Salient. Newspaper of Victoria University of Wellington Students Association. Vol 41 No. 3. March 13 1978
The department's response to these problems has been to introduce the "Keller plan" system, the two-year trial period in the Math 205 course now augmented to include Math 115. This is a little hard to fathom. Either the trial in Math 205 vindicated the scheme, in which case why does it not see much wider application, or it did not, in which case it should be scrapped. It seems hard to believe that after a two-year trial a definite decision has not been reached.
The Keller Plan appears to counter arguments about the imappropriability of lectures by eliminating them altogether, the material being presented in modules including a comprehensive range of exercises designed to increase familiarity with the material. By replacing one big exam with a series of little tests many of the arguments regarding one-off exams are also countered.
Unfortunately for all its strengths the system has some major failings. As it stands stands at present, maximum benefit from the system depends strongly upon a regular series of tutorials, where hopefully the bulk of the learning would take place in a group situation However last year in
Math 205 the tutorials were very poorly patronised, the majority of students preferring to work completely on their own or in groups of friends. Part of the reason for this failure may have been the tutors' inability to fulfil the role which the students page 7 asked of them.
Questions requiring a simple yes-no answer were met by involved and tortuous explanation while those which revealed a fundamental lack of understanding received the "put this here, that there — bingo!" type of response. Basically the tutorials failed because the department did not realise that this type of teaching approach requires more staff time combined with more aware and sympathetic tutoring of a kind not required in the mass-production lecture based courses. Hopefully this type of problem will gradually disappear as both staff and students become more aware of the strengths and weaknesses of the system.