I tend to learn new skills using a variety of techniques: sometimes I will take a course, at other
times I will read a book, ask someone else for information, or even search the web. To learn
new technical skills, I find that it always helps to have a project in mind because it makes
me focus on what I need to learn. Since the content of the courses I teach is mostly technical, I
design these courses so as to provide a variety of learning modes and some concrete projects
for which students will apply theory that has been discussed in class and/or
discover information they need to know in order to complete the project.
To make the learning experience more varied, I also provide opportunities for both group work and
individual work in all the courses I teach: in some instances, it is important to be able to
discuss problems with others; in other cases, students will not learn a specific skill
unless they completely work it through by themselves.
This mixed mode approach is represented in the format of the courses I teach.
All courses will have most of the following elements:
Lectures: I stand in front of the class, ask students questions, and try to get them to
discover for themselves what comes next. When this doesn't work, I fill in the blanks.
Tutorials: same as lectures except that the class sizes will be smaller, the content
more specific (a program or a proof), and thus I expect to work less and have the students
take an even more active role.
Labs: students are assigned a small project. As they work through it, often in groups, they
should be discovering part of the material in the course or learning a very specific skill.
I usually provide a quick explanation of the lab at the beginning, and am available to
answer questions or provide hints during the rest of the period. At the end, students have to
hand in a short report, usually within a week after the lab.
Assignments: these are small projects that are usually done individually. The purpose
of an assignment is to consolidate knowledge covered during the lectures by applying it
to produce interesting work. Assignments are done outside of class hours. Students are
usually given at least two weeks to work on the assignment, and are expected to start working
on it as soon as they receive it.
Papers: students have to do some research, then write up the results. ESL students
or students who don't like writing are encouraged to use the services of the
Projects: this is work that is so complex or time-consuming that it must be done
in groups. Projects are usually assigned midway through the term and due at the end of
Exams: exams are intended to verify that students have actually learned the material
in the course. Students who study regularly during the term should not learn much out of exams,
but most students unfortunately simply cram before the exam. Hopefully the knowledge acquired this
way doesn't simply evaporate right after the exam.
This page is maintained by Sophie Quigley, e-mail:
Monday, 16-Jan-2017 21:27:28 EST