Concerning your Comments
Thank you for all of your comments. I appreciate the compliments and encouragements, and also the concerns and suggestions. I will mostly reply to concerns and suggestions here. I always welcome more feedback.
“It would be good to have more/harder examples in class.”
Some students asked for fewer examples, but they were outnumbered by those who asked for more or more difficult examples. I would like to provide more difficult examples, and will try to do so. The order of priority and presentation is usually: 1) concept; 2) simple example; 3) more complex example. I don’t think this order can be rearranged, so the complex examples often get dropped in consideration of time. Consider: this is not necessarily a bad thing, as students will learn more from doing more difficult examples themselves as homework. Nevertheless, the more complex examples will increase as the course progresses, and I’ll try to choose very interesting and enlightening ones. I have noticed a few times now where I could have improved an example chosen for class, and I will keep this suggestion in mind in future.
Finally, I will just note that it is good that homework problems challenge you beyond what is covered in lecture, to synthesize the basic concepts into more nuanced understanding. Each step in the learning process should take you further, instead of just repeat.
“Less emphasis on proof.”
There has been some emphasis at the beginning of class on proof. That’s because some proofs are required (yes, there always will be some, as these are the best, most challenging way to assess understanding of concepts), and students always find them difficult. I intend to spend more time on proofs in the beginning, because I want to jump start you all into careful and precise thinking about mathematical concepts. Proof is not separate from problem solving: in fact, they both rely on the same skills. Real (instead of cooked up) problems that can be solved with calculus require the creativity of deriving new facts from known facts as part of their solution. So the study of proof is the study of problem solving. I don’t require that you have a research mathematician’s sensibility, or that you think proofs are pretty, but you should keep struggling with proofs, as they are an excellent way to improve problem solving and mathematical thinking skills all around.
That being said, the emphasis on proof will decrease somewhat, to make room for other things in lecture. They will still be required in homework, however. I’ve found that the art of proof is much more easily taught in office hour, in an interactive environment. So come visit me and I’ll happily work through some with you, in Socratic method.
“Marking is harsh.”
A couple of students said this. The marking is a little harsh, agreed, but not wantonly so. But that’s not a bad thing, necessarily, especially in view of the fact that grades are scaled. Yes, I’m requiring that you work hard at writing very clear solutions. This is a higher-level math course, where precision of exposition is expected to a higher degree, and working hard on this skill will bring you great benefits on your exams. I know you will all rise to the challenge. (And don’t be discouraged by a 12/15: just think of it as a 4/5!)
“More handing in of homework, less quiz.”
Ah, you don’t trust my dice, eh? I’ll think about adjusting the weighting, since I agree that we shouldn’t spend too much time on the quiz, and that having homework feedback is important. It is good to study your homework well enough to be tested on it, though.
“Sometimes I find it hard to hear you when people are coming in late. / Thanks for making people be quiet.”
To latecomers: don’t come late. To talkers: don’t talk. If you must come late, please talk to me about why (I have had one student do this, and I understand there are sometimes reasons, but we can’t have lots of people doing it). My father, who teaches university as well, just locks the auditorium doors at the beginning of class. I haven’t been that harsh, yet….
“The room is like a sauna.”
This has been reported to the appropriate university services. I didn’t realise: I guess I thought I was just sweating from the mathematical excitement.
Comments on Computer Graphing
Mixed reviews on the requirement for computer graphing. Overall, more people find it helpful than find it annoying. It’s meant to be a small part of the course, and will only be assigned as a small part of homework and no part of testing.
Comments on Homework
Mixed reviews on this. Some say too long, some say too easy, some say it’s not in synch well enough with lectures. I’m taking these suggestions into consideration. In general, I try to assign homework that will prepare you for exams.
“Can we have office hours on Tuesday?”
I wish. But I have a joint position at UBC and SFU and on Tuesdays I am doing research at SFU, generally. When possible to have some free time at UBC, I’ll announce an extra office hour. I’ll make some extra time the week of midterms.
Comments on Pace
Of those who commented, half said slower, half said quicker. This is probably good, because the pace is dictated by the syllabus, so I can’t do too much more or less than I’m doing.
What do you find hard?
Thanks for answering this; it’s always helpful. For those who gave specific answers, please come see me in office hour, and I’ll happily spend time going over whatever you’d like. The general themes of difficulty were: graphing, proofs, curvature, remembering old calculus, and computer graphing. I’ve helped students with all of these in office hours, which I will happily do more of, and I’ll also try to work some review into lecture as possible.