Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Tables, tables and more tables

One of the more challenging parts of teaching the entry level classes is to convey the theory and practice of the recreational dive planner (RDP). The RDP that we use consists of three tables. Each table has its own purpose and reason for being. I suppose to the students learning and applying the RDP to diving profile planning is much like going to the dentist - painful, but necessary.

For most of the classes that I teach we manage to get through the RDP without too much trouble. However, recently I had one of those classes that seem to be a little more challenging. It seemed that I had more than my fair share of RDP challenged students in one class (not that there is much mathematics involved, just logic and being careful to apply the correct method).

I decided to teach the RDP at the most elementary level that I have ever presented the material. I assumed nothing and explained every obscure and obvious element. I had one student that was absolutely brilliant. She managed to complete the quizzes and exam in a record time (scoring mostly 100% every time). The snail's pace must have been torture to her.

Eventually after much explanations, discussions and examples it was time for the quiz. I asked the students to start the quiz with a heavy heart. I was sure that my words had not had much effect and that I would have to schedule another "RDP evening". Eventually I received the quizzes back and surprisingly ALL the students scored very well on the RDP portions.

Perhaps a valuable lesson learned - never assume that the students will not eventually "get it". However, the next time I teach the RDP, I will teach the class in the same way as I did with this class. Assume nothing and explain every obscure and obvious detail. Unfortunately the quicker students will be bored silly, but knowing how to use the RDP and being comfortable with using it is vital to safe diving.

1 comment:

Susan said...

I didn't find learning the dive table that difficult, and actually find them enjoyable at times. Like algebra there is always an answer, black and white. But I am a bit of a nerd and have always been good at that sort of chart reading stuff.

You have discovered one of the major problems with being a teacher. All of your students come to the table with different skills and you never know what those might be. Sometimes you get that one student who really doesn't need your help, but most often they don't know/know how to use one or another piece of essential information.