December 9 Day 276: With a Whimper

My last two classes of the Autumn 2020 went out not with a bang, but a whimper.

Only about 1/3 of the students attended. I released expectations, procedures, and questions for the oral final interviews to be scheduled throughout exam week (December 14-18). Friday appointments are looking pretty crowded already.

I answered questions and then encouraged people to work together, discussing and preparing for the final assessment. Three students stayed. That’s it. Just three. We had a perfectly delightful time working through problems on the shared whiteboard. I question why others didn’t choose to take advantage of the opportunity.

Despite my best efforts, I feel like I was not as successful engaging the students as last Spring. Maybe the difference had to do with timing? UW Tacoma enrolls many transfer students. Even though Calculus II only has a handful of first year students enrolled, my Autumn classes are probably an introduction to the campus for many. I didn’t treat it as a transition course; and maybe I should have. By comparison, students in spring classes had likely been enrolled in two or more quarters here; they knew their way around and felt more welcome in the environment. It’s easier to participate when you believe you belong.

When teaching in person, opportunities to promote connections, invite participation, and identify resources are just easier. Now I am thinking I need to include these aspects more intentionally for any course I teach in the Autumn—whether remote or face-to-face.

Or it could all be an illusion and I am trying to fit patterns to the data that aren’t really there.

So concludes my second quarter of fully remote teaching.

Published by Jenny Quinn

Mathematician. Mother. Wife. Leader. I am a professor of mathematics at the University of Washington Tacoma. Mother of Anson and Zachary. Wife to Mark. President of the Mathematical Association of America.

2 thoughts on “December 9 Day 276: With a Whimper

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