TAG: Drop-In Centre

Finding errors by asking how your answer is wrong

One of the most common situations we face in the MLC is when a student says, “I’m wrong, but I don’t know why”. They’ve done a fairly long calculation and put their answer into MapleTA, only to get the dreaded red cross, and they have no idea why it’s wrong and how to fix it. […]

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Pretending not to know

Yesterday the Maths 1M students handed in an assignment question that asked them to prove a property of triangles using a vector-based argument. It’s not my job to help students do their assignment questions per se, but it is my job to help them learn skills to solve any future problem. This kind of problem, […]

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My cat’s bottom

Did you know that cats have scent glands just inside their bottoms that are constantly being filled with liquid and are squeezed as their poos come out, and if their poos are too skinny the glands are not squeezed enough and get over-full making them very painful and inflamed? Neither did I, until my cat […]

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One of my friends and a past MLC staffer graduated from her PhD yesterday (congratulations Jo!). One of my strongest memories of Jo is when she told me something about my teaching that I never knew I was doing, but that she saw as an essential part of what I was trying to achieve at […]

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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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