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Friday, October 8, 2010

Memory is a funny thing

My sister is about to have a baby so I've been having lots of conversations with friends about the births of their kids, and my mom friends all agree that the brain simply doesn't remember the reality of labor. If it did, no one would ever have more than one kid. I've decided that my brain does a similar thing with new courses - I've prepped several new courses over the last twelve years, and at least two of those were courses with no textbook or roadmap available, like the data class I'm teaching now, and yet I've somehow blocked out how much time it takes to do this. Even though I did a lot of the groundwork over the summer, I'm still spending several hours a week filling in the details for each class meeting. Hence, there hasn't been a lot of time for blogging.

But although it's taking more time than I planned, I think things are going relatively well. The team-based learning approach definitely works well for the data analysis class, though it is sometimes hard to tell whether all the students are really 'getting it'. The post-group, all-class discussions are not quite as rich as I would like, both in the sense that no one seems to want to talk and when they do, it's the same few students who speak up. I'm not sure if that's because of something I'm doing, or not doing, or if students simply don't like speaking up in class, even if they know they won't be 'wrong'. When I walk around and listen to the groups, many of the quieter students do seem engaged in those discussions so I'm hoping it's just a 'don't want to speak up' thing. I've never been great at leading discussions; I should probably spend some time with Mike Salemi and Lee Hansen's book...

I'll try to post more regularly but just fyi, when I don't have time to write much, I still have been posting some links on the blog's Facebook page. And my PSA for the day: the American Economic Association is hosting a conference on teaching economics in June. The call for papers can be found here, and the deadline is November 1.