On the first day of my econometrics class in the fall I told my students that I had never taught a large lecture class before. I told them we were going to be trying many new things and might need to make changes on the fly. And I told them I was probably going to learn as much as they were. It was all true.
- Props are a fun way to get students’ attention. I’d like to do more of this next year.
- Getting and responding to feedback early is a very effective way to recover from mistakes. And everyone makes mistakes.
- Collecting and analyzing data from the class (e.g., attendance, video lectures, study habits, gender differences) was really fun even if it was sometimes hard to interpret the results.
- Piazza discussion forums let students ask questions any time and learn from everyone’s answers. Allowing students to post anonymously was a big net positive.
- Recorded lectures (via Echo360) allowed some students to watch class when it was convenient and allowed most students to review material during the semester and before exams.
- Canvas (by Instructure) was a big step up from what I’ve used before, but needs to be more closely tied into Yale infrastructure.
- Nontraditional review sessions before the midterm and final exam where we worked together on harder problems that combined several topics worked well.
What needs work:
- Data analysis labs were a great 1.0 product, and I’m excited to fine tune them into a better 2.0 product next year. The first few labs were too long, and they need to be linked more closely to what we do in lecture. Some folks never get a second chance to make a first impression, but professors get a clean slate every semester!
- I randomly assigned students to different rooms for the midterm exam and learned something about how location affects performance. I’d like to do more experiments like this (running them by the IRB first of course).
- I used clickers to get students involved and get feedback on what they were learning during class, but there’s so much more I can do with them next year. Individual measures of attendance would be great. I’d also like to see how in class performance correlates with exam performance.
- A couple times I had more material than I could reasonably cover during class, and I stubbornly cranked up my speed to finish. Don’t do that.
What comes next:
- I still have quite a bit of class data to analyze. I’m curious how study habits changed in the second half of the semester and how these changes were reflected in their final exam scores. I haven’t looked at quiz scores, problem sets, or their performance on the big empirical project either. I’m curious which students did better (or worse) on which kinds of problems on the exams. It would be great to find some ways to identify students in trouble early so I can intervene early and try to get them back on track.
- After six months of life, this blog is outgrowing its original design–There’s too much useful content that’s completely buried.
- I’m incredibly excited to be starting a teaching podcast with a good friend–Stay tuned for more about this soon.
- And, ah yes, spring semester courses begin next week. It will be good to get back in the classroom again!