Developing Mastery Through First-Hand Experience
"Intro to Problem Solving in Geometry & Algebra changed the way I thought about math. Before this course, I saw math as a packet that was practicing a simple skill—but after, I saw math as tied to the real world, where the variable is not always easily distinguished or manipulated." -VI Form studentWhenever possible, St. Andrew's coursework eschews traditional pedagogical models in which the student is a passive receptacle of faculty knowledge. Instead, faculty give students the chance to teach themselves progressively, through discussion, trial and error, and particularly through engaging students in the academic work of a discipline—that is, the practices and habits of professional scholars trained in that discipline. Faculty create coursework that provides a scaffolded structure through which students can move from classroom dialogue and experimentation the earliest years of study, to fully independent work in the VI Form year. This way of learning allows students to not only gain a deeper understanding of the subject at hand, but also to discover connections between disciplines, and to develop resiliency and strong communication skills. Students graduate prepared tackle the challenges of advanced work on the collegiate level.
- In III and IV Form introductory math courses, students are asked to solve problems like mathematicians. Through collaboration, example, and practice, students learn to move beyond the straightforward application of mathematical rules, and learn to use abstract reasoning and creativity to take on problems they have not explicitly seen before; to experiment with known data to find paths toward possible solutions.
- Our history curriculum requires all first-year students to take "Research Challenges," an American history course centered around the reading and analysis of primary sources. First-year history students develop their own questions and arguments about primary sources, and critically evaluate others' claims about the past.
- Physics courses use the Modeling Instruction pedagogy developed by faculty at Arizona State University. Students gain an understanding the physical world by constructing and testing scientific models, using these models to describe, explain, predict, and control physical phenomena. First-year physics students develop a solid foundation in verbal and written scientific argumentation; advanced physics students gain an understanding of Newtonian mechanics and use an atomic model of matter throughout the year—qualities that demonstrably distinguish these courses from traditional high school courses.