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December 06, 2004



It appears that I can be of no help here, as the two largest classes I have taught have had 11 and 11 students, respectively.

Rudbeckia Hirta

Be extra-scary the first day and have someone from the math department come and give a recruiting talk, bringing add-drop and change-of-major forms? Put the phone number of the person responsible for this situation on the syllabus, telling the students that this is who their parents should call? Maybe not.

Certainly set up policies that put more responsibility on the students for their crises.

How do you use your TAs now? The only time that I took a large lecture CS class (it was the intro class), the TAs had no positive effect on my experience as a student; I hope that they provided some useful service to the professor. Is your class set up in the lecture-recitation format that is used in large-lecture calculus? Or is there some other way to map students to TAs? A fair amount of the administrivia (and most of the student emergencies) can first be vetted by TAs. Since you probably never even see or touch homework, there is no reason for you to get involved in a student's administrative problems with the homework (extended deadlines, etc.). If necessary, declare one TA as the "head TA" to further shield yourself from the administrative side of things.

Once you get a good administrative regime going and have a full set of videotaped lectures, the department can have you "teach" the course without your involvement!

Moebius Stripper

I've had plenty of profs teach multi-hundred-student courses without going crazy. They just didn't interact with the students at all, instead contracting out all of the dirty work to graduate TA's. On the other hand, most grad TA's I know DID go crazy...

Seriously, though - what Rudbeckia Hirta said. Use your TA's to maximum advantage, and don't deal with all of those emergencies. One mistake I made this term: giving makeup tests. If I had one student missed a test because of a dead grandparent/suicidal roommate/sick kid, I'd spend a few hours setting, supervising, and grading a makeup test. Never again; miss a test, I'll just weight your final for more.

hamiltonian path on an n-hypercube

You just need to lay down the law and don't ever allow credit for any late homework, no matter the excuse. Throw any requests for late credit directly in the trash bin. And just drop the lowest homework grade. That'll save a lot of hassle, and it's perfectly fair.

Jeff Erickson

I already do that! (And yes, it cuts WAY down on the hassle.)


It appears that I can be of no help here, as the two largest classes I have taught have had 11 and 11 students, respectively.

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