Thursday, April 09, 2009

review classes: how does one summarize several months into 1-2 days?

after friday: it's one more week of classes. among them will be review classes, and these are creatures of a different kind than the usual lecture.

i never know how to address review classes.

as an undergraduate i never liked them: to me they felt either redundant or limiting. nevertheless i attended the reviews.

study habits die hard, i guess.

perhaps i am too laisseζ-fairε. it is not my job to force the students to learn.

i offer them lessons, over the course of weeks and months; they can choose to listen, to study, or to do something else. there is always an assigned textbook; they can even read that and ignore me -- at least they would be learning!

trying to plan out a review seems like telling a student how (s)he should have learned the material, weeks ago. it has the feeling of "too little, too late."

say, didn't i do this or say that earlier ..
when i was teaching it the first time?

to be fair, i suppose we all need a reminder. there were many of those subtle points i attempted to convey, each lecture. it's hard to remember them all, even most of them ..

.. but on the other hand, can i really summarize all or most or a good dose of those comments in a last class or two? after all, it took me an entire semester to say all of them!

there must be a clever, happy middle.

then there are study strategies.

sure, some topics are important and others less important. some themes and types of problems occur again and again. that's usually a good sign of importance.

some topics are more difficult to put in the form of questions (that are easily graded) and they will likely not appear on exams.

i always felt these observations were obvious, but then again, maybe they are not. maybe students, when set to the mindset of studying for exams, simply ingest information and cease "thinking." maybe i should say these things anyway, to be sure.

there remains the problem of selecting what is particular hard or error-prone for my students, yet important and recurring.

but these are things i cannot fully know.
i teach these things: it's all the same to me.

"hard" is a word, a judgment, that only a student can say,
and i've never been good at mind-reading.

as always, i'll figure something out. here's hoping that i don't bore or frustrate the next generation of students ..

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