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galactus
Advanced Member

USA
1464 Posts

Posted - 07/30/2006 :  05:26:32  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hello everyone:

I have just been offered my very first teaching position at a local community college. Teaching Intro to Statistics. I have excited about it, but somewhat apprehensive(as with any new job). Any pointers for a rookie?.
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sahsjing
Advanced Member

USA
2399 Posts

Posted - 07/30/2006 :  15:52:00  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Congratulations!

I have no experience in teaching community college. Maybe I should seek a part time job first. I once talked to a math department chair in a local community college. He said he got as many as 120 applicants for one openning that year.
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galactus
Advanced Member

USA
1464 Posts

Posted - 07/31/2006 :  17:10:39  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I've not taught before. I've been a surveyor and engineer in the past

, therefore, I have used math 'in the field' extensively. I have

been wanting to get into teaching as long as it was the right place

(no high school; I remember high school; I know what heathens they

are).

It's only part time for now. A proverbial foot in the door.

Thanks for the pointers.
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Subhotosh Khan
Advanced Member

USA
9117 Posts

Posted - 08/01/2006 :  09:11:17  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I taught as a TA in the university.

A kind professor gave me several pointers that worked for me.

- Always work from written objectives.
  - Write your objective from general to smallest possible bites, as    
    each days objective.
  - If possible set-up to have a small test(~10 minutes) everyday for                 
    those small bites(sum of which should count for 1/3 of 
    the grades - this ensures that they keep up with the given 
    work and come to class)and discuss the answer in the class.
    Use it as a teaching tool (If you want I can elaborate on this
    later).

- Four hourly tests - sum of which counts for 1/3 of the grades.

- One final test - 1/3 of the grade

- Never surprise the student - they will surprise you. That is, never
 put a question in the test - type of which they have not seen. Do not
 try to prove your superior talent during the test. Tests should be a
 measure of what your objectives were and how well did you teach those.

- After you write a test - take the test yourself, timing yourself.
 You should answer exactly how you expect the student to answer. You
 should take 1/3 the time you expect the student to take (i.e. you
 should finish an hourly test in ~20 minutes).

- You should have 85% of the students scoring 85% or higher (average
 of five hourly tests).



Edited by - Subhotosh Khan on 08/01/2006 09:16:37
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galactus
Advanced Member

USA
1464 Posts

Posted - 08/01/2006 :  09:49:00  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks, SK, I will definitely take this under advisement.
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Mrspi
Advanced Member

USA
998 Posts

Posted - 08/01/2006 :  10:03:59  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Congratulations, galactus!

I spent a total of about 10 years teaching part time in various college situations, ranging from vocational/technical schools (the equivalent of community college in the state I was living in) to four-year colleges. The atmosphere is totally different than in high school because almost every student is highly motivated. Those students who aren't motivated generally won't show up after the first few class sessions.

Subhotosh Khan has given you some excellent suggestions. You can't go wrong by following those! I'd add just one observation. You'll probably expect that since these are college students, they'll come prepared with the necessary skills for college classwork.....not true! And especially not true in a community college setting, where you'll most likely have students with widely varying backgrounds and some who haven't been in a classroom for many years. Keep your expectations high for what you intend to accomplish in your class, but spend some initial time assessing the skill level of your students. You may find it beneficial to establish some kind of review/remedial program, or study groups where the weaker students can work with better students, perhaps.

Students in community colleges are usually committed to obtaining further education, but not necessarily prepared for the rigor you might expect. Lots of them are scared to death, especially of math. I guess you can either be "mean" and tell them they've got no chance of passing, or you can try to work with them. In my experience, the latter approach is tons more work, but produces much more personal satisfaction in the end.

Anyway, best wishes for a great year, and for an "opening of the door" to more classes in the future.

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galactus
Advanced Member

USA
1464 Posts

Posted - 08/01/2006 :  10:24:24  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks for the advise, Mrspi. I am certainly not 'mean'. I will go above and beyond to help students because I like math and am sure I will enjoy teaching it. From what I understand, the tests are going to be done on 'blackboard'. The math chair is into technology; Excel is used extensively and perhaps Maple; I meet with him tomorrow morning to find out all the details. You said the students may be scared. Then we'll all be scared together. Being my first time, I must admit, I will be a little nervous of being in front of the class room. All sorts of things run through my head. I am confident it'll be fun and enjoyable, though. It doesn't start until the 30th of August, so I'll have time to psych myself up and prepare.

No, I do not necessarily expect the students to come prepared. I was a student in this same community college sometime back, myself. I know what it's like.
Thanks again.

Edited by - galactus on 08/01/2006 10:27:17
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tarragon
Advanced Member

Philippines
356 Posts

Posted - 02/18/2007 :  22:58:00  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hi.

I would like to share something here because my professor told me the same thing as what Subhotosh Khan have posted.

My professor told me that if I would become a teacher.. he told me that I should not be "one-step" ahead of the students (or should I?). What does he mean by that?
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tarragon
Advanced Member

Philippines
356 Posts

Posted - 02/19/2007 :  22:10:34  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks David.

So that's why our class went "crazy" when one of my former professors showed his "talent" in his lectures. We have to read tons of books just to understand him.
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tarragon
Advanced Member

Philippines
356 Posts

Posted - 02/21/2007 :  10:27:13  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hi David:

Thanks for your words. I'll keep that in mind.
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galactus
Advanced Member

USA
1464 Posts

Posted - 02/21/2007 :  12:28:54  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I just finished grading a test I just gave to a group of

Intermediate Algebra students in community college. The grades are

abyssmal.

One of the problems was "72 is what percent of 180". I thought that

would be an easy pointer for them. At least half

missed it. It's as if these students had never been in a math class

at all. This was all review from what they've had before.

They can't count change, check the mileage on their car, nothing

much at all. The answer seems to be throw more money at it.

American students are apathetic and spoiled. They don't want to go

to college, they don't want to work, they don't want to do anything

but keep their ear glued to a cellphone. When I ask them something

or for some input, I can't even get a nod. They won't give me any

feedback. They look like a bunch of cows staring back at me.

I don't know about this teaching thing. I believe it's pointless.

You can't teach a rock regardless of the money you give it.

Well, enough of a diatribe for now.




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the_hill1962
Advanced Member

USA
1468 Posts

Posted - 02/21/2007 :  17:32:47  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Subhotosh, where did you get the value "85%"? Is it from a "Normal Bell Curve"? I studied Z tables too long ago to remember the numbers. I guess I could go review it...
quote:
Originally posted by Subhotosh Khan
- You should have 85% of the students scoring 85% or higher (average
of five hourly tests).[/code]


Do you have any value for other scores?
15% should be scoring below 85% according to the above.
What about failing scores? What percent of the students should be failing?

Edited by - the_hill1962 on 02/21/2007 17:34:00
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the_hill1962
Advanced Member

USA
1468 Posts

Posted - 04/12/2007 :  07:43:48  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Good question pilly151.
The public education system in Texas plans on moving to a policy of 100% of students (excluding the 'severly mentally disabled') can get 70% average or better in the following courses:
1. Physics
2. Chemistry
3. Biology
4. Geometry
5. Algebra II
6. English Lit.
7. English Comp.
I found this out because I have been trying to refer a 9th grade girl to special education in math. She has never passed the state exam in the subject of math (the math test is given at each grade level starting in 3rd grade). In years passed, we have been able to code a student or two as "disabled" in one or more subjects. This allowed the student to take an alternative state test for that certain subject. We can not do this anymore. The reason is that the state is planning on implementing a policy that ALL students (excluding severly mentally disabled) will take ALL state exams at grade level. If their "school career" average on all accumulated tests is not 70%, then they will not get a diploma.
I am sure this won't be implemented for a while but in the mean time I feel bad for this one girl that probably won't pass the state math test this year. In two years, she will have to pass the EXIT level which includes Algebra2 material.
Questions that I have thought about in the way this new policy is going to be implemented.
a) will there be a minimum threshold grade where a student must retake a grade level test before continuing on and will the previous low score be 'dropped' (a few low scores of below 25% would make it impossible to achieve an average of 70% no matter how much they improve in the future)?
b) will there be a minimum score for any individual subject test or could a student bomb a certain test as long as they ace a few others?
quote:
Originally posted by pilly151

Having 85% achieve 85% or better seems high. Why? I can see roughly 50% at 85 or better. Are we just giving out A's nowadays?

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Subhotosh Khan
Advanced Member

USA
9117 Posts

Posted - 04/12/2007 :  13:36:57  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by pilly151

Having 85% achieve 85% or better seems high. Why? I can see roughly 50% at 85 or better. Are we just giving out A's nowadays?


That number is somewhat arbitray and it depends on the subject matter and objective of the test.

I was teaching engineering - where we want to make sure that those who are stamped as "passed" (proficient) can solve problems - and (arbitrarily) 85% of the time. Although passing grade was D (68%) - our job as a teacher was to make the student was proficient enough for 85% of the time (you really don't want to be a "victim" of an engineer who squeaked by with 70%).

In engineering getting 85% is straight-forward (unlike in liberal arts). If you know the material and you can present it - you should get 100% every time.

If you are grading for discriminating (as opposed to test proficiency) - then of course you bring in other tools like "grade curve", etc. I personally do not like curves - in sciences where you test problem solving capabilities (only certain types). In engineering college it is easier to insist on certain level of "proficiency" - since generally, we have motivated students (by money).

Edited by - Subhotosh Khan on 04/12/2007 13:40:35
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