New Syllabus for Linear Algebra

I last posted about how I was rethinking the content expectations for linear algebra, so that I could write my own text. I took another step towards getting class ready today: I finished my syllabus.

This was inspired by examples that Susan Hill, our CETL director, handed out at this summer’s Course Design Academy. She had several different syllabus pairs in a before/after set-up. I really liked the way that most of the redesigned and reworked documents looked, so I wanted to write my own, better, syllabus document.

Here it is. I guess you can comment, but I am done with this for now. I have other things to do.

My New Linear Algebra Syllabus

The primary changes for me are these:

  • I am not doing SBG/SBAR this term, since I have so much else to manage.
  • I have streamlined my list of outcomes into four “process goals” and five “Big Questions.”
  • I am going to try out some peer grading for the first time.
  • I am definitely going to use an IBL scheme which is “individual work at home; group discussion in class; solo presentation in class,” but I have not made a big deal of this on the syllabus as being an IBL environment.

Anyway, you can do this too. It just takes several years of flailing about and thinking hard, two weeks of digesting the University, Department, and MAA learning goals, and then about 12 hours of writing and editing over two days.


4 thoughts on “New Syllabus for Linear Algebra

  1. Can you please elaborate a little on the type of problems you ask the students to do in the “Daily Work” part of the syllabus? I’ve been struggling to get my students in a seismology course to think a bit more about the content before we cover it in class. For instance, I’d like them to read the textbook on the content I am going to cover and have thought about what aspects confuse them.

  2. Well, it depends, and I am rewriting these this term. Usually, I ask interesting math questions. They have to be pitched at the correct level so that students have a chance to solve them, but maybe won’t solve all of them. These will go up as the term progresses, but if you want a basic idea, you can see the stuff I was using for the last few years here:

    Those are keyed to Strang’s text. Since I am writing my own this term, things will be different.

  3. Thanks TJ. Seeing examples is very useful. When you do for example vectors, or eigenvectors, what then do you do in the class time? Do you work through the pre-class homework examples with the students?

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