Midterms done!

I am done marking midterm exams and I posted the results well before the course drop date. Since results were quite good with a class average of > 60% (no significant difference between day and evening sections) I hope that not too many students will drop. The results are certainly (significantly!) better than CHEM-217 last semester and there are several reasons for it:

  • Class size is smaller – quite a few students, who failed CHEM-217 did not take CHEM-218
  • Strategic learning classes helped a few to get a better understanding of the material
  • In-class exercises helped to show that the material covered is not easy; at least not as easy as it seems, when you are guided through it by the instructor

Especially the last point is one that I have heard last semester and in evaluations that the exams were more difficult than the examples discussed in class. Since I profoundly disagree 😉 , I tried to provide more in-class examples and more importantly, in-class assignments that students try to solve for themselves before discussing it through a peer instruction exercise and answering the remaining questions in class. Overall I am quite happy about the improvement.

3 Weeks into the new semester…

… and here is the first post, which kind of summarises my work so far: Well, the good  news is that I managed to finish marking my exams in 2007 – so I could concentrate on the lectures that I teach this semester. The bad news is that this semester started on Jan 3 already, so not much of a break. I did find a couple of days, however, to relax and recharge my batteries. Concerning teaching, things are running a lot smoother. I have only 2 courses to teach and taught these already last year. So the framework of the lecture is set up and running quite smoothly. There are, however, a few things that I have changed, especially in my approach to help students learn a bit better (at least I hope that is going to be the case):

  •  I have initiated Strategic Learning Sessions, which are small group sessions with senior student leader held 3x/week. Problem solving and discussion of lecture topics make up these sessions. So far feedback was encouraging and attendance is growing.
  • I have added elements of peer instruction into my lectures in order to foster better understanding of the concepts taught. Feedback from students was positive and I will continue to add these exercises from time to time.

Lots of news on the research side of things as well – but these have to wait a little longer.