Talking about our work at the Rollins College Student Resource Center, Florida, USA

Posts tagged ‘problem-solving’

micro-ing the macro w/John Folkerth

Or is that macro-ing the micro?  I’m only married to an economist…not one myself.  John isn’t majoring in economics, but as an IR major, he’s taken 203 (micro/macro) and has helped a bunch of students with that technical intro course.  (Also with the other ECO course he’s had, 202, Historical Perspectives.)

John had helped this client before; their rapport was great.  Sitting next to the client, with all her materials in front of her, John led her in a discovery process that underscored what she already knew and where she had to tweak her process.  She was very active, looking at her laptop (APLIA–which John says is the only book in the course) and her notes (she says, “This is the notes I have on that part,” when John shows her how to expand something, an explanation, on the APLIA screen.)  After they worked on a problem together, he showed her how to go through the APLIA explanation.  “Oh, we did that. Oh, that was stupid” (referring to something he had suggested they do).

Which brings me to what I really loved about John’s session.  He was honest with his client from the outset, saying this part of the course was really hard, that he’d had trouble (with “the tricky problems”), but that didn’t stop him; the two of them jumped right in to figuring it out.  She saw him work with her knowledge, guide her to where he already was, then work together in the “tricky” parts.

John just wrote in his self-evaluation (journal 4) that (a)lthough they comprehend the concepts better, sometimes I feel I could do more to foster a greater feeling of independence with my clients. I have been working on some techniques that encourage the client to work through the economics equations while I simply guide them.”  Indeed.  He certainly has, and they showed.  He continued, “…but without them reading the book beforehand, it becomes difficult for me to foster an environment of independence. I have a feeling that this client had read the “book” (online APLIA) before, but maybe not.  What John did was to work alongside and guide the client in this challenging problem-solving, and go to the APLIA explanation with her to see what they had done right and where they had gone wrong. That made “reading the book” incredibly real, concrete and meaningful.  I know she will never skip over those explanations again.

His questions guided her in good problem-solving: “The best way is to write down what you are given.” “So what would you start with as your baseline?” “So we’re going to start with….” (He used that technique from time to time, starting the sentence and letting her finish.)  “You would expect consumption to be what?” (interpreting something on the x/y axis)  … and later in the session, “So what about trying to calculate MPC?”  “So let’s write it out… YOU write it…”

After they’d figured out the tricky problem, he asked, “Do you want to do this one again, with different values?”  And near the very end, “let’s review.  How would you find the (insert ECO speak term here)….?”  Step 8 of the Tutor Cycle, methinks.  And a great role model for ECO students.


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