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What and how much scaffolding is necessary for a motivated undergraduate student who doesn't have the ideal prerequesites for work? This could be for a number of reasons:

  • He didn't realize the purpose of certain classes until later.
  • He had troubles grasping concepts on his own and didn't have as much help as he should.
  • Really bad classes.

Whatever they are, he's willing to catch up. How to deal with this situation?

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    $\begingroup$ I would spend some time identifying the gaps this student has in their knowledge and then maybe devise a plan on how to catch up with this knowledge. $\endgroup$ – Alexander Vlasev Apr 1 '14 at 0:18
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    $\begingroup$ A related question some of the answers might be relevant (though I did not find a real answer to your question): matheducators.stackexchange.com/q/1137/61 $\endgroup$ – András Bátkai Apr 1 '14 at 19:33
  • $\begingroup$ The related question seems to be treating with overly basic matters. As an example for my question, consider a student who knows linear algebra but not dual spaces and linear functionals very well. $\endgroup$ – Mark Fantini Apr 1 '14 at 19:38
  • $\begingroup$ Do you think you could phrase your question so that it is not so broad? Right now it says: For some reason, a motivated undergraduate is behind where he should be in his work. How should an instructor [even this is implicit...] respond? $\endgroup$ – Benjamin Dickman Apr 2 '14 at 1:30
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    $\begingroup$ I also think this is far too broad. It should at least be asked from the point of view of his instructor in a current class, and perhaps even from the point of view of his instructor in a specific type of class. For example "When a calculus student knows no trigonometry, how best can I help him catch up?" probably even has different answers than "When an abstract algebra student knows nothing about matrices, how best can I help him catch up?" And "My research student doesn't seem to know how proofs work" would be even more different. $\endgroup$ – Chris Cunningham Apr 3 '14 at 15:24