Post 11: Critique of the Course

I think the biggest thing I learnt in this class is that sometimes the best option is the one that seems the least logical. For example, Akerlof’s Gift Exchange Hypothesis suggests paying employees more than the minimum required is usually beneficial for an organization. The other important concept was how organizations make decisions, especially the concept of the whip, or the person who listens to everyone and makes sure they are all on the same page. Both these concepts are important to organizational success and make sense, even if they are not obvious necessities. I also enjoyed most of the models, although I would have liked the tests to include more math than pure concepts, but I’m more of a math person.

I think I would have enjoyed the blogging more and gotten more out of it if the prompts were less specific. I understand you focused on personal anecdotes to get us thinking how it applies to our lives more, but I do not enjoy writing about myself. If I could focus more on the concepts and examples outside my personal experience, I think my writing would have been more interesting and less cookie cutter. I also wish we could have more discussion in class, because those were very helpful. The excel homework worked well for me, but I felt as the class went on they became less in depth. Earlier homeworks took us step by step through the processes, so I knew I understood them, while later homeworks just asked for answers.

To be honest, I did not do any of the readings, and I don’t feel like it hurt me at all. For most of the excel homeworks, I read the entire document, but only once or twice did I rely on the videos. I tried to get the excel homework done as soon as possible, so I liked you released it early. Blog posts took me 20-30 minutes and besides comments I already made, I think they were usually applicable topics and a reasonable length and time to complete. I wish I could chose the blogs I needed to comment on, because I think I would enjoy commenting more that way. Your comments were consistently helpful and thought provoking, though, so thank you for those.

Overall, the main thing I would have liked to see more in your class was more of a focus on the math. You say people get bored when you talk about it, but for me, it seems like one of the most applicable things you teach. I think it would be more clear if you solved problems in class to show how the concepts were being used, rather than a purely conceptual explanation of the math. I also wish the tests had more math based problems with definite numbers. The first two problems on both tests seemed way too short for 50 point questions, perhaps each could have a concept portion and a numbers portion. Overall, I enjoyed the class, especially your examples from your own experiences. It is clear you enjoy teaching, and it makes the class much more enjoyable.


5 thoughts on “Post 11: Critique of the Course

  1. Some of how to modify the course we’ll talk about in class on Tuesday, so here I’d like to contain my response to things specific to you.

    First, on the blog prompts, you always had the alternative to write about a topic of your own choosing, including rewriting the prompt to fit your preference. It says that in the syllabus and I’m sure I said it at the beginning of when we started to blog. It may be that a reminder or two were needed after that, and if so that was my error. You may be the only one in the class who is comfortable internalizing arm’s length arguments. If a student is comfortable that way, then there is no (teaching) reason to make the posts personal. I believe that for most if not all the other students, they would not make the connections without the personal context.

    On the comments – of course you could have commented on other posts in addition to the assigned ones. As a substitute, however, there is an issue of some students not receiving comments in your method. That is a less desirable outcome, in my view.

    On the math, the part that I don’t get in what you’re saying is that you insist it must come in via the exams, and not some other way. If it came in via the readings, for example, why wouldn’t that satisfy you? I fear the entire class, you included, have a Pavlovian conditioning to respond to assessed work, in general, and tests, in particular, but not to respond otherwise. That conditioning may be a needed survival skill for college but it won’t help you a lick afterward.

    1. I’ll agree that I focus on what is on tests/graded too much, and some of my concerns could have been fixed by my own efforts. That is definitely true. But I’d bring up a point you introduced in class: professors always think their class is the most important. I have other classes and other hobbies that I would prefer to do. It may be sad that students learn for the sake of grades rather than for the pursuit of knowledge, but it is also largely the case. The best you can do is lure them in with grades and hope they appreciate the knowledge they gain. I think you could have tried to lure us in a bit more, and for me, problems with actual numbers would help me see how learning the material can help me in the future and how interesting it can be. For the last homework assignment, for example, I would have been more likely to watch the video if I needed the video to complete the homework, but I didn’t. The fact that I did not view the video is completely my fault, but I feel my comments are more about how you could get me to watch the video. The answer would be to make the homework harder and make me feel like the test would contain a problem like it.
      In the terms of the course, I think the changes I suggested would make learning the material (like the math) better than the outside option of shirking. I would not say I shirked this class but I could have put more effort in (couldn’t we all). If you think all my concerns are wrongheaded, you’re probably correct and ignore them at your leisure. I just wanted to comment on what would improve the class for me. I understand most students will see things differently, but I wanted to be honest in my assessment.
      Any further comments would be appreciated.

      1. I pushed back on several of my students on this last post, on just this issue of how much responsibility to take for the learning. Your response about having multiple balls to juggle is valid. So I don’t think your concerns are wrong headed. Rather, I’d say there are issues here that are not fully resolved, in my head or yours.

        Also, on a lighter note, I’m kind of amazed that several students have already responded to my comments – at least this afternoon it seems I have their attention!

  2. Your blog was very interesting and it was nice to read how other students such as yourself thought about different topics and issues. I understand what you mean when you say that the earlier homework offered more guidance. The more recent homework assignments tended to be saturated with multiple choice rather than equation solving which made it easier to get through, but also meant less learning. I would also agree that adding in the numbers for exams might have actually made problems easier to understand and solve.

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