Course Evaluation

CCT 611

Fall 2001

Instructor: Peter Taylor

Part II

Write out neatly a synthetic statement (1 or 2 paragraphs) evaluating this course. (You might build on/build in your comments from the other side.) Please make comments both to help me develop the course in the future and to enable some third party appreciate the course’s strengths and weaknesses. (Imagine a reader who may not be willing to wade through all the notes on the other side, but is willing to do more than look at numerical averages.) Among other things you might comment on the overall content and progression of classes and the in-class activities.

  1. I felt that the course was successful in its aim to foster critical thinking about numbers. I found that as I progressed trough the course, while I did not always know exactly where I was headed next, I was often struck by the emergence of new areas of thought and interests along the way. I found the course to be engaging and stimulating both as a learner and as an educator. The in-class activities, while a little rough around the edges, were excellent with regard to achieving their goal and sparking critical thought pertaining to the material discussed. The professor was engaging and his intellectual curiosity is contagious. He was flexible and allowed enough freedom for individual creativity.
  2. I very mush liked the way questions were raised, approached and solved in this class. Very often in leaving class I have found myself wondering about something. For me, that is what makes a course an instrument for lifelong learning. I think the orientation toward problem-based learning associated with heuristics was excellent. The open-minded spirit, which prevailed in the classroom, contributed to a pleasant and almost stress-free environment despite deep thinking. The course could be improved with more reading on PBL, Heuristics and philosophy of education and their implications; all that in a critical fashion. The software for labs could be sent as well early on so that students can start playing with them before coming to class. That could make for a more meaningful lab and could spark more interesting issues (questions).
  3. I really liked using the spreadsheet as a tool to project different scenarios before making decisions. I really liked it because I have no used the spreadsheet for this purpose in the past. I also liked doing hands-on activity/lab so I can see what is happening. That was a very enjoyable experience. Doing problem-based learning project was also very interesting for me. I was stimulated since I was trying to understand what I was looking for. My final project was also an enjoyable experience filled with learning. One thing that was very disturbing was all the chaos that goes on outside the classroom. I felt it really affected my performance. I just didn’t feel together. One suggestion that I thought of is: Peter, if you get students to give other students feedback really early on in the class — starting with the mini-essay. I think it would be really helpful for the students to develop this skill.
  4. I believe that the strength of this course lies in advancing each student’s personal development. The class activities, readings and discussions all model tools and techniques that students can internalize and apply to their own interests. It is not a course about acquiring skills — it is a course about changing one’s view of numbers and their meaning. Through the essays and dialogues students reflect on class activities and advance their own thinking process. I think some students felt confused in the beginning because they were looking for a tangible skill that they learned. At some point, they realized that it was about them internalizing the ideas and it became less stressful. As a part of the masters program, but already with a Masters, my primary goal is growth. I think this was the right frame of mind for the course. Particularly effective was the PBL Unit. It was amazing how much we learned about researching and how much we learned from each other’s research. Also, the project process worked very well for me. I presented my draft, received feedback and used the feedback to extend my research and revise. Although it is easy to fall behind in work, I highly recommend that students follow the time-line. This was the first time I ever wrote a paper where I could improve it with feedback. It was very powerful for me! I really enjoyed this class and am excited to see how it plays out in my continued career in education. Interestingly, today I met with a Department head at a high school that said: "You seem to be asking all the important questions." I know this course played a role in that! THANK YOU J
  5. This course was invigorating and challenging for me. It encouraged me to stretch my thinking beyond the verbal and to appreciate the numerical where I had previously taken the quantitative too much for granted. The hands-on labs were practical and my comfort level, as well as skill level, increased each week with the well-planned lab activities. In the early classes I felt a bit lost and I thought there was something not quite connecting for me. Now, I’m not so sure how much was instructional and how much was my own discomfort with numbers. Perhaps more clarification in class about the direction we were going in would have helped, but overall I did arrive at a more comfortable place with a subject that I have always found confounding. Peter Taylor’s patience and steady directions were helpful and encouraging. I would heartily recommend this class to others! It is obvious to me that I am taking more of value with me into my classroom now that before I took this class.