We’re now a bit over halfway through the term in my second presentation of Mathematical Structures to the first-year undergraduates. They have sat the test, and I have finished marking it.
Test papers brought, as usual, a crop of responses, from the poetic (“Odd and even numbers are not directly related but inversely”) to the incomprehensible (“The elements in the set S have the same different each element”); but overall the papers were good, with the average almost exactly the same as last year.
We have also done the student questionnaires. According to “management by numbers”, a teacher is only satisfactory if, on a scale of 1 to 5, (s)he scores at least four on every question [even though some of the things asked about are completely outside the teacher's control]. I was only satisfactory on one of the seven questions; fortunately it was “The module is well taught”, which of course appeals to my ego. But you know what I think about questionnaires, so no more about scores.
More interesting are the student responses. One student wanted more past papers; without a time machine or a Ministry of Truth, there is nothing I can do about that. But by and large the students seem to be enjoying the module, even if management are (officially) ambivalent: many of them remark on my enthusiasm, my explanations, my willingness to take questions, and so on. Some mixed messages: one student likes the fact that the lectures are self-contained and no textbook is needed, while another deplores the lack of a textbook (even though there is one).
But the response that pleased me the most, and showed that the module is achieving something of its aims, was this:
What’s taught in the module provides a useful foundation for my other modules.