The calm before the storm November 25, 2012Posted by mareserinitatis in computers, engineering, teaching.
Tags: office hours, programming, students, teaching
I teach on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This past week was Thanksgiving, so I obviously had a bit of a dilemma. I don’t like getting the classes out of synch because that means I have two different preps to complete. The obvious solution, therefore, is to just cancel class during the week of Thanksgiving, and that is exactly what I did.
However, I’ve changed one of the assignments in the class from optional to required. You may remember that last year, I talked about Engineers Who Don’t Like to Program. I discovered that the majority of my students would rather do a presentation than learn how to program. I decided this year to change that. Instead of having two optional programming assignments, I moved some things around so that there is one assignment, very scaled back from what I had expected last year, and it was required to pass the class.
I had a lot of intimidated students, but I think cutting the length back significantly made them less afraid. I chose to have two weeks in the computer lab to work on the assignment. They ended up being the week before Thanksgiving and the week after. In the meantime, I decided to add an extra office hour during one of the cancelled classes so that students could come and ask me questions.
Not surprisingly, no one showed up. I’ll have to remind them of this when I have an flurry of requests from students needing extra help right before the assignment is due.