Department of Mathematics

Van Vleck Hall, 480 Lincoln Drive, Madison, WI

General Suggestions for Teaching Large Lecture Courses

Some suggestions on teaching a math course at UW:

  1. In undergraduate courses, you must give a final exam at the posted time and place, and you should give one or preferably two midterms at times to be announced the first day of classes. If you are teaching low level classes (3XX and below), a minimum of two midterms will be expected. Be sure to reserve sufficient classroom space for evening or in-class midterms by the first week of the semester; almost certainly your regular classroom will not allow exam seating for midterms. (Graduate courses are more flexible, but at least in the 700-level courses, you should give meaningful grades.) Historical grade distributions for all undergraduate courses can be found at Administrivia to serve as a general guideline.
  2. For classes above 400, you need to let Sharon Paulson know a few weeks before the end of the prior semester which textbook(s) you plan to use. (For courses below 400, there is a standard textbook, and if you want to deviate from this, you must consult with the course coordinator first!) For any class you teach, you must also enter the textbook information into the Faculty Center at MyUW well in advance so that your students can buy them. (If you will not use textbooks, please check the appropriate box there so your students know that!)
  3. Especially in lower-level classes, stress the consequences of any type of cheating ("academic misconduct") and vigorously pursue any suspicious cases. Administrivia has a link, and the associate chair (or your mentor if you have one) can give further advice.
  4. Homework is an important part of any math class, and you should ask for a grader if you have no TA's or only 1 TA per 100 students.
  5. If you have questions, concerns or students that just won't give you a break, feel free to contact the associate chair, and he'll try to find solutions. (If you have a mentor, you may want to check with him/her first.)
  6. As a rule, you cannot cancel an undergraduate class unless there is a last-minute emergency. (This applies to TA sections as well.) If you must be gone on official university business (conference, invited lecture, etc.) and miss teaching, you must fill out a Request to be Absent form at Administrivia and give it to Lynn West; this form must specify who will substitute for you (or, in the case of graduate courses only, how you will make up for the missed classes).
  7. There are students who may need special accommodations for exams and such. They will have a laminated piece of paper with the information, called the McBurney VISA. On the first of day of class you should ask McBurney students to bring their VISA's and show it to you privately.

Further suggestions for those of you teaching with TA's:

  1. You should meet with your TA's on a fairly regular basis, especially before exams. This needs not to be taxing, you can meet for 15 minutes at some convenient time, and it can help a lot. You should also visit each TA once the first month of classes, giving them 24-hour advance notice. If you feel there are problems, please let the TA Supervisor and the IEP Director know so they can follow up.
  2. If you in charge of two lectures and have too many TA's, then visiting all of them might not be an option. Still, you should be sure that every TA is visited at least once, and problematic TA's more than once. This can be achieved by having your coordinators sit in on the classes of the other TA's, while you can sit in on the coordinators' classes. They can tell you if there are any concerns with the other TA's, and you can take over from there and be sure that both you and the person handling TA training attend sessions whose TA's are not performing efficiently.
  3. Your TA's must attend lecture (but can do light duties during them, like grading, as long as they follow the gist). Your TA's also have to grade (part of the) homework and help you grade exams, please consult the TA workload sheet at Administrivia so you don't overload or underwork your TA's. Often, TA's can also be a valuable resource for your teaching, especially for exams.
  4. If your TA's have a discussion section before your first lecture of the semester, you should instruct them what to review so that you save time in lecture; you cannot let them cancel the class.
  5. You must participate in exam grading, grading a fair share of the exams, usually a more difficult problem.

UW-Madison Department of Mathematics
Van Vleck Hall
480 Lincoln Drive
Madison, WI  53706

(608) 263-3054

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