John Pormann's Course Feedback

May 4, 2015 • John Pormann

I really enjoyed the course and learned a lot about the practical side of teaching – stuff that you don’t generally learn anywhere else in grad school. I’ve already tried to incorporate some of these ideas into other seminars I’ve taught this semester, and I plan to re-work several of my “traditional” seminars to be more in-line with SWC ideals.

I think the biggest takeaway I got was just Greg’s ability to boil down the best research on teaching into something digestable and immediately useable. E.g. the understanding that experts are “bad” teachers (since their knowledge is more networked together than a beginner) has made me re-think some of the “color commentary” that I would otherwise give out at seminars – to me that info makes sense, but I now see how it might confuse students.

I might also try to find some other trainers that might want to do “demo-teaching” and critiquing – it was extremely useful, both the demo itself as well as the though-processes leading up to the demo (re-thinking course-work, re-working slides/flow of the seminar).

As for improvements, the obvious one has already been well-hashed – github has a steeper learning curve than I expected, and the markdown/jekyl stuff for the website is somewhat confusing.

I would be interested in the 2-day version of the class. Personally, it was it hard for me to consistently find time to work on SWC homework given the demands of my day-job – much easier to just block out 2 days and be done. I also think the face-to-face interactions would have been more productive (vs. Skype/Hangouts), and I would hope that there might be more opportunities to do demo-teaching (but maybe that would require a 3rd day which might scare some people off).

If it isn’t already under discussion, I think the idea of a wiki/repository of MCQs would be extremely useful – and something that newly minted and future instructors could help build-out and refine.