Banazîr the Jedi Hobbit (banazir) wrote,
Banazîr the Jedi Hobbit

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Achtung graphics and database students!

banazir: Euler went blind, you know.
zengeneral: I plan to become deaf, so that I can ignore the cries of my students.

Don't make me break out this icon! ;-)

Actually, I've had a generally positive impression of students this semester. There are a few who are having difficulties with CIS 560, which is being taught as a heavy-duty relational database course again for the first time in several years (perhaps 3 or 4). Maria Zamfir-Bleyberg had this course exclusively until fall, 2000, and she taught it as a pure RDB course with a bit of SQL, a lot of relational algebra, relational calculus, and normalization. I remember how she found some students unable to grasp normalization, and had to cover a lot of what she and Anindya Banerjee call "remedial set theory".

From personal experience, I've encountered resistance to the "power-levelling" approach that instructors employed to get students through normalization and concepts of algebra and set theory when I was a grad or undergrad. Naming no names, most CS students and the stronger IS students have little trouble with it, but the ones whose discrete math foundations aren't 100% fresh seem to be struggling. This, along with a desire to improve the undergrad curriculum, is why I posted my straw poll about discrete math. Some have likened the course to a graduate course (though I took this actual characterization with a grain of salt, since IS majors hardly take any grad electives). They seem to be getting the impression that I'm "force-feeding" the material, when it's actually to get ahead of the problem and see what I need to cover remedially.

My solution has been to scale back the workload a little, but I think students are still nervous about our being 7 chapters into the textbook at a point when they would like to be 3 chapters in. Despite my reassurances, I think there's still an uneasy feeling that I'm going to try to cover 25 chapters instead of 15. Actually, anyone can cover the last dozen chapters of Silberschatz et al. on their own; it's the first 7 chapters that need to be taught 2-3 times, and that's why I've "breezed through" SQL.

Of course, if you listen to zengeneral, anything over 2 lectures spent on SQL is too much. ;-D

Tags: courses, databases, graphics, pedagogy, teaching, undergraduates

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