Mar

19

BwogSalon: Columbia Class Notes

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What better time to complain about discuss Columbia classes than today, when most of us are struggling to make the harsh transition from sleeping in to sleeping in the back of a big lecture? Our latest installment of BwogSalon features Columbia Class Notes, a new campus publication in which students do just that.  

Name of Publication: Columbia Class Notes

Edition: Volume I, No. I

Description: Columbia Class Notes is a student-run publication on academic affairs at Columbia. Class Notes aims to improve academic life by providing an open forum in which students, faculty, and administrators can constructively discuss various aspects of undergraduate education at Columbia.

Selected Article: “Organizing Beginning Math Courses at Columbia,” proposes an innovative new approach to structuring Columbia’s most popular class—Calculus I. Read it here.

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9 Comments

  1. Gaaah

    Why is it an issue to find more than two lecturers capable of teaching calculus? And since when has increasing class sizes been an appropriate way to correct deficient teaching?

    Aaron, I respect that you're attempting to improve an important course, but I don't agree that that's the way.

    It would be better to have more access to teachers, so yes, having professors available for recitation would help, but weren't those the professors you were removing from the classroom because they weren't effective communicators in the first place?

    Calculus should not be a difficult subject to teach - thousands of high schools do it effectively. There is no reason Columbia cannot find an appropriate number of professors (or students of the university) to teach Calculus 1. Ballooning class sizes are not the answer - clearer instruction in reasonable class sizes from all teachers (not to complain about my teacher - Professor Alper was one of the better lecturers I have had at Columbia) is the appropriate solution.

    I believe there are actually two issues here. The first is the overarching question of how can it be taught most effectively. Ideally, everyone learns all of the material expected of someone who has taken a Calc 1 class. This leads to an ideological dispute; namely, should a class, in which every student can learn all of the relevant material perfectly be curved. If you don't think it should be, then you've solved the issue once every student enrolled in Calc 1 can pass a course-wide test of appropriate difficulty. If, however, you think the exceptional students should have opportunities to differentiate themselves from the rest of the class, then you return to the problem of having students complain that some problems are more difficult than the material that was presented in class.

    • Anonymous  

      I thought the author's point is that you'd be removing the other professors from the lecture because they are not good lecturers. Perhaps they'd do better in a smaller group setting in which they can respond directly to specific questions and problems and not have to give a lecture.

      I think Aaron's solution is a good one. It's not perfect, but it's a lot better than the way the class is being taught now.

  2. Anonymous

    except all this is predicated on the basis that columbia actually cares about teaching...

  3. Actually  

    Even as a junior looking at classes, I found this publication very helpful, well-written, and insightful. While CULPA is always the litmus test for "is this class easy?" this is a much more intellectual alternative/supplement. Whoever came up with this idea-- way to go.

  4. Stupid  

    where can I read the full issue? Is there a link I'm missing?

  5. Anonymous

    There are paper copies at Lerner, John Jay, Furnald, Hartley, East Campus, Wien, and Carman. You can also find the link to the article below:

    http://columbiaclassnotes.wordpress.com/category/articles/

  6. Anonymous  

    I was in Kent earlier today and there are some copies near the door. I'm sure other buildings also have copies.

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