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What you wish you knew about teaching


What could be more important than teaching our future generations how to be good, educated people? Yet, ironically, what could be more difficult? Luckily, one blogger named Marc shares lessons learned from teaching a Python course at the University of Washington. His 10 quick tips give an inside track on how to engage our students best. Here are just two of his tips:

Form project teams – Organize your students into small groups (3-4 students per group works well for programming assignments) for in-class projects. Students will tend to sit together with their friends so avoid forming groups based on proximity – generate your groups randomly by counting off. Small group work provides three significant benefits:

It builds peer support networks.

It gives students an opportunity to share ideas and learn from each other.

It gives your class some variety (no one wants to hear you talk for the entire class).

Sneak a feedback question into every quiz – I had a diverse group of students – some were experienced computer professionals and others had never written a line of code. The last question in every one of my weekly quizzes was:

So far, the pace of this course is…

Choose one answer.

a. too slow for me

b. just about right

c. too fast for me

This gave me direct and concrete feedback, week in and week out, about how my students were feeling about the pace of the course. I knew that a small minority would always feel bored or lost but I always tried to hit a sweet spot where >80% of my students felt the pace was just about right.

Full story at Marc’s Space.

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