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Thayer Method

Thayer Method for Mathematics Classes 


The Thayer Method of instruction originated at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York.  Since its implementation nearly two hundred years ago, the Thayer Method has remained relatively unchanged, proving tremendously effective in ensuring student mastery of the core mathematics.

Far too often in mathematics classes, a common pattern occurs.  The teacher describes a problem and may work it on the board.  He or she then asks if the students have any questions.  They typically respond by saying they do not.  The reason for this is that observing an expert working through the solution of a problem logically makes sense.  Unfortunately, after the homework problems are assigned, students are not required to demonstrate that they understand the process and concepts modeled by the teacher.  Consequently, they go home and struggle to complete the assigned problems.  

In the Thayer Method, however, students work out their homework problems on white boards, explaining the problem, their answers, and the rationale they used to the entire class. The benefit of the Thayer Method is that students are actively engaged throughout the course of a class period, being required to demonstrate their thinking process. Additionally, Instructors gain insight into what each student is thinking, and they have the opportunity to correct their thinking, when necessary. Students also develop effective communication skills, having to explain how they arrived at a particular solution/answer. Students develop leadership skills, as they may be called upon to explain a solution or assist a struggling classmate. The Thayer Method ensures students gain true conceptual understanding of mathematics, as they are required to walk the class through their computation process and solutions.