Responses to feedback from students to the department

Posted May 11, 2022:

  • Several responses were critical of the format of Calculus 1, in particular of different professors lecturing on different days, Sunday night lectures, and the Zoom format. 

We agree that these are important issues. This is a new class format introduced in Fall 2020 to cope with Covid restrictions and larger enrollments while still allowing active learning and 1-1 faculty interactions. Since this is a new format, we are still learning how to do it well. We have already switched away from multiple lecturers to one lecturer and introduced a second lecture time in order to spread new material over more classes. This coming Fall we have obtained permission from the registrar to offer 75 minute lectures rather than 50 minute lectures to further reduce time pressure in lecture. We are also continuing to look for alternatives that meet the needs of our student population with the resources we have. 

  • Students suggested greater care with the timing of office hours, in particular aligning them with homework due dates: office hours before the homework is due, not after. One respondent requested office hours at the end of the week so that students can ask questions while the content of the week’s classes are still fresh in their minds.

Timing of office hours, of course, depends on many factors, but we have reminded the faculty to be careful about the timing of office hours, and to consider coordinating office hours of the teaching staff in large, multi-section courses. 

  • Another response brought to our attention that our courses may be difficult for people with sensory issues as “...classes can sometimes become loud, such as during discussion groups, which is difficult for people with sensory issues like autism.”

We thank you for making us aware of this issue. We will ask students to refrain from being unnecessarily loud during discussion groups. We are also consulting with the StAAR Center on this. 

The StAAR Center also suggested that we be mindful of the fact that some students find strong overhead lights difficult. (Obviously, other students may find it hard to see without them.) And they proposed allowing students to take 5-minute breaks during class when that’s feasible. We are passing these suggestions on to all faculty. 

  • A respondent suggested making students aware of the space reservation system for study groups. 

We will send out e-mails regularly reminding all students taking mathematics courses that they can reserve space on campus for study group meetings.