Today I’m working on prepping the first week of group theory and abstract algebra. It’s been interesting work. In game theory we’re going to start with combinatorial game theory and we’ll get to play a lot of games. That is fun and stimulating for the brain, but I also have to decide how much of the subject and methods of combinatorial game theory we should be learning together. What’s the right balance between having interesting experiences and discussions together and learning formal theory?
In abstract algebra, my challenge this semester is to start at a place that the students can reach. Abstract algebra is unlike any other course most of my students have taken, and typically they feel very uncomfortable during the semester. This semester our first week will be spent on set theory with some interesting examples. This isn’t the most exciting place to start the semester, but I hope to give the students enough tools to move forward without undue anxiety.
I’m also going to be doing “minute papers” at the end of each of these weekly classes this semester to get a sense of where the students are and what they need from me and from the class. I’ll also do a more evaluation about three or four weeks in, and I’m going to supplement the traditional course evaluation with an end-of-term evaluation of my own.