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 I received students’ feedback of the Problem Solving course I taught in January and February.  I was a bit discouraged as the trend going up until last year was slightly reversed this year.  

  After having struggled several years, I thought I had finally put the course  in reasonably good shape last year.  In fact, I had quite good feedback from the students who seemed to find the course quite practical and applicable to many things they were doing. This year,  I thought I had followed the formula that had worked last year and tried to make some improvement on the group project and also added something new.  

  Judging from the students feedback, however, it did not quite work in the way I had wanted and I need to think about how to revise for the next year. I also think it is important not to over-react to few very negative comments. (I seem to receive a wide range of comments almost every year about this course–some think it is such a great course, and there are always some that see very little value.) 

  It is discouraging to get negative comments, and I naturally get quite disappointed as I put a lot of effort and time in designing and revising the course.  But after few days of being down, I start thinking about next steps.    So stay tuned.

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  • Comments (2)

    • DonalC
    • March 16th, 2009

    1. I agree that it’s important not to overreact to negative feedback. Depending on our frame of mind, we can be swayed to attend exclusively to negative or to positive information. A good way of reducing this risk is to write down separately – or to highlight – both the positive and negative pieces of information in any review. If we do this, we often realize that the feedback is more nuanced than we originally thought!
    2. Students have individual preferences about the types of courses they prefer. Problem solving, by its very nature, involves ambiguity. Some people are disposed and conditioned to be less comfortable with ambiguity than others. While it’s possible to introduce some frameworks for addressing problems, problem-solving can never be as clinical as performing NPV calculations for a corporate finance class.
    3. Students can assess some features of a class reasonably accurately (e.g. the intensity of the course work, preparedness of faculty, interest level of cases), but the value of some courses arguably becomes apparent only after many years. I dare say that this holds for problem solving more than for most other courses.

    • yishikura
    • March 17th, 2009

    Dear Donal, thanks so much for your comment. How nice to hear from you!

    Your suggestion of listing both positive and negative pieces of information is appreciated very much.

    What you mentioned in 2 and 3 above are exactly the reasons I think problem solving no matter how it is received is important, particularly today. Your comment cheered me up very much. Thanks!

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