Sunday, July 31, 2016

How would you compare the UALR math/stats dept with other UALR academic depts with which you have had contact?

The departments I recall experiences with at UALR
writing & rhetoric
computer science
information science
information assurance

maybe others I've missed, whatever.
the main ones are math/stat, cs, and disls.

I had sucked at "writing" ever since 7th grade and failed/dropped composition classes three times at Tarleton, and then I took composition 1 and 2 at UALR and those were really good experiences except for during composition 1 i sprained  my ankle and missed the last two weeks of school and so I didn't get to get my last paper revised so ended up only getting a B in that class even though I had an A up to that point and probably would have gotten an A if not for my sprained ankle and I'm annoyed at the teacher for not emailing me back feedback on my last paper and letting me revise it before giving me my final grade, but other than that she was a good helper with the writing of the papers and I was actually proud of several of the papers that I wrote in that class, and the same is true for composition 2, although that class was harder and i got a B in it and actually think I deserved at most a B, and I had an incomplete in that class because I wasn't able to complete the assignments by the deadlines but I was working on them continuously and always going to the teacher's office for help and she was always really helpful and one time she listened to me rant for like 20 minutes about how I felt like I would never be able to get a job.

So summary of that that math teacher might actually want to hear:

********  I've taken two classes in writing & rhetoric, composition 1 and composition 2.  I had taken similar classes at Tarleton and dropped them 3 times because they were too hard and those teachers said that I was really bad at writing and should take a remedial writing class.  But then later the composition teachers at UALR were really helpful and said I was actually pretty good at writing, and I got B's in both of those classes.  My one complaint is that in composition 1, I had an A until the last assignment, and I was injured and couldn't come to class and the teacher refused to give me feedback on my paper via email, so I wasn't able to revise it, so that brought my grade down to a B.  Composition 2 was harder and I needed extra time on all the assignments and got an incomplete and went to the teacher's office for help almost every day, and she was apparently happy to help me and give me extra time.  ************

I've taken one class in philosophy that I completed and one that I ended up dropping.  The one I completed was intro to logic, and the class material was really easy and stuff I had already learned before in high school, so I got an A in it, but the teacher (who was a PhD student at the time) was a terrible jerk.  The other class was ethics & society, and I dropped it because the teacher was insufferable.

I took one ASL class and despite the fact that I was motivated, I didn't understand a lot of it and I got a B in the class, so I blame their attempt at "natural" learning.  That means they try to teach you the language by just "exposing" you to it and not teaching you the grammar.  I don't learn that way and in fact most adults do not learn that way.

I've taken one class in the english department, vocabulary building.  It was a joke.  We didn't use most of the class time and when we were in class we spent most of that time listening to one particular student ramble about his opinions on current events.  The class was easy but I didn't learn anything, and I didn't even finish the final because while I was working on it, the teacher said she wanted to go home so I should just stop and she would give me an A anyway.

I took two speech classes, one was the like basic speech class that was required for the core requirements, and the other was a class called interviewing.  I took an intro speech class at tarleton and it was really hard and the teacher was really aloof and unhelpful and I dropped the class.  I was nervous about taking the speech class at UALR because I was bad at writing, and this was before I took the composition classes.  I did have some trouble with the speech class, but it was a lot better than when I tried it at tarleton and the teacher was helpful and willing to spend time helping me, and I ended up getting a B in that class.  Because of that success I decided to explore the speech department further and I took interviewing, but the class ended up just not being to my taste and I dropped it.

I took the intro information assurance class and it was garbage and I learned nothing and I think I got an A in it.

I think I've taken two information science classes that were required for the CS degree and they were both ok.

DISLS:  I've taken spanish 4 (which doesn't exist anymore, the semester I took it was the last semester they offered it I think), spanish grammar, spanish phonetics, and a spanish linguistics seminar.  I also took and dropped because they were terrible:  spanish conversation, spanish communications interpretive, and spanish communications interpersonal.  The grammar, phonetics, and linguistics classes were ones that were taught by my mom.  She is the only good spanish teacher I've ever had and she is in the top 2 of good teachers I've ever had in my whole life, the other one being Dr Minsker of the computer science dept.  I'm not alone in thinking my mom is a good teacher.  I've heard lots of other people say she's the best etc and she always gets good evaluations.  The other teachers generally sucked balls, although some were worse than others.  When I dropped classes it was because the teachers were terrible.  I knew more about spanish grammar than they did, and the spanish 4 teacher pronounced things wrong all the time, like horribly ridiculously wrong.  Also their theory behind the required classes was stupid.  They were told by some accrediting agency that they were supposed to involve presentational, interpersonal, and interpretive skills in their program, so they made separate classes called "spanish communications presentational", "... interpersonal", and "... interpretive", and they wanted all three of them to be required for the major, but because someone failed at paperwork, they didn't manage to get the presentational one required.  They didn't make the grammar class required, so they tried to sprinkle grammar lessons throughout all the other classes, including spanish conversation, and that's how they ended up with people who didn't know shit about grammar trying to teach it.

I also took and completed french 1 and 2 and took and dropped french 3.  French 1 and 2 were fine, although the french teachers didn't know a lot about grammar and were hostile to my learning style of grammatical analysis.  When I took french 3, that semester the french teachers had decided to do away with "pencil and paper tests", so the tests were just another student or the teacher asking you a question and then the teacher subjectively rated your answer on fluency and pronunciation and a couple other categories I don't remember.  On the first test I got marked down on fluency because I paused to *think about my answer* to a personal question, and that was the last straw for me and I dropped the class.  They also continued to eschew the teaching of grammar, which is the same problem the ASL classes had, that they wanted to teach the language in the "natural" way that babies learn despite the fact that the vast majority of adults cannot acquire a second language that way.

I also took one german class and it was fine.

A general problem with language degrees is that they don't actually help you attain fluency in the language.  But they imply to potential students that, for example, you can use your spanish degree to become a spanish interpreter.

I've taken a bunch of computer science classes.  I have two major complaints about it.  One, they assume a lot of pre-requisite knowledge of the students that's not covered in any of their classes.  Two, there's one particular teacher who's so incredibly atrociously stupid that I don't even know how he manages to be alive, and on top of that he's an asshole, and the department made a terrible unforgivable mistake in hiring him and giving him tenure (if they have, i think they have, i'll look it up).

I've taken a handful of math and stat classes at UALR.  linear algebra, applied stats 1 and 2, college geometry, math software.  and i've taken others and dropped or failed them, for one ore more of the following reasons.  One, I hate math.  Two, the class was too hard.  Three, the teacher wasn't helpful or didn't make themself available to help me.  Four, the teacher was an insufferable idiot/asshole.  So here are my three main complaints about the math department.  One, the essence of math is misrepresented in lower-level math classes.  Two, Kosmatov is a jerk.  Three, the guy who teaches math history is fucking god damned annoying and an asshole idiot.

^ I need to add more to that paragraph about how I think math should be taught differently for math majors.

1 comment:

  1. I will compare the Math and Statistics Department to other departments at UALR based on my experiences with the teachers and the classes, as well as the structure of the overall program as I understand it.

    One criterion by which teachers are judged is whether they are knowledgeable in their field. In this respect, the math teachers are superior to the many of the Spanish teachers I’ve had. However, when it comes to sharing that knowledge with their students, i.e. explaining the material, in my experience the Math Department was outshined by the Rhetoric & Writing Department. The teachers in that department were really good at giving me feedback and spent a lot of time helping me revise my writing. Teachers in the Math Department made good use of class time by lecturing or answering questions the entire class time, as opposed to an English class that I had in which the teacher dismissed class extremely early most days and allowed one student to dominate the class talking about unrelated topics. .

    When it comes to the class material, the Math classes are superior to the Computer Science classes because the Computer Science classes assume a lot of unspecified prerequisite knowledge, but the Math classes make a point of covering all the bases. I like the fact that the Math classes I have taken were largely new information, not just a rehashing of material I covered in high school. This contrasts with my experiences in the Philosophy Department and the English Department. One frustrating aspect about both Math classes and Computer Science classes is that there is not an opportunity to delve as deeply as I would like. Often teachers answer your questions by saying “You’ll have to go to graduate school to learn that”.

    Possibly the most important criterion for judging a program is whether it prepares you for a job in a relevant field. Obviously, I don’t have personal experience with this, but I have heard that you can’t get a job as a mathematician unless you have a Ph.D. in Math. So, in this regard it seems to be inferior to the Computer Science Department. If further education beyond the bachelor’s degree is required for a job, students should be made aware of that before choosing a math major. While I think the Math program is not as good at preparing you for a job as the Computer Science Department, I do think that the Math Department is superior to the Spanish Department in this regard, because I know that some people who graduate from the Spanish Department aren’t even fluent in Spanish. At the very least, departments should make clear to their students what they can and can’t do with their degree.