Monday, July 21, 2008

Course Development

I recently received my teaching assignment. As this is my first year, my teaching load is reduced, so I only have to teach one class. My class happens to fall during the spring, so that gives me a little time to prepare which is nice. However, since I've never taught before I've started preparing now. To make this a slightly more complex situation, the class I've been assigned to isn't one of the classic freshman classes where there are a thousand books to choose from. In fact, I'm teaching an undergrad-level class that is new - as in, the course is relatively new to the school, and the topic is still active research.

While this does make the class more enjoyable to teach - it is a field I'm interested in - it also makes it more complex. How do you find a textbook? I found many books on the subject, but no textbooks. The difference is that books do not have questions at the end of the chapters. I found one book that does have questions at the end, but it would be a stretch to call them homework worthy. It is even a stretch to call that book a textbook.

So now I've pretty much relegated myself to the fact that I'm going to have to write the homework questions from scratch. I had hoped to do a mixture, at least the first year - 50% text questions/50% mine. However, it looks like this isn't going to happen.

In any case, I have a feeling I'm going to end up using one of the books (I'm not too fond of) as a guide and complement it with numerous review articles. Hopefully, once I get all of this put together, homework questions will just materialize. In any case, I think I need to first figure out what I'm going to teach before I can start working on what I'm going to ask.

Now if I can only figure out how to use this work in my NSF grant application somehow...

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