Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Good Evening

Last night was the final meeting of my once-per-week, three-hour long night-time astronomy class. As an attempt at something different, I gave their final quiz last week and told them to show up this week to talk about the fate of the universe with cookies provided. They were also told that there'd be no grade attached to this week's meeting, I just thought that teaching cosmology would be fun in sort of a laid-back format, letting their questions really drive the discussion. This, of course, would depend on participation, so my plan would fail horribly if people didn't show up.

All of the students showed up. Every single one.

Do you know how much fun it is to teach a class of interested students? This group had been great all semester (averaging almost 10 % above the scores of my day-time classes), so I had confidence that I'd get a good turnout, but all of them? I was really impressed, but not necessarily surprised. I've always enjoyed teaching evening classes at community colleges. The demographic leans towards older, full-time employed people. They may be tired when they show up to class, but they attend because they really want to be there. That's a good thing, because when I teach at night, it's usually the end of a long day; this semester's Tuesdays went from 9:00 am to 10:00 pm. If the students weren't as dedicated, it'd be difficult for me to keep up the level of energy required to teach a three-hour lecture. So thank you and good luck in the future to my evening students!


Sarah Prineas said...

Wow, that's awesome. I bet they loved putting their class knowledge to work on the big questions. So cool!

Some said...

So what is the Fate of hte Universe? How are we (well, me) going to die, Dr. Lisa??!?!?


Congrats on inspiring another batch of minds.


Dr. Lisa said...

When people say that they want the universe to live forever, somebody will timidly ask, "But won't all the stars die out?" And then we discuss the ever-darkening sky due to expansion and the death of stars, the slowing star formation rates that are already being observed and even the decay of fundamental particles.

It's all fun and games with me!

Therrin said...

That's awesome.

I envy you that the night time classes get the more motivated classes. I get the opposite selection effect. Since almost all of the students are full time undergrads, if it's a really late class no one wants to take it, so it selects for the students who are generally so unmotivated as to be the last ones to sign up. In my lab class like 1 in 4 was the ultra motivated worker type, but in the pre-med class the late sections were like pulling teeth.

Dr. Lisa said...

Therrin - I agree about many of the afternoon/evening students at the university. Even in the astronomy labs, there is a trend - the 7:30pm slots fill first, then the 8:30pm slots. And if it's a Thursday 8:30pm (the last time offered), that can be one unmotivated group of kids. Sigh.

Hawk McGee said...

I can't even imagine what it would have been like to teach a whole class of interested students. I think my best class ever had about half actually interested. Usually it was 2-3. What a great experience that must have been.

Dr. Lisa said...

Sorry about that! It is a rare thing, indeed, to have such a good group. I'll miss them.