Right now, I have two sections of Calculus I for Life Science, two sections of Calculus II for Life Science, and one section of Business Math. That’s an overload. In exchange for teaching five in the Fall, I get to teach three in the Spring (four classes is full time at my university).
Part of the purpose of starting this blog in the fall, when I have next to no time, is to reflect in advance for the Spring, when I will have time (and energy) to experiment with my classes.
So the first thing that I should probably consider is: What do I really want my students to get out of my class?
It’s actually an interesting question. Obviously, there’s specific math content, but there’s plenty of stuff in addition to that. For several years, I’ve been putting the following on all of my syllabi:
In addition to the content objectives above, throughout this course we will be working towards several overarching goals. These goals include, but are not limited to:
• Problem-solving skills. We will be tackling problems without being told exactly how to solve them, by applying the skills we have learned.
• Metacognitive skills. We will be analyzing the way we think and articulating our thought processes.
• Communication skills. We will be communicating complex ideas in precise language.
These skills should serve you well, not just in future math classes, but in a variety of settings that you are likely to encounter.
Looking at this now, it occurs to me that these are skills, not goals. Well, the goal is to build and strengthen the skills I suppose.
Honestly, I’ve been using the same “Course Goals” for all of my classes since I was a grad student. It’s time for a rewrite, and I’m trying to think what I want to include. I do plan on tweaking them slightly based on the class (at the time I wrote the goals above, I was teaching developmental math, so every student was going to have to take a college-level math class after that). But I’m don’t think the tweaks will be large, since these are actually goals that I work on in all of my classes, although the emphasis may be different.
I do work on other goals as well, but I’m not sure I need/want to add them to our first class day discussion of what to expect in the class (which is what I use my syllabus for– I don’t actually photocopy the whole official syllabus. There’s too much university- and legislature-mandated crap in there. I put that up on the course TRACS site, and they can download that if they need it.)
Other skills we work on include technology, technical reading (stealing that name from Mylène ), studying strategically, being a independent learner… I know there are more, but I can’t really think of them at the moment. I suppose I’ll come back and comment if they pop into my head.