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Friday, January 29, 2010

Moment of weakness

Given that my last post mentioned how I let teaching prep consume whatever available time I have, I did something incredibly stupid (but I guess also incredibly collegial) earlier this week: I agreed to teach a new course next year. Because of budget cuts (which, by the way, seems to be the most-used phrase in the CSU community these days), my department will have almost no lecturers next year and the full-time faculty are going to have to step up and teach a bunch of classes that haven't been taught by full-timers in years. A side effect is that most of us are going to have to actually teach three sections, if not three preps. Although we technically have a 3-3 load, the majority of the tenured and tenure-track faculty in my department have had a de facto 2-2 for several years because any class that is larger than 120 students is treated as two of our three classes. But there are only a handful of classes that can be taught in the large sections so we are going to start rotating who gets to teach those and the rest of us will have to teach other courses. And since my department is heavy on applied microeconomists, there are some classes (like labor and public finance) that multiple people have already prepped and would prefer to teach again. One class that no one wanted to teach is a data and statistics course; it's somewhere in between lower-division statistics and econometrics, heavy on using excel, and is a required course for all our majors. We hired an econometrician a few years ago specifically because we wanted the class taught by a tenure-track person but after teaching it for several consecutive semesters, she needs a break.

So I volunteered to do it, partly because I figure it would be good for me (that whole 'you never really understand something until you teach it' thing) and partly because no one else was interested in doing it. There just seems to be something wrong if there's a course that we require of all our majors and yet, we can't get any full-time people to teach it. The person who has been teaching it the last few years has offered to give me her notes and slides so I'm not starting from ground zero completely but I know myself well enough to anticipate that a lot of my summer will be spent re-designing the whole thing. So when I start complaining, please remind me that I volunteered for this...

2 comments:

  1. Since I know you teach with clickers, you might find some of the statistics clicker question banks on the Project Math Quest site helpful as you prep this course. I'm sure your course is fairly different from a traditional math department stats class, but the clicker questions might serve as inspiration if nothing else.

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  2. Thanks Derek! I definitely plan to use clickers and this looks like a great resource!

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