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Topic: Homework/First Day
Replies: 1   Last Post: Aug 19, 1996 6:52 AM

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Bob Hayden

Posts: 2,384
Registered: 12/6/04
Homework/First Day
Posted: Aug 18, 1996 9:38 AM
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First, a question regarding homework. Is it better to assign small amounts of
daily homework or more significant problem sets every week or so? Desiring to
be a "non-typical" math class I'd like to avoid the drudgery of daily
homework. In addition, the book I am using (M+M) gives problems only after a
large amount (>1 or 2 days) of material. Is it possible to get by without
daily HW? Please let me know.


Teaching in college, I find that students have no work planning
skills. No matter how often you collect stuff, they try to do it
right before it is due. This just does not work for a lot of my
projects. If they go into the computer lab without understanding the
underlying statistics, they have little hope of getting the computer
to do anything worthwhile for them. So, what do you do about this?
The easy road is to never assign anything that can not be successfully
completed using the study skills they already have. A harder task is
to try to get them to develop better study skills. As someone who
came from industry to academia, I have to say that there are not a lot
of real world problems that can be solved the night before they are
due. However, I have not been very successful at getting my students
to change their ways.

To get back to your question -- I think students need a mix of simple,
routine problems done on a daily basis, along with larger tasks that
take several days to complete AND ARE DONE OVER THE COURSE OF SEVERAL
DAYS. Otherwise, the only difference between four problems a day and
twenty problems a week is that they can't finish twently in one night.

The intro. stats. book by Siegel and Morgan has lots of embedded small
exercises as you go along and might be a resource for anyone who wants
such exercises.


Second, does anyone have any great 1st day activities? Something that will
make them intereted, yet not require many skills.

Thanx alot,
Josh Tabor
Wilson HS
Hacienda Heights, CA

----- End of forwarded message from Josh Tabor -----


There's always the classic of giving them a questionnaire and
collecting data about them. A little slower but potentially more
interesting is to tell them a little about data and data gathering and
then have them write and submit questions that you collate into a
questionnaire to be distributed at the next class meeting. In either
case, it's impressive if you can summarize the results right before their
eyes immediately upon collecting the questionnaires.

Another technique I learned from Laurie Snell is to bring in copies of
a recent news article involving statistical issues. He might first
give you what USA Today has to say about a new medical breakthrough,
then the NY Times, then the Journal of the A.M.A. The next day he
might bring in a letter to the editor of the NY Times from a doctor
raising questions about the methodology of the study. You often
cannot settle the substantive issues with this approach, but you sure
can convince the students that statistics deals with substantive issues!

| | Robert W. Hayden
| | Department of Mathematics
/ | Plymouth State College
| | Plymouth, New Hampshire 03264 USA
| * | Rural Route 1, Box 10
/ | Ashland, NH 03217-9702
| ) (603) 968-9914 (home)
fax (603) 535-2943 (work)

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