The Thayer Method

GGC students work on lab exercises.

Instructors in the Mobile Learning Project use the Thayer Method, named for Sylvanus Thayer, the Superintendent of the United States Military Academy at West Point from 1817 to 1833. Thayer increased academic rigor and made the focus of the academic program to train civil engineers for the growing nation. The Thayer Method views teaching as supporting student learning.

The Method’s hallmark is that students prepare prior to class, so each lesson is published in advance with student lesson objectives, study assignments, terms, concepts and homework problems. There is a "contract" where students commit to preparing before class and instructors commit to flexibility in facilitating student learning during class.

Supplementing with Technology

To adapt to the many, varied learning styles of GGC students, the traditional lecture course is supplemented with other instructional techniques, including mobile technology like the iPod Touch, to deliver course content. This technology better prepares students to learn in and beyond the confines of the traditional classroom in order to enhance their understanding of organic chemistry. These devices can be used any time and in any location, so students can conveniently study wherever they are.

Instructors in the Mobile Learning Project allow and encourage students to employ cell phones, mp3 players and other mobile technology during class and lab, but not during graded events such as exams and quizzes.

Enabling Students

Many students are initially unfamiliar with the highly structured nature of the classes and perhaps a little intimidated by the idea of working problems at the whiteboards. However, over the course of the semester, many students come to appreciate the help that this structure gives them in terms of preparation for each lesson and learning the material. This model enables students to become active participants, rather than passive observers, in class. The result?

  • Students take more responsibility for their own learning and develop strong study skills
  • Instructor roles change from lecturer to facilitator
  • Students collaborate with peers and improve communication skills
  • Student-instructor engagement is maximized