Not even wet yet

Jan 21 2010 Published by under Uncategorized

Here I am finishing up my Syllabus for teaching this semester and I am already being hassled about teaching in the fall. I don't have anything that I am responsible for in the fall, so my options are either to design my own course or teach an existing one. By "teach an existing one" I mostly likely mean teach a section or part of a section of the mega intro course. There's pros ad cons to both.

Teaching my own course would mean that I could control all the content and teach only what I want to. It would also mean that I would take on fewer students (probably 30ish). BUT, there is a push right now avoid developing specialized advanced course, and instead target new courses at hooking freshman into science. Therefore, I would be building a course that would be taking research from my field and applying to what freshmen understand. On the surface this sounds easy, but in practice it might completely suck.

Being propped up in front of 300 or so students to teach an intro course is not my idea of fun, but the material is all laid out already and it would require 1/10 the preparation. I also wouldn't have the grading to deal with that would result from a smaller course and it would tick the "taught a big class" box in the departmental mindset of what people need to do before tenure. This is not something I feel I have to check off at this point, so this is a minor advantage.

Having not taught either type of course, I don't know what the time commitment is for each, but I would assume that the larger course that is already laid out would be less. Thus, I am tempted by the path of least resistance on the teaching front. OTOH, a smaller course of my design would clearly be more fulfilling and make the Dean happy because it fills the New Teaching Mandate that is being pushed.

Maybe I'll flip a coin.

8 responses so far

  • Alyssa says:

    Hmm...creating a course sounds great, except that is has to be for 1st years. I'm not sure what I'd do either, but I'd probably lean toward creating a new course. Good luck deciding!

  • Anonymous says:

    You'll have plenty of time later (yeah right) to devote time to a specialized course after a few big grants under your belt. Go the easy route with the big intro course, you have bigger fish to fry right now.

  • Anonymous says:

    do the big lecture. you are only teaching your first course this semester, so it will take you a few courses before you can get a feel for developing a new one. new courses suck you dry. spend your brain energy cranking out the papers and proposals. jc

  • Genomic Repairman says:

    Can you teach your own course next spring or the following fall? If not then teach it this fall.

  • Natalie says:

    Are you looking to recruit undergrads for summer sessions? BigAss Intro Class will serve to introduce you to the keeners who would be applying for scholarships next year. Minor advantage, I realize.

  • Prof-like Substance says:

    AND, I might get my one ratemyprofessor page, which is really the end goal here. It may be harder to actually recruit kids in such a big class, but I would certainly get my name and research interests out to the students at an early stage of their time here.

  • Ink says:

    Oh, I FAR prefer teaching courses of my own design than the existing ones. But JC's right --they suck you dry with the prep. Then again, every class we teach for the first time sucks us dry. AND if you LOVE the material (i.e., it's related to your research and of special interest to you), it's FAR easier to put in the hours required. And more enjoyable. So I'd go for the New! All New! choice...

  • Anonymous says:

    I just taught my own first intro lecture course. Actually, I co-taught an already designed course similar to what you're talking about. I found that although the topics were already laid out, I didn't always like how the information had been presented previously, so I ended up redoing all of the lectures to match my style and how I wanted to present the material. Of course, as soon as I revised the lectures, then all of the quizzes, study materials, etc all needed to be revised too. It may have been "easier" than designing my own class (the other class I teach only has a small lecture component), but it was a lot more work than I expected it to be!

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