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MIT Moves Away From Massive Lecture Halls

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the at-that-tuition-it-should-be-massage-tutoring dept.

Education 317

eldavojohn writes "The New York Times is reporting on MIT's migration away from large lectures as many colleges and universities have. Attendance at these lectures often falls to 50 percent by the end of the semester. TEAL (Technology Enhanced Active Learning) gives the students a more hands on approach and may signal the death of the massive lecture hall synonymous with achieving a bachelors of science."

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317 comments

Good (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26436083)

They were a bunch of fags anyway

Re:Good (2, Funny)

SomeJoel (1061138) | more than 5 years ago | (#26436113)

Are you implying that the lecture halls are homosexual?

Re:Good (2, Funny)

Kozz (7764) | more than 5 years ago | (#26437445)

...not that there's anything wrong with that.

Souds boring (0, Offtopic)

m1cha (970250) | more than 5 years ago | (#26436117)

Where else can I look at scantly dressed cheerleaders for several hours without being arrested now?

Re:Souds boring (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26436227)

Relatedly, what's the best part about having sex with twenty one year olds? There's twenty of them!

Re:Souds boring (2, Funny)

xaxa (988988) | more than 5 years ago | (#26436475)

Where else can I look at scantly dressed cheerleaders for several hours without being arrested now?

I doubt it was MIT in the first place.

Re:Souds boring (2, Informative)

gnick (1211984) | more than 5 years ago | (#26436503)

This is MIT we're talking about. Searching other schools for your cheerleader-eye-candy may be a good move anyway.

remote learning (5, Insightful)

escay (923320) | more than 5 years ago | (#26436135)

Is this going towards a future where students do not need to be physical present on the campus? they would attend classes from home (or basement for some) and graduate with professional degrees. while that may be well and good for knowledge and proficiency what does it do to learning about social coexistence?

oh well, i guess they could take a class for that too.

Re:remote learning (5, Insightful)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 5 years ago | (#26436235)

Social Co-existance? Why in God's name would you need to learn that at college? Those are life skills, and can be learned in *drumroll* life. Sure, college is a great place to do that, but I would not say the social attributes gained in college translate 100% to working life, more like 50% or less. There is a lot of stuff kids do in college that would get you fired in a heartbeat at a real honest to goodness job.

Social co-existance is not a good reason to go to college, IMHO. Apparently they teach that at some schools anyway (which is completely retarded).

Re:remote learning (2, Insightful)

nine-times (778537) | more than 5 years ago | (#26436387)

I think I agree with you. I get the feeling sometimes that, in many ways, people have come to think of college as an advanced summer camp where their darling little snowflakes can learn how to behave themselves out on their own, "in real life". Of course, their concept of the best way to do that is to seclude them in a community where practically no one has real-life experience outside of academia.

That's not to say that you can't learn about social interaction in college, and I think there is value in having some kind of transitional space between childhood and adulthood. It just seems to me that sometimes real education gets lost in the shuffle.

Re:remote learning (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26436655)

Lecture halls have nothing to do with being on-campus.

They fell out of the middle-ages mentality where the large lecture was the best way of disseminating knowledge to a group of individuals, specifically because multiple copies of a book were not often available. The "Lecture" format was originally much like the sermon you get from a preacher at sunday services.

Of course, for most of my "lecture" classes, if there were more than 30 students, all the "lecturer" did was read his own damn book (which we had to buy at way-too-high prices) to us for 3 hours every class anyways. I wholeheartedly support the end of the "lecture" format class on this basis.

Re:remote learning (1)

Thyamine (531612) | more than 5 years ago | (#26437467)

Um, because that's part of college? It is often the first time a lot of students are on their own for their first time, and while it's not a replica of real life, it's important. Education, time management, social interactions, all of it is part of the experience. To suggest that just because some of it doesn't translate on some ratio to RL doesn't make it less valuable.

Re:remote learning (5, Funny)

decipher_saint (72686) | more than 5 years ago | (#26436295)

I can just see the late night commercial for MIT...

You could learn:
Architecture
Engineering
VCR Repair
Computer Science
Sciences
Management

All from the comfort of your own home!

If you place your order now, we'll send you a tote bag at absolutely no additional charge!

Operators are standing by...

Re:remote learning (1)

gregbot9000 (1293772) | more than 5 years ago | (#26436815)

Well they would have to take that class, because when they go for the job the personality test would flag them.

Re:remote learning (1)

Ambitwistor (1041236) | more than 5 years ago | (#26436827)

while that may be well and good for knowledge and proficiency what does it do to learning about social coexistence?

Aren't you presupposing that MIT students currently learn about social coexistence?

oh well, i guess they could take a class for that too.

Potsdam University is already on it [slashdot.org] .

Re:remote learning (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26436889)

With the rise of telecommuting, maybe they won't have to!

Re:remote learning (4, Interesting)

oldwindways (934421) | more than 5 years ago | (#26437383)

Is this going towards a future where students do not need to be physical present on the campus?

Actually, the TEAL approach that replaced the large freshman physics lectures at MIT places a heavier emphasis on attendance. In a traditional lecture the professor doesn't know most of the students, and doesn't really care if 50% of them stop showing up after the first week. With TEAL there are interactive portions of the class (such as answering multiple choice questions with a personal remote) which are tracked and factored into the student's grade. In other words, if you don't show up, you can't get an A (no matter how well you have mastered the material).

Personally I don't think this is the best approach, but it certainly isn't forgiving of a student's absence from class.

As a side note, when I was a freshman, many of my classmates did not find the TEAL lectures to be terribly effective in teaching the material. Frequently they would go back into the video archive after class and watch recordings of the "traditional" lectures from years past to actually learn what was being taught. They just went to the TEAL lectures because they didn't want to loose their participation credit.

Re:remote learning (1)

scorp1us (235526) | more than 5 years ago | (#26437463)

My social coexistence was a negative influence on my GPA. It was however good for my BAC.

Besides being comp sci during windows 3.1 days meant we were in the labs every spare moment because the SGI boxes didn't have a 640k barrier.

Re:remote learning (1)

Paltin (983254) | more than 5 years ago | (#26437509)

No, they're not moving towards learning from home.

The point of the article is that small interpersonal interaction is a better way to learn then being talked at in a lecture hall. Small classes with the ability to ask your instructor questions and interact with them have been the model at Liberal arts colleges for years, and it's nice to see other schools catching on.

great (5, Insightful)

po134 (1324751) | more than 5 years ago | (#26436149)

I've been in 2x150+ classes at my university and it's really a good idea to move from those as the best the teacher can do is read the slides (God they love those at the university) which every student can do on their own at home, there's no "plus-value" of going to class especially when you have 45min of bus each way to get there.

Re:great (4, Informative)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 5 years ago | (#26436225)

I have to agree. What's the use of having a class so huge that the professor can't even know all his students, doesn't grade papers(his TAs do that), the student can't necessarily see the screen well or hear the professor.

Questions can't realistically be asked, etc...?

I learned more from reading the book, the slides mostly restated the book. And one of the classes the professor forbid tape recorders* and didn't hand out slides. I have poor vision. It sucked.

*Couldn't exactly hide the mic, I'd have needed a boom.

Re:great (4, Insightful)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 5 years ago | (#26436685)

I always loved the question part(sarcasm/irony). A lot of my lecture profs would ask this question like, "Everyone who doesn't get it, raise their hand" and if enough people raised their hand, he'd go over the topic again, and if that didn't do it, you had to ask the TA anyway.

My brains a bit odd: when I don't get it, I don't get it differently from most people, so I always had to ask the TA, or figure it out for myself. At that point, there ceases to be a reason to go to the class. Add to that the psychological torment of being the only moron who has to raise his hand twice...Ugh.

It saves money (1)

fantomas (94850) | more than 5 years ago | (#26436755)

"What's the use of having a class so huge that the professor can't even know all his students, doesn't grade papers(his TAs do that), the student can't necessarily see the screen well or hear the professor"

It's more cost efficient. It saves money. Why don't all students have their own personal tutor, or only get taught in classes of ten or less? Because teachers cost money, rooms cost money, equipment cost money. If you can get 150 students through with one professor, rather than one professor per 30, well you've just saved 4 salaries.

Re:It saves money (4, Insightful)

KovaaK (1347019) | more than 5 years ago | (#26437065)

Clearly, there is a balance of cost and effectiveness. You can't have infinite students to one professor because very few students would get anything meaningful out of it.

What Firethorn is arguing is that one of the major benefits of having smaller classes is the individual student-professor interactions that occur such as the ones he listed. I tend to agree with him. When a professor can hear a student's (incorrect) thought process on a problem, he may have heard similar issues before and be quick to correct them. There are plenty of incorrect ways to look at problems, but it wouldn't make sense for a professor to approach a class of 300+ and say "Don't do these problems this way - this is wrong. Also, don't do them this way. This way is wrong too."

Re:great (1)

harry666t (1062422) | more than 5 years ago | (#26436989)

> a class so huge that the professor can't even know all his students

My maths professor can remember the faces and names (and who didn't know what) of *all* of her students, even sometimes after many years. This is amazing, "mr. [my last name], what's the definition of the rank of a matrix?", "mrs. [my friend's name], when are two complex numbers equal?", "mr. [someone], last year you didn't remember the squeeze theorem, please explain it to us", in a hall of 100+ people, and she has never mistaken anyone for someone else nor forgotten someone's name. She even has no trouble remembering who didn't attend a lecture on which day. Damn, who needs a freaking database?

Re:great (4, Interesting)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 5 years ago | (#26436927)

I don't know. I was in several classes that size when I was in school (both my Physics classes and 1 Astronomy class). Admittedly, the guy doing the Astronomy class was a joke. It consisted of a slide show for a lecture and the "textbook" was his own book he'd written which came from the bookstore as a collection of pages that you had to add to your own 3 ring binder. Given that I already knew most of what was in the class (having taken more advanced classes on the subject already - this was just an easy elective), after the first 2-3 weeks I stopped going and just checked the website and showed up for tests. Ended up making an A+ in the class.

Now, the two Physics classes of this size were MUCH better handled. The professor didn't use powerpoint at all. OCCASIONALLY he'd use the overhead projector, but not for more than 1 slide. Mostly he used the chalkboard (which had a system of pullies to raise/lower 2 sets of 3 boards as needed so there was plenty of writing space available to him) to work out problems, but he also did a lot of straight lecturing, and hands on demonstrations where he'd bring in equipment, call volunteers onto the stage, etc. If you felt like shouting (or sitting close to the front) he was also more than happy to answer any questions the class might have. He was also a very funny/fun professor (as well as a complete jackass, but in an entertaining sort of way). I honestly found those two classes to be some of my most enjoyable I took, and never felt disadvantaged due to the class size.

In general, I think that it's more difficult to teach effectively to a very large class, but it's by no means impossible.

Re:great (1)

raftpeople (844215) | more than 5 years ago | (#26436945)

I had a few classes in Kane Hall at the UW, seats 720 people. The nice thing is you can sit in the back and tell jokes to your friends or sit in front and learn depending on your mood.

Re:great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26437231)

Then you had a pretty bad teacher who would otherwise have just read slides. About 8 years ago, I had a class with an excellent teacher in a lecture hall. At various times, I'd sat at different locations in the room, ranging from the front to the nosebleed seats, and fro the middle to each side (in other words, I sat just about everywhere in the room). I found this teacher (Prof. Swain at Northeaster University, in the physics department) both entertaining and enthralling no matter where in the room I sat.

The best educations often don't come fro the bigge (5, Insightful)

stokessd (89903) | more than 5 years ago | (#26436153)

The giant schools are not the place where the best educations come from. Sure they often have the biggest research budgets and thus are in the news the most. Smaller schools with smaller class sizes are where it's at from a value for dollar spent standpoint.

My biggest class was intro psych and it was 75 folks. My Hydrodynamic instability was four students and the professor. Just try to hide when you haven't prepared with only three other peeps to hide behind.

Sheldon

Re:The best educations often don't come fro the bi (5, Insightful)

reddburn (1109121) | more than 5 years ago | (#26436213)

If one happens to be a self-directed learner, then the research U's ARE the place to be, with far better resources available to students. I went to a SLAC as an undergraduate, then to Giant Research University for grad school, and I can promise you that I'd have given anything to have the resources of GRU as an undergrad.

Re:The best educations often don't come fro the bi (4, Interesting)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 5 years ago | (#26436381)

Yes and no. If you're looking for a lot of individual time and supervision, no, a big school is not the place to go.

But if you're looking for great resources and opportunities, then a big school is far superiour. I jumped into a graduate research lab my junior year for credit, experience, and references that were a huge benefit to me, and that sort of opportunity was impossible for me at the smaller school where I'd spent my first two years.

The gotcha is that you have to go looking for those opportunities. No one is going to try and force you to take them.

Re:The best educations often don't come fro the bi (1)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 5 years ago | (#26436497)

No sitting in the back of the room for you!

Re:The best educations often don't come fro the bi (1)

leighklotz (192300) | more than 5 years ago | (#26437489)

The giant schools are not the place where the best educations come from. Sure they often have the biggest research budgets and thus are in the news the most. Smaller schools with smaller class sizes are where it's at from a value for dollar spent standpoint.

My biggest class was intro psych and it was 75 folks. My Hydrodynamic instability was four students and the professor. Just try to hide when you haven't prepared with only three other peeps to hide behind.

Sheldon

MIT's not a giant school. Their freshman class is around 1000. [mit.edu] , which is bigger than it was when I was a freshman, but not as big as a few year ago when they took steps to reduce size.

I think I had a half-dozen big classes the entire time I was there; the rest of the classes were small enough that I felt everyone got enough attention, especially in the recitations, where my biggest beef was the occasional grad student who didn't speak English.

I think the worst was a math professor pressed into service for a recitation section, who would stand at the board, say, "Uh, I don't remember how to do this one. What's the answer to this integral? Oh yeah, it's..." and write down the answer and prove it was right. But I later found out that is actually how you solve differential equations!

The death of the lecture hall? (1)

AltGrendel (175092) | more than 5 years ago | (#26436159)

But that will change the future!!! [aol.com]

I don't get the "50% reduction in failures" (4, Interesting)

YesIAmAScript (886271) | more than 5 years ago | (#26436183)

Why is a 50% reduction in failures a useful stat? The schools want a certain amount of failures in these large "weeder" classes, because giving a diploma to everyone who pays waters down the value of the diploma.

If they wanted to reduce failures, they only needed to move the curve (which was set where it was on purpose in the first place).

Honestly, by the time you get to college, especially ones like MIT, if you can't learn because the environment isn't as cozy as it could be, I'm not sure it is completely the school's job to fix that for you. You might expect that in primary school, but you can't expect it in the world of work, so seems like college is a great place to start introducing people to the concept.

I would have to imagine another flip side of this is the students "don't get access" (whatever that really means in a big lecture) to top professors. Teaching 80 kids at once instead of 500 means you have to run 6x as many classes and professors aren't going to do this willingly. You're probably going to end up with only access to a T.A. (teaching assistant).

Re:I don't get the "50% reduction in failures" (5, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | more than 5 years ago | (#26436223)

MIT doesn't work that way. If you can get into MIT, you should be able to get through MIT.

Re:I don't get the "50% reduction in failures" (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26436349)

I'm already moderating this thread so I can't post except as AC, but I went to MIT.

In my living group we had 18 freshman my year. 1 graduated early, 6 of us graduated "on time," a few more graduated in 5 years and the rest never graduated.

So sorry, at least in my small sample, MIT does work that way.

Re:I don't get the "50% reduction in failures" (4, Interesting)

Bozdune (68800) | more than 5 years ago | (#26436751)

I went to MIT, and it sounds like your "living group" was too busy "drinking." No such stats in my class.

Re:I don't get the "50% reduction in failures" (1)

Carlosos (1342945) | more than 5 years ago | (#26437469)

Sounds pretty normal such a high failure rate. I went to a community college and every semester the classes got smaller and fewer of the higher classes got tough than the intro classes. After that at a University it was the same way. At the beginning multiple full classes but at the end maybe 15 people left and those higher classes were offered only every second semester instead of every semester.
I believe that people just find out that they studied something that they didn't really have interest in and changed majors to other programs. I guess Computer Networking sounds cool first but boring when people take the classes and I know a lot of people that think that it is boring.

Failing or burning out? (5, Insightful)

Auraiken (862386) | more than 5 years ago | (#26436671)

A bit on that note is that the kids who are going to MIT might usually be very intelligent and might have high grades but what may happen is that they start to burn out around this time or go through some sort of identity crisis where they want to party and relax. So this might be a big factor as well. I mean how many of you want to learn things all the time no matter how cool they can be? I know I've gotten sick of even the things that I was interested in if it was a common routine.

Re:I don't get the "50% reduction in failures" (1)

YesIAmAScript (886271) | more than 5 years ago | (#26436937)

>MIT doesn't work that way. If you can get into MIT, you should be able to get through MIT.

Should be able?

Just because you should be able doesn't mean you will. All 4 of the people who lived in my apartment had what it took in the brains and money department to graduate. But only two of us did. They just didn't have what it took to complete their degrees. They took all the courses they liked and did great but could never finish the other required courses.

So is the University supposed to force them through these classes somehow?

I didn't go to MIT, btw.

Re:I don't get the "50% reduction in failures" (5, Insightful)

fropenn (1116699) | more than 5 years ago | (#26436263)

Why is a 50% reduction in failures a useful stat?

It's useful because it shows that many of the students in the class were not learning anything...which is the point of education.
Having a larger number of people with a bachelor's degree does not make it worth less. Having a large number of people who don't know anything have a bachelor's degree makes it worth less.

Re:I don't get the "50% reduction in failures" (1)

Luyseyal (3154) | more than 5 years ago | (#26436485)

Having a larger number of people with a bachelor's degree does not make it worth less. Having a large number of people who don't know anything have a bachelor's degree makes it worth less.

I don't think this is what you were thinking about when you wrote that, but economically speaking, it is worth less if more people have one. Having said that, I think the most important thing about college is for you to choose to get as much out of it as possible. That is something economics cannot take from you.

-l

Re:I don't get the "50% reduction in failures" (5, Insightful)

Dynedain (141758) | more than 5 years ago | (#26436343)

Bullshit. If I'm paying $40,000 a year to get an education, I expect that the university do all in it's power to facilitate the education.

Note that they're reducing failures by 50%, not because of aptitude or student ability, but purely by changing the delivery format. Hands-on small classrooms with a low student to professor ratio has been proved time and time again to be a good thing. This is true at all levels of education, from grade school through PhD programs.

In a big class, if you don't understand something, and aren't given the opportunity to discuss it with the professor for clarification, you're far more likely to lose interest and motivation. There's a reason why every university when recruting high school students tries to brag about low student to teacher ratios.

Re:I don't get the "50% reduction in failures" (0)

mattwarden (699984) | more than 5 years ago | (#26436529)

The whole point of curving test grades is that people recognize that the test is an imperfect measure. With a curve, you are evaluated on how you perform relative to your peers. That takes the test imperfections out of the equation.

To me, reducing failures means they are not curving test grades, and that is a problem. If they did curve, there would be no change in the percentage of people who fail (by definition).

Re:I don't get the "50% reduction in failures" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26436773)

That takes the test imperfections out of the equation.

And puts the sample imperfections into the equation.

Re:I don't get the "50% reduction in failures" (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 5 years ago | (#26436781)

Curves are fine until they start promoting people who don't understand the material. I had CS classes where people who couldn't code a decent "Hello World" were being passed because they could regurgitate the theory for the exams, and the curve was flattened by too many people who couldn't do the projects.

If you're a school like MIT, with a strong reputation to uphold, you can't afford to pass people who don't meet your standard.

Re:I don't get the "50% reduction in failures" (0)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 5 years ago | (#26436651)

I remember having some professors that actively tried to get students to drop out. Something to do with "if you cant handle it your waisting the seat". I agree with you 100% about them facilitating the education. In small classes professors teach. In large classes professors lecture. Like you say, a lecture leaves no room for clarification or interactivity. If the student spent their lecture time in a lab asking the professors aids questions they would get a better grade and an actual education.

Re:I don't get the "50% reduction in failures" (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26436941)

>"if you cant handle it your waisting the seat"

But you *were* wasting your seat in grammar school, weren't you?

HINT: you're your, waist waste

Re:I don't get the "50% reduction in failures" (1, Insightful)

reddburn (1109121) | more than 5 years ago | (#26436657)

PROTIP: Education is not a consumer-oriented service industry. You have as much a responsibility as faculty to facilitate your own learning. Part of college is learning how to learn. Most schools offer free tutoring services, and their centers have well trained staff.

Large research universities are not there to educate, but rather to produce knowledge. Even at state schools, tenured faculty have a greater responsibility to research than to teaching. Want proof? Look at budgets. Less than 10% of salaries in Engineering, Math, and Natural Sciences colleges come from tuition or state funding. The rest comes from grants - private corporations who expect research and care nothing for your pass/fail ratio.

To take your first clause: If I'm receiving $2.5 million for my current project from Bayer, and $50 from you, I expect you to shut up and try your best to learn in the three hours a week we're in class, or failing that, to show up at office hours, because I'm spending the rest of my time earning my paycheck.

Re:I don't get the "50% reduction in failures" (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26437355)

I have taught at a MAJOR university of the MIT class and at a couple of state universities. When you have an MIT with its extremely high admission standards, weeding out extremely capable students is not necessary, although you may have a "project" in getting some of them adjusted to the pace of the real world. A lot of them played with science, doing what they wanted, prior to admission but in the real world you have to do things in a more focused and directed way (unless you are a professor, ahem). Many don't take to disciplined thinking and working, and are weeded out.

In a state university which has to admit anyone with a high enough class rank from high school, if you want a respectable degree for your graduates, you are bloody ruthless in weeding out your unworthy freshmen. That's life. I have not noticed in the two state universities I have worked in anything like "eliminating the worthy" taking place. I teach in the hard sciences, and if you are going to be worth a damn to an employer (for instance), you have to be able to take the pace of meeting large demands on your time and brainpower. At commuter schools, you have the problem of people working -- in one I am familiar with, over 70% of the students work over 30 hours a week, and it is hard for the faculty there to work students hard enough (i.e., homework) without putting the students on an 8 year plan to graduate.

What you are seeing here with the MIT changes is an adaptation to a lot of research going on in the teaching of physics (one area I know a bit about). There are ways to re-organizing your teaching methods, and the clickers play a very large role in this if used correctly, and with properly set up support by TA's students show a 30+% improvement in standard (conceptual) test scores versus standard teaching methods. The debate is over teaching problem solving skills which can only be trivially tested on 1 hour standardized tests. Better understanding of the class overall of concepts does not mean you have helped the small percentage of real problem solvers which will be in any class in any school, the MIT's included.

So, there is clear evidence that the modern teaching methods, used correctly, provide much more competent C students, it does not necessarily mean the two or three percent of students who are the real future of your field are getting anything more out of it. The improvement in conceptual understanding of the better students is much less dramatic, and may not even be measurable in the few you want to really get to. And, you have made a choice to not emphasize problem solving in order to increase the average conceptual understanding. Those of you out in the real world will understand that solving real problems is ultimately where it is at, not scoring well on standardized tests.

Re:I don't get the "50% reduction in failures" (2, Insightful)

Thelasko (1196535) | more than 5 years ago | (#26436715)

If I'm paying $40,000 a year to get an education, I expect that the university do all in it's power to facilitate the education.

Exactly, I could teach myself the material for a lot less money. I pay the money to get, as the grandparent says, a cozy environment.

Re:I don't get the "50% reduction in failures" (5, Insightful)

exploder (196936) | more than 5 years ago | (#26437317)

Most people who think they can teach themselves a subject, even to the level of a four-year degree, are overestimating their own initiative and discipline. You may be the rare exception, but if so, the system isn't designed for you anyway.

You don't pay for a cozy environment. You pay the university to certify that you really *did* learn the material to their standards. You pay for access to experts in the field. You pay for use of facilities. All things you can't get on your own, even if you can learn everything independently.

Capable of Getting In To MIT = Capable Of Passing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26436511)

When I was a Cornell EE back in the day, the engineering school took great delight in the fact that only 50% of people who entered the school ended up graduating - most of the 50% who were gone either flunked out or "quit before they were fired". This was incredibly stupid, since the admissions process already "weeded out" 80% of applicants, and caused virtually all students to cheat like crazy.

My sister went to Harvard, where virtually everyone graduates. It's a damn fine school, and their alumni seem to do OK.

Re:Capable of Getting In To MIT = Capable Of Passi (0, Flamebait)

Silicon Jedi (878120) | more than 5 years ago | (#26436703)

Cornell is like the easiest Ivy to get into. It's practically a State School. So, it maintains its "standard" by making it as hard academically and psychologically to graduate from. I didn't make it past freshman year from social and psychological breakdown.

Re:Capable of Getting In To MIT = Capable Of Passi (2, Interesting)

KovaaK (1347019) | more than 5 years ago | (#26437279)

50%? For Engineering, that seems high. At the University of Pittsburgh, I remember being told that every year, the number of students drops by half. 200 Freshman = 100 Sophomores = 50 Juniors = 25 Seniors. People dropped out of Engineering (and flocked to Business/History/English/Econ/Imaginary Engineering) like flies at my school, and it definitely showed as you got to the higher classes.

Re:I don't get the "50% reduction in failures" (2, Insightful)

DeadDecoy (877617) | more than 5 years ago | (#26436581)

I think a true metric of a school should not be it's failure rate as weeder classes but rather the quality of students it turns out who are ready for the real world. Maybe the problem is, we think of the failure rate as some metric for hammering out the flawed students when really it's an indicator of how (in)effective a teaching style is at helping students learn. For instance, I could go off and tell 100 people they are stupid and need to RTFM and, given that method, only a few of them will actually learn the material.

In the long-term, students may realize that classes a high student count and attrition rate may not provide the most utility for them in terms of learning. Maybe those who can survive the lecture hall are perfectly capable of learning on their own and those who can't need a little more one-on-one help. After all, isn't one of the reasons people go to school: to be taught by someone learned in the material? If all I'd get out of a class is the equivilant of books-on-tape and working alone, I'd go RTFM, take some certification tests and save a couple thousand on tuition.

Re:I don't get the "50% reduction in failures" (1)

routerl (976394) | more than 5 years ago | (#26436597)

Why is a 50% reduction in failures a useful stat? The schools want a certain amount of failures in these large "weeder" classes, because giving a diploma to everyone who pays waters down the value of the diploma.

It is a useful stat because it means that more people are actually learning the material (given an unchanged curriculum), rather than that the material has somehow become easier. Schools such as MIT are not considered elite because a lot of students fail, but because they produce high quality graduates.

If they wanted to reduce failures, they only needed to move the curve (which was set where it was on purpose in the first place).

Again, the point is to actually teach better, not just give the impression of doing so.

Honestly, by the time you get to college, especially ones like MIT, if you can't learn because the environment isn't as cozy as it could be, I'm not sure it is completely the school's job to fix that for you.

Visit the campus of any university with a sufficiently high endowment and you'll see that vast rivers of money are spent ensuring that the environment is as conducive to good academic performance as they possibly can be. It is exactly the school's job to make sure their students receive as much help learning as possible, regardless of how much they choose to study. MIT is not at risk of becoming a "pay to pass" school, it is trying to maintain its dominance in the fields for which it is best known.

Re:I don't get the "50% reduction in failures" (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 5 years ago | (#26436779)

Why is a 50% reduction in failures a useful stat? The schools want a certain amount of failures in these large "weeder" classes, because giving a diploma to everyone who pays waters down the value of the diploma...if you can't learn because the environment isn't as cozy as it could be, I'm not sure it is completely the school's job to fix that for you.

I think your right, but I think it's a bit trickier than that. What I mean is, there's a great temptation to say, "As a college, it's not MIT's job to *make* every student succeed, regardless of whether they're lazy, stupid, or emotionally disturbed." There's definite truth to that. On the other hand, MIT has an interest is helping their students succeed. That's part of their proper role, and it works in favor of their own benefit for their students to be happy and successful.

I don't mean to bring up too much of a tangent, but it reminds me of when people say, "I don't want my tax dollars going to government programs for education and poverty. It's not my job to pay for that stuff for other people, and if they can't do it for themselves, then tough." Again, there's some value in that sentiment. People ought to be responsible for themselves. On the other hand, high poverty rates and a poorly educated citizenry don't help anyone.

I'm all for personal responsibility, and to some degree allowing people to sink or swim based on their own merits. On the other hand, I'm not sure it's always worth trying to orchestrate systems to punish or neglect those who aren't doing well-- or aren't doing the "correct" things-- on their own. It can end up resembling cutting off your nose to spite your face. I think people get so worked up focusing on the idea that "everyone should get what they deserve" and punish those who aren't good, and ignore the reality that the more people in our society are doing well, the better off we'll all be.

Rant over. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to brace myself for the flames, trolls, and angry responses.

Re:I don't get the "50% reduction in failures" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26436801)

Colleges provide the service of education. If student "fail" they didn't get the education they paid for. There shouldn't be "weed out" classes. Not everyone might graduate in 4 years, but not everyone can. The dynamic of higher ed. is changing. Some people say that is for the worst, but when I think about it, if the real goal is to put information and understanding in the hands of the people, then I think it's for the better.

Re:I don't get the "50% reduction in failures" (3, Insightful)

exploder (196936) | more than 5 years ago | (#26437377)

Colleges don't (and cannot) sell you an education. They sell you access to an environment where you can become educated. If you are insufficiently intelligent, motivated, or clued-in to take advantage of it, it isn't the school's fault, nor is there anything in the world they can do about it.

Stop it, you're killing me! :-) (1)

jeko (179919) | more than 5 years ago | (#26437255)

"...because giving a diploma to everyone who pays waters down the value of the diploma."

http://tech.mit.edu/V121/N14/col14nesmi.14c.html [mit.edu]

"Even at MIT, where we pat ourselves on the back for our meritocratic ways until our skin is raw, admissions staffers report that legacies are granted an additional review before their rejection is finalized. At several schools, such students receive much more than an extra review. "

Talking about a school which even considers "legacy" status in admissions not wanting to give a diploma to everyone who pays...

Thank you. That's the best laugh I've had all morning.

Good. (4, Insightful)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 5 years ago | (#26436299)

Massive lecture halls were completely pointless in my experience. The only correlation between attendance and my grade was actually a negative correlation: the less I went, the better my grades got.

I had one class, a planetary geology course, where I was told in the first class that there was no way I could pass without attending class (to watch his boring-ass slideshows, which were going to be on the exam). That was the last class I went to, and I aced the class and the final.

Likewise physics, and all the gut CS classes (everything up to the 300 level). If you have a question, you're fucked anyway, because with 200+ students, you'll never be able to ask it...Half the time they put you off to the end of the lecture anyway, and then they tell you to ask the TA during the practicum or the lab.

After I graduated I heard that they'd put in this system where you had to "rent" this fricking remote control, register it (unique serial number, so they could track you attendance) and use it to input multiple choice answers to questions the prof put on the board. I can only imagine the benefits felt by the students [/sarcasm]

Save your time for the practicum, keep on top of the syllabus, and let the prof drone on at 8:00am while you get an extra hour of shuteye.

Re:Good. (1)

CompMD (522020) | more than 5 years ago | (#26436441)

RENT?! I wish we could have done that. We had to buy them from the bookstore for $30, and then we weren't allowed to sell them back.

Re:Good. (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 5 years ago | (#26436569)

Honestly I don't know how they did it; I was gone before that point, thank god, (though I swear I remember that the remotes were transferable). I always put my lecture classes in really awful time slots...I can't imagine actually GOING to class then.

In the really big classes the exams were these HUGE affairs and they were held for multiple sections, and always at night and not usually in the same lecture halls, so I never even had to get up for the exams.

Re:Good. (2, Interesting)

Dogun (7502) | more than 5 years ago | (#26436615)

I /went/ through the goddamn 8.01 TEAL pilot, then 8.02 TEAL. It was like chewing on glass. You spend easily 20-30% of the class time fiddling with the stupid response system, and less time getting through the material.

If you look carefully at the picture in TFA, you can see the vitality pouring out of these poor students. They're just awake enough to fiddle with their remote when prompted. Nobody's listening.

It's the professor who makes or breaks the lecture format. Frankly, I would have been sorely deprived if 6.115 had had a different format. The material was dense, but the prof knew how to draw in an audience.

Measuring failure rate in a curved class against an uncurved one where up to 15% of your grade is coming from brain-dead attendance (you can literally be half asleep) doesn't prove that TEAL is effective.

Re:Good. (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 5 years ago | (#26436961)

A good lecturer absolutely makes a huge difference, but they're rare enough to call the whole format into question.

Mandatory attendance makes me homicidal. Every class I've been in that took strict attendance was a waste of time. Now, classes that grade based on participation I have no problem with; that's a much more valid metric for a lot of classes.

But yea, the ability to fill a seat shouldn't factor in your grade. If that's all you need to do, you don't need to be there, and if you can do well in the class without attending, then that's the prof's problem, not yours.

(as an aside, I always wondered about getting a buddy to take your remote to class and punch the buttons. Seems like all they really need is for the remote to attend, right?)

Re:Good. (1)

exploder (196936) | more than 5 years ago | (#26437471)

Punching buttons on your buddy's remote is probably considered academic dishonesty, which is something you really want to avoid at university.

As for mandatory attendance, it's insulting if you're competent to judge for yourself when you can skip. Lots of students aren't, especially in lower division classes. Personally I'd rather they give a speech to the freshman about how skipping classes will lead to flunking out, and then let the dumb ones go ahead and flunk. But I understand why they do it the other way.

Re:Good. (2, Interesting)

dondelelcaro (81997) | more than 5 years ago | (#26436971)

After I graduated I heard that they'd put in this system where you had to "rent" this fricking remote control, register it (unique serial number, so they could track you attendance) and use it to input multiple choice answers to questions the prof put on the board. I can only imagine the benefits felt by the students

Used properly, these things can actually be fairly useful, as they allow a lecturer to get immediate feedback as to whether students have grasped the material being covered in the lecture. They also tell students whether they've grasped the material as well, and also tends to get students to engage more with the material.

Here at UCR, we sell them, and you register them, though only certain classes (usually ones with > 30 students) use them.

Re:Good. (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 5 years ago | (#26437249)

Yes and no. You understand the number of people who don't get it, but it still doesn't solve the problem of helping the 10% or so who aren't going to get it without a little face time...Something you can't give in a huge class.

I can't see any benefit for a class of 30; you can usually get a little extra time there just by asking a question. That 10% is just a handful of questions there.

shifting the blame? (1)

ad0n (1171681) | more than 5 years ago | (#26436305)

There is no doubt that academia needs to be mindful of the learning environments it creates. But technology is no magic bullet.

A poorly designed lecture might lead to low attendance, but so can a badly designed online or technology-enhanced environment. Some courses simply work well in a large classroom environment. Others are more amenable to a blended learning environment.

Re:shifting the blame? (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 5 years ago | (#26436461)

I disagree. I never learned anything from a huge lecture that I couldn't have gotten just as well by reading the stupid textbook.

It's different with a discussion class, where you have to participate and that participation is useful in refining ideas and exploring the material.

But the giant lecture format is a 1-way flow of information in an inefficient medium (voice), which is seldom delivered by an engaging or articulate individual.

Hey MIT Applicants (5, Funny)

mfh (56) | more than 5 years ago | (#26436367)

This means your chance of getting into MIT just decreased by over 9000%.

IMHO (3, Insightful)

Thelasko (1196535) | more than 5 years ago | (#26436409)

The schools with the large lecture halls just want your money. They accept everyone, (not MIT of course) and then weed you out by making learning as difficult as possible. They get a semester or two of tuition at very little cost to them. Good schools may have lower acceptance rates, but higher graduation rates.

great story /. (1, Insightful)

mattwarden (699984) | more than 5 years ago | (#26436413)

Large impersonal classrooms reduce accountability for attendance and decrease overall learning rates. Film at 11.

sink or swim (4, Insightful)

Kartoffel (30238) | more than 5 years ago | (#26436431)

I had a couple monster lecture hall classes as an undergrad. They were usually either introductory courses or weed-out courses. TFA is right that by the end of the semester addentance is cut in half. Students either don't need to attend anymore (introductory course) or they have already dropped it (in the case of a weed-out course).

Big U's are THE place to be for grad students and researchers. If you can manage to keep your head above water as an undergrad you will be better acclimated.

It depends on the lecture and the subject (1)

Janeshat (1388077) | more than 5 years ago | (#26437241)

Science lectures are often boring because there is no story to it. It is just facts and figures to be memorized and regurgitated later. People sleep and do not attend out of boredom.

History, Poli Sci, and Philosophy classes on the other hand can use the lecture hall to great effect. They can get a really good speaker/story teller (with a PHD in the subject) and let him explain how things happened, or perhaps why learning about that subject is of great importance to all mankind. If he is good then why shouldn't he have 500 to 1,000 people listening to what he has to say. Some of my favorite times as an undergrad were spent listening to wonderful lectures from great Historians and philosophers. They made me want to come to the next lecture. It was like anticipating the next episode of my favorite tv show. While you couldn't ask questions, nobody wanted to because they were all so enthralled with the lecture.

As an MIT graduate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26436543)

The ones with 50% drop off were the decent ones.
Some were much worse, and the ones with great professors were noticably better.

Many of my friends who skipped lecture just read the text books if they could get away with it. If the class was better then the books, then it was worth it to go, otherwise why bother.

I like lecture halls (1)

wicka (985217) | more than 5 years ago | (#26436563)

Parents, teachers, and professors like to view lecture halls as being too impersonal to effectively teach. Students view more personal classrooms as cramped and uncomfortable. I'd argue that sitting in a movie theatre seat for an hour and half certainly improves my ability to learn more than sitting closer to the teacher, but on a fucking wooden plank.

Re:I like lecture halls (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26437023)

I agree. If students aren't learning it is 1, because they don't want to or 2, because the professor doesn't know shit. In a University of MIT prestige, you should meet neither 1 nor 2.

Horrible Idea (4, Funny)

jglov (1371125) | more than 5 years ago | (#26436609)

Where will students go to take their afternoon naps now?

What else is new? (1)

kmweber (196563) | more than 5 years ago | (#26436649)

Yet another reason why liberal arts programs are inherently superior (aside from the fact that they're the only subjects that can reliably arrive at Truth, and are more human).

Re:What else is new? (1)

reddburn (1109121) | more than 5 years ago | (#26436719)

So now you're in possession of determinate meaning? Please share.

Slightly off topic, perhaps... (4, Interesting)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 5 years ago | (#26436663)

...but this just happened. I got a phone call this morning from my son, who is a Freshman just beginning his second term in college (math/physics major).

His college requires all freshman to take three credits of social/cultural liberals arts classes focused on diversity, understanding, and rainbows. On the plus side, they focus on writing weekly research papers, which is probably a good habit for freshman to pick up.

In this specific class, the teacher was warning against the perfidious institution of sexism in places of power, and gave the evil ex-dean of harvard as an example. I happen to have had conversations about that with my son, and so when the teacher asked for open discussion, my son spoke up. He said that as he understood it, the Harvard dean was a poor example of sexism, since all he stated was that there was possibly may be some physical difference in brain development between the genders that lead to the male preponderance in hard sciences.

The teacher turned red, started to stammer, so my son stopped talking. By the end of the day, he had been notified that he had been removed from the class. Now, he's probably learned a good lesson... shut up and don't engage in free discussion in a class that encourages free discussion, until he gets a feel for the teacher's maturity. It's an unfortunate lesson, but probably necessary. I should stress that he is always polite, and always soft-spoken; there would have been nothing objectionable about his behavior.

To bring this back to topic, perhaps losing face-to-face contact and easy interactivity with the professor and other students is not really much of a loss. Except for the best teachers, most classes are no more educational than spending an hour with a textbook, and sometimes (when personalities get involved) much worse.

Re:Slightly off topic, perhaps... (5, Insightful)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | more than 5 years ago | (#26436775)

Remember that you learned this preposterous story from your son, who learned his concept of reality with you. Your acceptance of this obviously falsified or wildly embellished story as reality shows that your understanding of reality is deeply flawed. This, in turn, implies that your son's understanding of reality is similarly flawed. By the time the story gets to us through you two highly imperfect filters, it's pretty much meaningless.

Re:Slightly off topic, perhaps... (4, Insightful)

exploder (196936) | more than 5 years ago | (#26437173)

Yup. No way the OP's son got removed from a class for that. I've seen plenty of *actual* misbehavior from dumbass freshmen that never led to their removal from class.

This sounds like the kind of "look what the libruls are doing *now*" sort of email that circulates among my Christian/conservative acquaintances.

Re:Slightly off topic, perhaps... (1)

sunking2 (521698) | more than 5 years ago | (#26437183)

While a little bit over zealous and pompous, pretty much right on. Next we'll hear about how his roomate killed himself and he is receiving a 4.0.

Re:Slightly off topic, perhaps... (1)

DrVomact (726065) | more than 5 years ago | (#26437315)

Remember that you learned this preposterous story from your son, who learned his concept of reality with you. Your acceptance of this obviously falsified or wildly embellished story as reality shows that your understanding of reality is deeply flawed. This, in turn, implies that your son's understanding of reality is similarly flawed. By the time the story gets to us through you two highly imperfect filters, it's pretty much meaningless.

Sir, I have carefully examined your comment for irony, and regretfully concluded that you are actually serious. I must, in turn, conclude that you are yourself a victim of what passes for a college education these days. That is to say, you know very little, your ability for critical thought has been removed, and have been trained to think only within narrowly constricted bounds—when you are forced to think at all.

To the original poster: It may not be too late for your son. Rescue him now, and the programming may wear off. Advise him to learn a useful trade, and educate himself as best he can.

Re:Slightly off topic, perhaps... (1)

cawpin (875453) | more than 5 years ago | (#26437439)

Don't jump on that wagon too quick there, man. A personal friend just had an equally disturbing experience at a certain western US university. The professor clearly stated in class and on the syllabus (which is the end all, be all of class authority) that all exams would be announced on the class website. My friend chose not to attend every class because that material wasn't exactly graduate level stuff, as the class was supposed to be. Well, said professor decided to break the rules and not follow his own syllabus and announced an exam in class. This is very much a no-no and my pal is still fighting them on his subsequent failure of that exam and, potentially, the class.

Lesson - Some professors really do think they are allowed to do whatever they want and you must do whatever they say.

I had one experience while in college but it never amounted to much trouble for me. The prof, on the other hand, was given a very clear message from the head of the department.

Re:Slightly off topic, perhaps... (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 5 years ago | (#26437087)

Blah blah blah. There are plenty of good liberal arty classes that aren't taught by morons, and frankly, a weekly "research project" is a terrible idea: how can you fully develop a real idea in a bare week? You're talking a make-work snippet with zero depth.

Though, yea, you have to watch out for profs in classes where the grades have an arbitrary element. I got screwed a couple of times by that myself, though I've never heard of actually being removed from a class without some exceptional situation.

Re:Slightly off topic, perhaps... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26437099)

Political correctness run amok.

Fucking women need to get back where they belong.

Re:Slightly off topic, perhaps... (4, Insightful)

timholman (71886) | more than 5 years ago | (#26437167)

The teacher turned red, started to stammer, so my son stopped talking. By the end of the day, he had been notified that he had been removed from the class.

I've been teaching at public and private universities for many years, and I have yet to see or hear of a undergraduate class where a professor could arbitrarily drop a student from that class without that student's permission, just because the student said something politically incorrect.

So tell me, what university was this? And what reason did your son claim was given for this supposed drop? And why didn't he raise holy hell with the administration for such a flagrant and prejudicial abuse of faculty power, assuming such power even exists?

I call shennanigans. I suggest you contact the dean's office and find out the real reason your son dropped the class.

Re:Slightly off topic, perhaps... (1)

cowscows (103644) | more than 5 years ago | (#26437259)

Well, if it actually went down the way your son told you, then I think he's learned the wrong lesson. If I was removed from a class over a reason as silly as that, I would make some significant efforts to have either that teacher or his/her superiors have to answer for it. You might have to pester the hell out of them, but it can be done. I'd expect to at least be allowed back into the class, and maybe with an apology from the teacher. The lesson here is to not be such a sissy, and that sometimes you have to push back a little bit when people don't give you some basic respect.

It's a small matter, with at best a small victory, but why not start small when you're still in college?

Synonymous? (4, Informative)

TomRK1089 (1270906) | more than 5 years ago | (#26436667)

"...the massive lecture hall synonymous with achieving a bachelors of science."

Synonymous? Maybe at large colleges, but guess what -- you can get a degree without that experience. It's called a smaller school. Sadly, many of my high school compatriots looked at "name brand" first, and size or cost second, if at all. For any high school slashdotters listening, I have a secret -- it's the same degree. My father went to state school in RI, and was recruited by Raytheon before he'd even graduated. He was working alongside graduates from all the Ivy Leagues, getting paid the same. It doesn't matter what the name on the diploma is, what matters is the effort you put in and the skills you provide for your employer. Save your money, avoid crippling student loan debt, and get those smaller class sizes anyways.

Smaller university equals smaller classes. The largest class I've ever had at my university was 40 students -- hardly unmanageable. Consider these things first, since you're going to school for your degree, not bragging rights, at least ostensibly so.

MIT was concerned about cost (2, Interesting)

peter303 (12292) | more than 5 years ago | (#26436707)

One of the professors who implemented this was a classmate of mine and we talked about this several years ago. MIT's big initial concern was cost. Lab space takes more room than lecture hall seats. Plus you have run the class much more often to keep the lab size down to manageable numbers. Combined this is almost an order of magnitude of more capital and labor than your standard lecture course.

The NY Times article pretty much lists the advantages. Foremost is an improving the pass rate from 85% to 95%. Second is students learn and retain the material better. Freshmen courses are the basis of subsequent coursework. Third is more efficient grading. Students and professors are being given automatic feedback. You dont need as many problems sets and exams. (A disaster for the MIT tradition of showering freshmen on the night before the first physics midterm :-)

There are hybrid solutions to make lectures more interactive. Something as simple as clickers, like they use in TV game shows, to give the prof immediate feedback and keep students focused on lectures. And this costs on $50 per student.

What do you say... (1)

mrphoton (1349555) | more than 5 years ago | (#26436867)

Q: What do you say to a second year engineering student who did not attend all the first year lectures? A: Big mac and fries please.

The nature of the school is the same. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26436933)

You'd get smaller lecture sizes and, if you're interested in post-grad work, likely be better off going to a small college for your undergrad work and waiting for MIT until post-grad. The undergrads at MIT, like those at many major universities, are there mostly to fund the post-grad programs and facilities. If you just want a name on your resume that'll make employers drop their panties for you, then MIT is a great choice for undergrad.

A prediction on my success as an engineer... (1)

fprintf (82740) | more than 5 years ago | (#26437037)

My very first class at Clarkson University in Potsdam, NY was Calculus I. I was sitting alongside hundreds of Freshmen engineering students. The first question from the instructor, who I am told was world renowned for his mathematics prowess, was "how many of you are in Engineering", to which it looked like 95% of the hands went up. The second question was "how many of you have had calculus in high school". I was the only one that did not raise my hand. Uh oh, now what?!?

The thing that made that classroom setting useless as a teaching tool, and more useful as a data dump, was the intimidation factor. I couldn't very well ask the teacher to repeat why the first derivative didn't make any sense to me without complete embarassment.

I will say that the instructor was marvelous. He did not defer his office hours to some foreign TA, he did them himself. And in the gentlest way possible, he would ask to see your notes (to prove you were in class) and then would give really great examples of how to do things. Unfortunately he was the only one to make a positive impression and it wasn't until I had flunked out, changed majors to Business and changed schools that I would get to demonstrate the results of his teachings later in an MBA level economics course. Who knew that calculating the area under a curve with calculus could be useful to business majors? Anyway most of my fellow students in business didn't get calculus, but I did!

Whine, whine, whine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26437307)

Been on both sides - graduated from Big U (undergrad), graduated from Small U (undergrad), graduated from Big U (grad), teach at Small U. What I saw - those who knew how to learn didn't have any trouble. Those who didn't always had trouble. Teachers don't pour education into your brain; students must want to learn and must actively pursue it. So many students want to passively obtain an education. You will never become proficient at anything except reading if all you do is read a book - you've got to DO. If MIT's efforts are successful (i.e. students actually learn) it's not because they got rid of the lecture halls. It's because students are performing more hands-on work and less book work. Unfortunately, it appears that the small class size is necessary to get some of these students to actually make the effort.

I suspect if MIT were to provide a set of self-study projects and then test the student at the end you would find a large percentage of the "failures" would disappear - once students figure out you have to actually make the effort (and this includes seeking assistance) the whining will cease and the students would begin the process of truly learning.

My lecture hall horror story (1)

DrVomact (726065) | more than 5 years ago | (#26437459)

I got my undergrad degree from Berzerkeley. At the time, Art History was pretty much a required course. It was held only at 8 AM, in Wheeler Auditorium (this was before somebody burned it down). Promptly at 8AM, the prof would turn out the lights and start showing slides. Mostly they were The Madonna of This and That, by some Italian guy. My max was five madonnas, after which I would be in deep REM sleep. I mean...they expected me to stay awake? In the dark ? At EIGHT IN THE MORNING????

The only thing I learned in that course was that sleep learning definitely doesn't work. Luckily, I had signed up for it pass/no pass, and in those days, at least, it didn't count on my GPA...

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  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
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