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Different pedagogy between 2 professors

  1. Mar 19, 2010 #1


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    Hey! Today I had an incredible class of electromagnetism (level of Jackson's book, i.e. upper undergrad level). I'll explain.
    My professor is a "genius" in the sense he can do very complicated mathematics/physics without thinking 1 second, he already know the answer. He speaks well (never mess up with the terms) and go very fast. However we (the students) feel totally lost. He's way ahead of us. For him, everything's clear and so basics that he never asks "Is everything clear? Any question?". Only at the beginning of the class he asks "any question regarding last class?". Very few people says they're stuck to understand a step or an idea. I feel so lost that I don't say a word.
    Today he wasn't here. Another professor replaced him... This guy was extremely pedagogical. For instance he would explain what we've done so far (it wasn't clear for anyone!). He would write down the schema of the proofs we have done and explain why we've done them so, explaining also that we could have proved the same lemmas via other ways (in contrast with my professor who starts the demonstration of a theorem by a lot of algebra/arithmetics/vector calculus or whatever it's called without explaining what's going on, where we're heading and so on). He was asking "Is everything clear?". It was all, absolutely all crystal clear. I find it incredible, it was maybe the best class I've ever had. I feel so sad I don't have him as a professor, I feel I'm losing an opportunity to learn the really hard material with a great help.
    It's amazing how a professor can make you understand the material. Until now I've been thinking almost all what I learn or understand was due to "self studying". By self studying I mean reading the class notes and solving exercises. I realize the professor can make you understand the material with only one shot.
    I've learned more in this single class than in the 2 weeks I've had until now of the term.
    Have you had any similar experience? If you're a professor, do you think you're amazing or that you could improve a lot?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 19, 2010 #2
    I guess this inverted is why I quit studying, all my exams came back with huge amounts of red texts saying 'The answer's correct, I just don't understand you here, explain better what you do.'.

    When I'm explaining a thing to a person though, it goes a lot better, I can see from their facial expression that they don't get it yet, and take a gear back, but when I'm writing things on paper. There were three things they always accused me of: I did not write it down 'linearly', in a 'logical sequence', whatever that means, my arguments were unconventional, and I took too big logical steps. I'm reasonably good at explaining things when I'm talking to a person and adjust my methods to each individual, but as soon as I write on paper it reverts to a thing that only I can follow.

    Personally, I find the art of explaining is phrasing things in a way the indirect object of the explanation would phrase it. People who 'can't explain' simply have an odd way of phrasing I've come to notice and can perfectly explain to people who phrase it in the same way. I think I also read some literature which suggested that people score higher on multiple choice tests if the answers, not only the quaestions, are phrased in a way they would phrase it themselves.

    Which of course would mean that the students who phrase things differently than the person who made the test are discriminated against. If you have a penchant to use the accusative+infinite (I said him to be big) instead of the subordinating-that (I said that he was big), you apparently understand texts better that do the same.
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