Course Reports

Category archives for Course Reports

Critical Pronunciation Poll

I’m using Dava Sobel’s Longitude this week in my timekeeping class. The villain of the piece, as it were, is the Reverend Dr. Nevil Maskelyne, who promoted an astronomical method for finding longitude, and played a major role in delaying the payment to John Harrison for his marine chronometers. It’s a good story, with lots…

I’m fairly certain somebody has already done this, because it’s such an obvious idea. It’s a little beyond my cargo-cult VPython skills right at the moment, though (I can probably learn to do it, but not right now), and I none of the applets I Googled up seemed to be doing this, so I’m posting…

How to Present Scientific Data

In the same basic vein as last week’s How to Read a Scientific Paper, here’s a kind of online draft of the class I’m going to give Friday on the appropriate ways to present scientific data. “Present” here meaning the more general “display in some form, be it a talk, a poster, a paper, or…

I reported on the start of this class last week, and sinc ethen, we’ve had three more class meetings. Since this whole thing is an experiment, I’ll keep reporting on it from time to time (heh). First, though, a quick answer to a request from comments: I’d like to hear more about your class on…

How to Read a Scientific Paper

My course this term is on time and timekeeping, but is also intended as a general “research methods” class. This was conceived by people in the humanities, where the idea of generic research methods makes a lot more sense than in the sciences (where there’s a lot more specialization by subfield), but I’m going to…

As mentioned a few times previously, the class I’m teaching this term is a “Scholars Research Seminar” on time and timekeeping. As this is an entirely new course, and will be consuming a lot of my mental energy, I plan to post occasional reports on what I’m doing to the blog. Today was the first…

Academic Poll: Day One

It’s the first day of class today (for me, anyway– classes technically started yesterday, but I don’t teach on Tuesdays this term). This, of course, means that something will go horribly wrong. The question is, what? What will go wrong on the first day of class today? This is a class for first-year students, so…

My class this term is a “Scholars Research Seminar” with the title “A Brief History of Timekeeping,” looking at the science and technology of timekeeping from prehistory through modern atomic clocks. This is nominally an introduction to “research methods,” though the class operates under a lot of constraints that fully justify the scare quotes, at…

The Problem With Lectures

Yesterday’s physics education post kicked off a bit of discussion in a place I can’t link to about the usefulness of lectures. Something in that reminded me of an anecdote from my grad school days, that I think is useful, so I’ll post it here. When we were working on the spin-polarized collision experiment, we…

Active Learning Experiment: The Aftermath

As I said last week, I recently wrapped up a term experimenting with “active learning” techniques in the two intro courses I was teaching. The diagnostic test results were a mixed bag– one section showed really good improvement in their scores, the other was no better than the same class with traditional methods– and the…