit earlier than most, and as I walked out I knew that the dynamic I just participated in was one that resembled a pattern. I came to conclude that after actually noting and paying attention to interactions in that class, I saw a pattern of repetitive interactions. I felt that I had truly come away with a better understanding of my class environment, and for that I was grateful.