Posted by: atri | September 24, 2012

Some thoughts

I have talked to some of you about in general how to do well in class etc. I have already collected some of my thoughts either in this blog post from 2009 or in the suggestions in the HW policy document. If you have not read either, please do so.

Below are some things that I (should) have mentioned to those of you asked me questions in private (most if not all of them are in the two documents above):

  1. The exams and HWs will not test whether you understand the material that was presented in class as is. Rather, the questions will test whether you have understood the concepts well enough to apply it in different contexts. Pretty much the only way to get better at this is solve as many problems as you can. In addition to the HW problems, solve the unassigned problems from the book.
  2. If you need help come talk to us. If you are stuck at a problem for say 5 hours, it might not hurt to come talk to us/use piazza to ask questions. We are not generally thrilled to answer questions when it is clear the student has not spent any time on the problem. However, we are more than happy to help if you are stuck. From my understanding, all our office hours are going under-utilized. Come ask questions. If the OH times do not work, use piazza or email for a separate appointment. (The latter might not work out always but we will try our best.)
  3. Spending say 10 hours straight not a problem is 10 hours mis-used. You will be better off spending 2 hours each on five days. In fact, if you are stuck on a problem for say 2 hours, then I encourage you to take a break. Let the problem germinate in your sub-conscious.
  4. If you start working on your HW on Thursday then of course you cannot do any of the above: so at least read the problems on the Friday the HW is handed out and start working on them as soon as possible but perhaps not later than Monday.
  5. After you get back your graded HWs, if you are not sure why you lost points, go to the TA and ask why you lost points. Make sure you understand if you lost points because (i) you had completely the wrong idea or (ii) you faltered in how you wrote the proof details. Writing good proofs takes practice so make sure you get some practice and feedback.
  6. The TAs should be giving you enough feedback so that you can understand at least at a high level why you lost points. If not, please let me know/ ask the TAs. If you want to do this anonymously, use the anonymous feedback form.
  7. Some of you might have  a bit of trouble understanding your TAs’ accent. If you do not understand, please ask till you understand what they are saying. Also the best way to understand an accent is to get more exposed to it, so you might have to be a bit patient at the beginning.

Please post comments/question on Piazza if there are some things you think need to be said/answered.



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