Posted by: hrummel | November 4, 2008

Not so much a math blog

This is more of an opinion about the deadlines than a math blog. I think this falls under the category of “What, in the course, got you excited and interested? This is always a great topic”. I anticipate this to be the best blog post of the year. Instead of writing about what is interesting, I’m going to write about what I believe is a deficiency of the course that I was not able to express in the midterm evaluation. I believe there are far too many deadlines. I just missed a presentation the other day, and I think a part of it is because I’ve been feeling overwhelmed by the deadlines of the course. I think the work is doable and reasonable in terms of the amount of time it takes per week, but I think there are far far too many deadlines. A case study: my good friend Sandeep. Between presentations, blogposts, exploratory homeworks, and the quiz, he had something due nearly everyday this week. None of this was his fault, it was bad luck because the exuberant amount of deadlines due. Here is Sandeeps Math 152 schedule this week; Tuesday: Exploratory Problems due, presentation due, blogpost due, class. Wednesday: Midterm. Thursday: Class. That’s a lot of work for one week. Not to mention the reading project. What is that anyway?

Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate the idea that if you do all the work and do it well you will get a good grade, and I believe that all these deadlines are ways to help us make up our own minds about what grade we will get, but I think it’s a little excessive, and confusing. I’m worried that I’ll start missing deadlines even though I’m really trying hard, and need a good grade in order to get into Oxford. Therefore, I’m now going to present my ideas for helping with this overload and making the deadlines easier to get on top of, harder to miss, and/or feel less overwhelming.

-blogposts: remove the deadlines. Remind or request people during class time to post on blogs, and keep the number of blogs due but just make them all “due” at the end of the semester. I think this way people will do them when they have free time and won’t need to churn them out during the election watch party in Adams Dinning hall. I think this will also lead to higher quality blog posts as people will be posting when they have a good idea or a good post, and not simply when the deadline is due. I think this would vastly improve the blog post experience, and take a large load off the back of my mind.

-Exploratory homeworks: make them part of the problem sets. Although it would or could make the problem sets longer, I think it would make it easier if the exploratory homework deadline is the same as the problem set deadline. That way you don’t have a situation where there are two major things due each week, such as an exploratory homeworks and a quiz, or exploratory homeworks and a problem set, etc.

-Problem sets: see Exploratory homeworks.

-Quizzes: have them during class time. This way there will be a far lower probability of having to present in the same week as having a quiz/midterm, and we wouldn’t have to sacrifice an extra night per week taking the test. By this I mean that we sacrifice an afternoon of the quiz in addition to the few before the quiz where we are studying.

-Reading projects: Cancel them? I don’t know this is OK I guess…

-Presentations: have them in alphabetical order. That way I don’t get confused when Jim Bayley presents on one day and then the next class I, Henrik Rummel, have to present. This would make presentations far far easier to keep track of.

I think what I have outlined above would lessen the stress load of the course by making the deadlines easier to keep track of or harder to miss. The amount of work wouldn’t decline, but I think it would be easier to get on top of the same amount of work by better managing the deadlines.

Go Obama!


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