Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Negligent Blogger is Negligent

Things have been a bit quiet around here lately, partly because things have been rather unquiet offline. The course I'm TAing has multi-week labs, and the last one was a doozy. It was a complicated set of experiments, with numerous equipment failures, concepts the students had never encountered before (ferroelectricity) and they had to share data across groups and sections. We TAs had some major communications SNAFUs, so the data formatting was horrendously inconsistently, and labeling was inconsistent at best. All of this results in many, many more student emails of "I can't find ____ on the course site". The reports have been turned in at last, and are sitting in an imposingly large pile on my desk. 14 reports shouldn't be a full ream of paper, but conciseness is a concept that continues to elude them.

The last lab of the semester is on mechanical properties of materials, and so far, things are going much more smoothly. I swear the lab gremlins demand a certain number of things be broken each lab, but thankfully, they can be satiated with intentional fracture. I'm sure it has nothing to do with the fact that I'm vastly more comfortable with this equipment, or that there is considerably less jury-rigging involved with our setups... nope, nothing at all.

1 comment:

  1. I TAd a class that sounds like it was organized very much like this one (dramatically different subject). We did these big, involved labs on rather complicated concepts and then the students had to write these long-ass reports that mostly sucked. It was too much for them to deal with learning the ecogeoscience concepts, figuring out how to handle and display the data, and communicate it in an effective way. Shorter, more frequent reports would have certainly been better.

    And man, did I learn a lot about how to craft an assignment. At this point, the course I'd most like to teach is science writing for advanced students in my discipline.