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Peer Review

Fastest-Growing States? Population Surprises

by James Rutledge


Overall Rating:

4.75 stars
Content Quality: 4.75 stars
Effectiveness: 4.75 stars
Ease of Use: 4.75 stars
Reviewed: Jan 25, 2013 by Mathematics
Overview: This site contains a pedagogical module for College Algebra course consisting of a Question of the Day and a write-pair-share activity involving U.S. state population growth. The activity is designed to develop a better conceptual understanding of exponential growth in general and gain some knowledge of the growth in U.S. state populations.
Learning Goals: The major goals for the learners are for them to develop a deeper understanding of exponential growth. Learners will also be able to see the connection between a real-life application, US populations, with exponential growth.
Target Student Population: College Algebra and Liberal Arts Mathematics students.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: Students will need to have basic understanding of the operations on exponents. Students should also have some basic computer skills to be able to perform Internet searches.
Type of Material: The learning activity can be used as self-assessment, assignment, or a developmental tool.
Recommended Uses: Homework or in class group work.
Technical Requirements: Works an every browser.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 4.75 stars
Strengths: The design of the activity promotes active learning. Students are actively learning independently as well as collaboratively with their peers. In addition, students will make that real – life connection with exponential growth. The students will have the opportunity to use live population data. The Question of the Day helps student understand how state populations have been changing in recent years. The write-pair-share activity is designed to get students to consider various reasons for demographic shifts.
Concerns: Prerequisite knowledge is unclear. The activity suggests that it is appropriate for college algebra or liberal arts math students. However, learners will need to have some understanding of figures related to populations. It might be challenging for them to just take random guesses about how the growth rate of the five chosen states.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 4.75 stars
Strengths: The learning object clearly identifies the objectives and builds upon prior concepts. This learning activity is also easy for instructors to incorporate in any upper level Algebra course. Furthermore, the teaching materials and notes are concise, to the point and easy to follow.
Concerns: One concern could be the limited information as to what specifically is the prerequisite knowledge needed for learners to be successful at this activity. There could also be some guidance included as to how the learners should randomly guess growth rates.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 4.75 stars
Strengths: Any instructor can start using this module immediately. It is well thought out and organized. The instructions very easy to follow. Learners are using current data to analyze the theory of exponential growth. The learning activity is certainly easy to use for instructors as well as learners. The activity can be easily converted to the online only environment.
Concerns: One concern with the ease of use is that one of the links titled “Florida Population Growth Chart” leads students to a percent growth table of all the states. Perhaps there should be some direction for the learners to seek out exactly what information is being inquired of them.