Thursday, January 20, 2005

Board-writing versus PowerPoint

I use PowerPoint for my W1111 lectures. What's wrong with board-writing? Do I hate chalks? I sure don't! My clothes don't like chalks, especially the black ones, but I am okay with chalks. Actually, I really feel writing on the board slow down the lecture and will actually make the lecture clearer to the students. However, on the same time, I hate to turn my back to my class and I hate to watch my students copying down my board-writing. I think notes-taking is a very positive way of learning during lectures. But notes-copying is not. I am trying to balance between the board-writing and PowerPoint by putting definitions and graphs on PowerPoint, while things I would like my students to actually write down on the board. I think it works okay except my lecture preparation becomes longer.

Monday, January 10, 2005

The "STATS" book of Dick De Veaux

The coming semester will be my first time to teach out of De Veaux's famous "STATS" book. When I was using Moore & McCabe, I sometime got bored when reading the book, even it is a good and classic textbook. So, when I was flipping through De Veaux's book last year, I was immediately attracted to the witty jokes throughout the book. Being a big fan of comic strips, I really enjoyed reading every single of those used in the book. However, when I actually sat down to prepare for my first lectures, I found I can't skim the pages as I used to do. I really need to read the book! Wow.

It will be some shock to the students.

Teaching intro stat again?

In one week, I am going to start another semester of intro stat teaching. As much as I enjoy doing research in statistics and teaching statistics to students, I find it hard to motivate students, especially in an intro stat class. I have been thinking about it since last week, after I read about several comments from former w1111 students complaining about the boring lectures, useless assignments and lame projects. It won't be completely exaggerating to say that I have poured my heart in when teaching intro stat. So I was a little bit hurt when reading those comments, even though they may only represent less than half of the class.

It is natural for someone to seek shared compassion towards the subject out of his/her class of students, especially when the class is supposed to be young, curious and full of energy. In some cases, it is not that difficult. Students who would sign up for a semi-advanced mathematics class must at least have enjoyed most math classes they have taken. The fact that w1111 can be used to fulfill science requirement for undergraduates always make me wonder how many of my students actually care about the subjects, and how many just come to get an easy A. Such doubts sometime get in the way of my teaching. Maybe in the future, they should make a CVN version of intro statistics course and those who don't care too much about the course can just take the course without getting out of their rooms (are the videos online now?). This way, they get what they want in a much enjoyable way and our department can save the instructors and TAs for a more-motivated audience and no one's feelings will be hurt.

For now, I am getting myself motivated.