Feedback from the first week — Math, Art, and Design

In my classes this semester, I’m going to be asking students to give me a little feedback each week, and my goal is to make this feedback into a dialogue of sorts between me and the students. So I had students in my two Math, Art, and Design classes tell me something good or interesting from the first week, a question or concern, and anything they wanted to change. Now I’m looking through those responses.

From both sections, I have collected a pretty comprehensive sampling to give you a good feel of the feedback. Not everything is in here, but most everything is represented. I was impressed by how much the students put into what they wrote and how open they all were to mathematics as a subject.

The Good/Interesting/Exciting:

  • I was terrified coming into this class. I feel excited now
  • Enjoyed questions of how infinity works or if it does
  • Making math fun, can’t wait.
  • I am excited for it.
  • Math is hard for me to follow and I liked when we broke into groups.
  • Groups/videos are good ways to break up the class (a couple of people said this)
  • Never thought about an infinite amount of something so deeply before
  • Videos were awesome (several said this)
  • Idea of exploring philosophical connotations of infinity was fun
  • Class more energetic than I expect and I appreciated it
  • Idea that numbers can go infinitely backwards was interesting
  • Vi Hart video was cool and made me want to do math doodles
  • Infinity blows my mind
  • Learned what infinity is and how to define it, that is quite epic if you ask me
  • This is by far already the most interesting math class I have ever taken.
  • Like the format [I project notes from a tabled PC using Windows Journal and then turn those notes into a PDF after class]
  • Theores we discussed were really eye-opening and I really enjoyed the personal, mental freedom to explore these concepts. Adding examples that we could imagine physically (eg hotel) helped
  • Liked amount and variety of different visuals, it made everything easy to understand
  • History of Galileo & Cantor going insane were interesting
  • Love the way this class is challenging my concrete mathematical brain with the “impossible”
  • I liked how people in the class created a discussion instead of just listening to the teacher talking
  • Concept of one-to-one correspondence became clear
  • My mind hurts. Just kidding…kind of.

Concerns/Questions/Changes Needed

  • Same as in every math class I will end up getting lost
  • I am worried that I won’t retain all of the info or not understand a concept (Note: we don’t have a text in the class, which I know can raise anxiety levels so I want to be careful about supporting students)
  • Would like a longer break
  • Still not sure how there can be different sized infinities
  • Is there really an accurate definition for the word “infinity”?
  • Would like to see more working on our own in future classes
  • Curious what our 40 point project will consist of
  • I’m afraid of math
  • Curious to know more about how mathematicians think
  • Like you said, I’ll believe whatever the math professor tells me — I’m not confident enough to expand that into skeptical math questions
  • How did the idea that things are infinity even become an idea? If everything we know is finite, why would we we think there would be more?
  • If we have established that the infinite hotel is impossible why did this guy’s theory stick so well with the other mathematicians?
  • What is bigger than infinity?
  • Might it have been easier for some to grasp if we had approached topic from something infinity small (since infinitely large things are so hard to grasp)?
  • How can you play musical chairs backwards to represent infinity+1
  • Topic of infinity piqued my curiosity but was also frustrating because there are no defined answers concerning it.
  • I don’t want to change the class, only my knowledge of math.
  • I need some processing time before I’m even ready to ask questions.
  • Can we do more with drawing/visual arts and math [likely in response in part to Vi Hart video]
  • I am a bit nervous because I haven’t taken math since high school [the majority of the class are juniors or seniors]
  • Dont’ quite understand infinity hotel, why did they all have to move one door down? Why couldn’t they just send guests to the end?
  • Confused as to how the “number” infinity works. Know it goes on forever, just don’t understand how to add “actual” numbers onto it.
  • Still unsure of why it takes a set and a proper subset to equal infinity.
  • I would like to change my lack of willingness to try to enjoy learning about math
  • Less math and more philosophical quandries

I won’t be doing this with the feedback each week (although I will do it sometime around the middle of the semester with a midterm evaluation). I see in this feedback some subject matter I need to address and that I need to give more time for group work. I plan to address some of the questions students raised in our next class together.

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