Final Reflections, MA8

Anya R. Weber, Brown 96.5

0) Have you submitted responses for weeks 5 through 13?

To the best of my knowledge, yes. I think week 8 was submitted via e-mail.

1) How has your view of yourself in relationship to mathematics changed over the course of the semester?

What I wanted this class to give me was an increased sense of how math manifests itself all over the real world, and I've gotten that. I like using mathematical strategies for thinking about non-mathematical subjects. That's my new hobby, thanks to this class.

2) For you, what are the most positive and the most negative aspects of the course? Would you suggest any major changes in structure or emphasis?

The most positive and most negative aspect is the same: the amount of self-motivation necessary to get a lot out of the class. This is not a class where we were pushed to the limit unless we pushed ourselves. I think that's a good thing, but at the same time it might've been nice to get a more structured series of assignments. For instance, rather than just "write a response to ch x," a more challenging and specific question or set of questions would have encouraged a deeper understanding of the material (such as, "This week, devise four high-school-level questions involving duality/infinity/the golden rule, complete with possible answers").

3) and 4): Comment at length on the concept of the paperless course. What are the advantages or disadvantages of this approach? In what ways could such an approach work in other courses?

I loved increasing my computer knowledge, saving trees, and being interactive on-line. I'd saay the discussion groups didn't really happen, but I did enjoy reading other people's responses to the homework readings. As computer stuff (like HTML) gets easier and easier, this will become the norm for classes rather than an exception.

5) Describe your experience with the weekly assignments and the "response from Prof. B." feature. Comment on the public nature of these interchanges, and the possibility of linkings among student work and communication with the other class members. To what extent did you read the submissions of other students (and/or the professor's responses)?

As I said above, I liked this aspect of the class very much. Banchoff's responses were encouraging and thorough. After I got used to clicking around, it was not a problem to read interesting stuff, though it was annoying to have the "error: file not found" message come up if someone hadn't done their homework for thaat week. Is it possible to get only those names with responses lit up to be clicked on?????? That would be wunderbar.

6) Describe in some detail your activities as part of your final project team.

I wrote several short essays for the "dimensionaality and literature" group, and helped out with the tortuous yet fascinating process of getting our stuff online. I kind of wished we'd had someone in our group with some technical/programming/computer experience, since Michelle and I basically had to figure it all out for ourselves. But the end result isn't bad.

7) In the old days, the final project was mostly an individual effort, on the order of a ten-page paper. How would you characterize the experience of working on a team, and how did that affect your effort in the final project?

I think I experienced both a lot more stress and a lot more pleasure working with others for the final project. I always find it EXTREMELY frustrating trying to coordinate things like that, but five heads really are better than one, and the resulting projects are more diverse and interesting this way.

In general, this class made me happy! ; 0)

Prof. Banchoff's final response.