Thursday, September 20, 2012

My lessons learned/Decisions to be made going forward

I think it is somewhat ironic that we talked in class yesterday about things going wrong and then finding somebody to blame with that preceding almost immediately several students struggling with the homework because they put in numerical values rather than cell references, and then some of those students sending messages of irritation along with their submission key.

I wonder whether those students completed the Demo for Homework that we went over in class during the second week of the course.  There were exercises in that Demo specifically about this issue.  From where I sit either (1) I should have required everybody to do that and submit their result or (2) some people who did that nonetheless didn't take the lesson from it, so the demo needs to be redesigned.  I would appreciate getting comments on this as I really don't know what the explanation is for you.  If you prefer putting that in an email to me to further protect your privacy, that would be fine too.

I trust that on future homeworks students will use cell references so this issue, painful as it was this time around, will be behind us.  The next issue for me in designing the homework is whether on the math itself I'm spoon feeding you the answers too much and that it would be better for your learning if I didn't do that from here on out.  I get that the comfort with the math is somewhat heterogeneous in our class and some may prefer to leave as is.  I welcome your opinion on this issue too.

Let me say how the issue looks from where I sit.  There is an old idea of how students do math homework called "plug and chug" where students take an already given formula and plug in values into that.  It is a path to generate an answer without getting understanding about why the formula is useful.    So I'd like to steer students away from plug and chug  and am looking for suggestions on how to do it.

1 comment:

  1. I would also prefer to not have formulas given beforehand in excel homework. I think we can learn better if we figure out the mechanism of every problem by ourselves. It would also be a good way to test if we understand the reading.