Thursday, July 18, 2013

ARR! the good fight.

first, the student side: this is so cool. the idealist in me wishes for all education to be free, and in some places it's still possible;

it's nice to see that part of that might still be kept alive.
"A unique aspect of the Cooper Union case is that several of the students fighting for the cause have already graduated, and remaining undergraduates still won’t have to pay tuition while they’re students. The reason the students have been sleeping in the president’s office for the past two months is because they fear what will happen to the school after they leave, how a decision to charge tuition might affect the character of the incoming classes and the direction of their alma mater."

~from "Can Cooper Union Find A Way To Continue Free Tuition And Its Social Mission?" @fastco
now, the faculty: when i was in the middle of my ph.d. i recalled a fellow student say the worse the teacher, the more students have to work and the more they have to learn. this was in response to seeing how neurotically i was writing my lectures, so that my students could learn in the most effective way possible.
thinking about it now, i must have been the calculus version of a helicopter parent ..! \-:

anyway, that came to mind when i read the following excerpt. apparently some students do react that way (in extreme cases).
"I had a teacher in college whose lectures were so incredibly clear that it made me think physics was the easiest thing in the world. Until I went home and tried to do the problem set. He was truly amazing, but sometimes I think he was TOO good. I didn't struggle to understand his lectures--but maybe I should have."

~ from "Do the Best Professors Get the Worst Ratings?" @psytoday
there's more:
"When you measure performance in the courses the professors taught (i.e., how intro students did in intro), the less experienced and less qualified professors produced the best performance. They also got the highest student evaluation scores. But more experienced and qualified professors' students did best in follow-on courses (i.e., their intro students did best in advanced classes).
To summarize the findings: because they didn't teach to the test, the professors who instilled the deepest learning in their students came out looking the worst in terms of student evaluations and initial exam performance.
on a related note: over the course of my career thus far, i've learned from various occasions to be wary of those instructors whose evaluation scores are too high, almost perfect.

lauding your first-year mathematics instructors is a little like thinking that your parents did a perfect job raising you while you are being raised through childhood. i don't deny that students have good, discerning taste .. but it's hard to accurately judge how someone is conveying lessons to you when you don't completely understand the lessons in question!

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