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Course Content and Course Management

Course management can be delicate, particularly when you are revolutionizing the course content. For the first year engineering mathematics courses (AM026 and AM025), when I was the program director in charge of both courses, I used the methods of the previous director (Paul Sullivan) to attempt to ensure that morale was high among the five instructors and six TA's involved. The TA's were selected as an `elite' group, ``Team 26'', and given encouragement and incentives (the most effective being that they were treated as colleagues) to put in the extra work required for this TAship, as opposed to some of the easier TAs which usually only involved marking. Morale among the faculty is an issue, too; it is clearly more work to use technology creatively in class than to use traditional methods.

Resource management. In several courses (not just first year engineering mathematics), software and hardware have to be managed. This means researching and selecting the appropriate technology, making sure that all components are available (in some cases raising money for the purpose), working with lab managers such as Barry Kay in Engineering, learning how to use the technology properly, training TA's and colleagues if necessary, running extra tutorials for the students, debugging and troubleshooting, and finally developing curricular materials that make all this extra effort worthwhile.

Student Feedback. This university has a formal mechanism for student feedback about the courses via teaching ratings, which I find useful. However, I have found it even more useful to ask for written feedback during the course (informal, spoken feedback is also fine, but many students prefer anonymity and/or time for reflection). I have habitually asked the students, twice a year, to take a half-hour out of lecture time and write their comments down. For the AM026 students, I often write a bunch of topics on the board (e.g. ``what do you like least about the calculator? What do you like most?'', etc) as hints, but I have found it better to let the students write freely. This is the way we discovered that the students wanted (nearly uniformly) more instruction in programming, for example.



next up previous
Next: Student Supervision Up: Innovations Previous: Objective indicators



Robert Corless
Fri Jan 9 10:26:41 EST 1998