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TAG: Drop-In Centre

When will I ever use this?

“When will I ever use this?” is possibly a maths teacher’s most feared student question. It conjures up all sorts of unpleasant feelings: anger that students don’t see the wonder of the maths itself, sadness that they’ve come to expect maths is only worthwhile if it’s usable for something, fear that if we don’t respond […]

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Really working together

Yesterday, I had one of those experiences in the MLC that makes me love my job.
The Maths 1B students were working on a linear algebra proof today, and as I came up to one of the tables, Fred (name changed) was explaining the beginning of his proof to the rest of the table. When I […]

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Out-of-body teaching experience

I have had a couple of new staff start in the MLC this semester. As part of the selection process they have to do a trial session in the Drop-In Centre, with me observing how they teach in order to give them feedback.
Every time this happens, it has a very unusual effect on my […]

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Rotation confusion

I had a long chat with one of the students the other day about rotation matrices. They had come up in the Engineering Physics course called Dynamics as a way of finding the components of vectors relative to rotated axes. He had some notes scrawled on a piece of paper from one of my MLC […]

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Past Exam Vision

Students have just been told their exam results for Semester 1, and some of them are facing replacement exams. So we’ll be trotting out our standard suite of exam advice again, which will be all the more poignant now because these people tried to do it last time and failed!
One piece of advice we give […]

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There is no such thing as “just a quick question”

We often get students in the MLC saying that they have “just a quick question”: “Finally you’re up to me – it seems like a long time to wait when it’s just a quick question…”; “I know it’s 4:05 and the Centre closed five minutes ago, but it’s just a quick question…”; “I’m sorry to […]

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Two wrongs make a right

Students make a lot of mistakes when doing their maths, but sometimes they will make two mistakes in such a way that their final answer is still correct. This happened last week with one student quite spectacularly, because his doubly wrong method of doing a particular problem always produces the correct answer.
Let me explain: the […]

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Why I’m not a “lecturer”

Every so often a student asks me why I am not a “lecturer”. Often it happens after I’ve helped them understand something from their course, or (as it did this week) after I’ve given a revision seminar on some topic from their course.
Now I do realise that they are giving me a compliment by saying […]

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Assignments don’t teach people

It is a well-known truth that assessment drives learning. Students will often not learn a particular topic or concept unless it is assessed by an assignment or exam. Fair enough — often students are not choosing to do a particular course for the sheer love of it, are they?
However, many lecturers take this truth just […]

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You will never see this problem again

“Now you understand that you’ll never see this problem again, don’t you?” I said, after a particularly productive problem-solving session at the MLC whiteboard with a group of students.
And then the world ended.
At least, I would have gotten the same reaction from the students if it had. They were all staring at me with wild […]

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