Monday, April 20, 2009

Quick questions

I've got some random ruminations to share, in the wake of this past Saturday's lovely WAC/CAC (that's Writing Across the Curriculum and Communication Across the Curriculum, for those not in the know) Symposium at UNC Greensboro.

Please discuss, in the comments section, anonymously, if you'd like:

1. Why are faculty so fearful of assessment? Is it because of the work involved? Is it that they're just not sure how best to do it, or are they afraid of what they'll find if they do it right?

2. For those of you out there who are into math (faculty especially): when in life was it that you first fell in love with math? What is it about mathematics that drew you in, that got you hooked?

3. Are my homework committees working as well as they ought to? Is there a different model I might adopt that would make them more effective? (For what it's worth, I think they work more effectively in 280 than they do in the 400-level courses; while the 280 students don't often "get the right answer" from their committee-dwelling peers, they're exposed to multiple points of view on the same problem, which is ultimately far more important than getting the right answer anyway.)

4. For my students: just how busy are you? I get the sense that this particular Spring 2009 semester has been one of the most stressful on record, for faculty and students alike, and I suppose a lot of it has to do with the economic situation the world's found itself in, and the commensurate busyness it's forced on us all as we struggle to make ends meet by asking 1 plus 1 to be 3.

No due date, no page limit. Lemme have it.


Derek said...

1. I think that many faculty are wary of assessment, particularly the kind of program-level assessment that usually accompanies accreditation procedures, because it perceived to involve a loss of control and/or privacy regarding the courses they teach. We instructors tend to think of our courses as our own private worlds where we call the shots. Program-level assessment opens up those private worlds to some level of scrutiny, primarily by asking how they contribute to the overall program / major. That's a little destabilizing.

2. Easy answer: adding and subtracting fractions with different denominators back in third grade. That's when I figured out that I really liked math.

sjwillis said...

3. I'm really glad that you made the point in 280 that the committee doesn't necessarily get the right answer. I think a lot of the students (including myself) were under the impression that if the committee says the answer is right, then it's good enough for you.