Friday, May 1, 2009

A bit about teaching

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One of the metrics I use to see how experienced a teacher is and/or quality of teaching is how long the teacher waits for the students to respond after asking "Does anyone have any questions?"

The inexperienced teachers tend to be nervous and would fill in the silence after less than one second, whereas more experienced teachers might wait 4~5 seconds. (Waiting longer could also lead to more girls participating, but that's another issue for another time... Link to this book contains info which merits serious discussion... ahem Chapters 3 and 6 ahem)

My power electronics prof always waits more than 4 seconds every time (I counted), where as the intro electronics class prof (whom I TA for) usually waits for less than 3 seconds.

There could be other factors as well. Maybe it's just impatience. One time the prof (latter) told the class that the extensive lab reports should be kept short and concise, "not like a novel". And then, "my wife is writing a novel, but I have no interest in reading it!" Besides the obvious point that he doesn't like reading long-winded stuff, it also sends a message that he tends toward the unreceptive... which mirrors what another student told me secretly earlier in the semester that this prof (department head) is a traditionalist who likes to leave things as they are, and not improve on them, as long as they "sort of work".

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