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Sunday, January 22, 2006

Teaching The Intro Course

I probably teach the required undergraduate core finance course more than any bother one. Many (if not most) experienced faculty put this class on the bottom of their list of favorite classes to teach. There are a number of factors that make this class a challenge:
  • The class demands both a sound grounding in basic accounting (many students' lease favorite course) and decent math skills
  • The class serves two purposes - for finance majors, it's the foundational course, provides the basicc background that they'll use in all subsequent finance courses. For the non-finance major, it's the only finance course they'll ever take.
  • There's a wide varience in student aptitude for the material
  • It's often done in large (40+ student) sections.
Unlike many, I consider this to be one of my two favorite courses to teach. First, becasue it's easy, and second because it's a goood opportunity to be a "finance evangelist". I figure that if I do a good job, many of the accounting students will see the light and convert.

See Jane Compute is blogging about teaching the intro computer programming course, which shares many of these same difficulties. She writes:
The biggest challenges I have at this level are (a) maintaining everyone's interest in the material, without losing or boring anyone along the way; (b) making sure that the lesser-prepared students aren't intimidated by the blowhards (many of whom really have sub-standard skills, but they know the lingo and they know how to sling it around); (c) introducing an overwhelming number of concepts in the first several weeks, and making sense out of them; (d) making sure that at the end of the class, everyone has some baseline skill in programming a computer.
She's got some great suggestions. Read them here.

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