Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Slides versus booklets (UKPSF: A1, A2, K2, K4)

At the staff student committee for one of the courses I teach, the students  asked about the booklet for the course. In the earlier course, they are given written notes, like a mini text book for the course. I do put my slides on Moodle. And now I have started taping the course with the new lecture capture system, which has been installed in some of the lecture rooms, here at Plymouth University.
In this post, I discuss some of the issues, with this feedback from  the students.

I was an undergraduate student in the middle 80s and a graduate student in the early 90s. The lecturer would write on the board and we would copy that down. I can only remember one person who used computer made slides. He claimed he had some kind of shoulder problem, so he couldn't write on the board. I really enjoyed his lectures, but that was because they were on group theory. Essentially us students would copy from the board the notes.

When I first presented some lectures at Liverpool, I was given some notes with a bit of theory in them and some examples. I would write them on the board and the students would copy them down. I did some small experiments with latex slides for a couple of weeks, but it was too much work to prepare. When I was a tutor at Glasgow for the second year physics students, I noticed that most lecturers were putting slides on Moodle.

However, at Plymouth, for the first course,  I was given a booklet of notes. It wasn't very clear what I was meant to do with it. The students would get the notes and then I would write them on the board as well. Now that I watched a couple of staff lecture, it is clearer what is happening. The lecturer, presents some examples and a bit of theory, in a similar manner to what is in the notes. But the notes are the definitive copy of the material. There is always some interactive part of the class, where a basic problem is set.

Last year, I talked to teaching staff at Liverpool and Edinburgh. They are still presenting material in the traditional write on the board model.I was told, that some of the staff in the Mathematical Sciences Department at Liverpool, were told by students, that they prefer the black board methods over powerpoint.

What I don't like about the use of the notes, is the presentation material is not always logically presented. The lectures have always been engaging, but in one I watched, the entire class had problems solving a very basic question.

The course I am teaching has never had a course booklet, so I don't have time to write a book.
I will try and write something based on the basic equations needed in the course.

This post deals with A1, A2, K2 and K4 from the UKPSF