Teaching 2012-2013

I taught the following courses during this academic year:

All of the course websites can be reached by clicking on the course titles above. This was the first time I taught any of these courses. A considerable amount of my time was spent on preparing lecture notes and other course related materials.

Additional teaching activities related directly to these courses included the following:

    • The use of WebAssign for online homework in MAC 2233.
    • The creation and maintenance class webpages for all courses, using regular HTML code.
    • The use of dropboxes on ANGEL for online homework in STA 2023

I am pleased to say that I am the first FGCU faculty member to be a Project New Experiences in Teaching (Project NExT) Fellow. As such, I attended the Project NExT seminars at the Joint Mathematics Meetings in January. This selective national program (78 participants nation-wide) offers teaching and professional development workshops for new faculty in mathematics.

Here are some reflections and comments about each course I taught this year. Focusing on what worked well, and what I would like to change the next time I teach it.

MAC 2233: Teaching two sections of this course in the fall of 2012 was a wonderful learning experience for me. While both classes went very well, I find it remarkable that the afternoon class did at least 7% better on each exam. In addition to my anticipating the students’ questions in the afternoon class, I also attribute this success to two other factors. First, the afternoon classroom had tables that all faced the front of the classroom, whereas the morning classroom had circular tables in a long narrow room, making it impossible for all of the students to clearly view the board or projector. The second factor was that the most vocal students in the afternoon class were some of the best students in the class. They really set the tone for the class. On the other hand, the best students in the morning session were very quiet, and the class just seemed to lack the energy of the afternoon class.

The use of Webassign for collecting online homework was crucial to the students’ success, and the students responded very well to the weekly individual/group quizzes I gave. (Each student had 10 minutes to complete their quiz; then, they would flip the paper over and work on the quiz in groups of 3-4. The students who understood the material explained it to their peers; while the students who did not understand the material had the opportunity to learn it from a peer.) I also held an extra one-hour MAC 2233 review session each Wednesday, which the students really appreciated, and I regularly had at least 20 students who attended the session.

MAD 3107: In addition to maintaining the course website, the student’s felt that the classroom was more conducive to Beamer (Power-point) lectures. Hence, I generated Beamer files of the lecture notes and uploaded them to the class website. Based on the comments that I collected from the class’s midterm evaluations, the students in Discrete Mathematics also seemed to like the weekly Individual/Group quizzes, where they could learn from their peers.

MAD 5206: This course was cross-listed as a graduate-level and undergraduate-level course in Combinatorics. There was only one graduate student and three undergraduates in the course but all were of exceptional quality. It was truly a pleasure to teach the material to that caliber of students. I based the course material off of a similar course I took at the University of Iowa, and I gave the students very similar midterms to the ones I took as a graduate student. I am pleased to say that, in my estimation, the FGCU students performed comparably if not better than those who took the course with me at Iowa.

MAS 3105: The biggest challenge in teaching Linear Algebra was there seemed to be at least two different types of students in the course. It was a challenge to cover the material at a pace and level of depth that would keep the impressively large number of extremely motivated and accelerated mathematics majors interested and learning, while not speeding past the considerable number of students who were taking the course because their major required it of them. My solution was to cover the material fairly quickly in class and assign a large amount of homework but also to offer a two-hour review session every Friday morning, where I worked through any questions that the students had. In the end, I think all of the students learned a great deal from the course and were pushed to work much harder than they may have had to in the calculus sequence.

STA 2023: Statistical Methods was by far the most challenging course I taught this year. The subject matter is not terribly difficult, but the text is not terribly interesting either. I followed the textbook very closely, because I had never taught a statistics course before. While I feel that the students walked away with a basic understanding of statistical methods, I do not feel that they gained an appreciation for the beauty of the science. Now that I have this experience, I will certainly incorporate many more real-world examples and try to breathe more life into the course as a whole.

Feel free to follow these links to course syllabi and SAI reports: