Saturday, April 19, 2014

Showing Students Where To Look

This is what I try to do when I teach, but I feel like the way we have things organized at Oxford and the frequent, persistent questions trying to get ultra-precise statements of what is "examinable" run counter to what I think is the best philosophy for how to teach. And the rules of the game that this university has established simply encourages (and, arguably, demands it in practice) such nonsense. So. Damn. Frustrating.


Anonymous said...

You try, but you fail, Mason. The reason you have so many students asking you what is "examinable" is that none of your students have any idea what you're trying to teach them. Maybe if your courses had a little bit more content and direction you wouldn't get so many people asking.

Mason said...

My students have tended to ask for less content, not more.

If you think that I am the only one to get such persistent question from the students here, then let me dispel that notion from you right now. (This is, of course, separate from other points you raise.) Such queries appear to be rather endemic.

We can discuss other points in person after all marks are final when anonymity won't need to be an impediment (should you choose to have such a discussion). I think that will be a good medium to have a good discussion.

Mason said...

I think it is also relevant to write what my goal is. This is something that I wrote in the 'Learning Outcomes' section of the course synopsis: Students will have developed a sound knowledge and appreciation of some of the tools, concepts, and computations used in the study of networks. The study of networks is predominantly a modern subject, so the students will also be expected to develop the ability to read and understand current (2013) research papers in the field. ['2013' should now be replaced with '2014', of course.]

So the litmus test is to whip out some networks papers being posted on the arXiv (and journals) this year and to see if the course material and recommended course resources that you have looked at in your studies to cement understanding (as is expected of all of our undergraduates) have prepared you to be able to go through them effectively.