Using FAQ documents in teaching

One thing I have experimented with in my teaching is the use of FAQ (frequently asked questions) documents. As I admit to the students, I deem a question to be an FAQ if it is asked more than once, or if it is asked once and I think it is interesting enough to be useful to others!

Students do often come up with the same questions year after year, and so this can be an efficient way to help them: I have had some very positive feedback from the students on this.

It is important that the FAQ documents should not grow so large and unwieldy that the students are reluctant to look at them. Nor should they be a substitute for clarity in the lecture notes!

One of my most popular FAQ documents was for the module Complex Functions, which I taught in 2003-4 and 2004-5. I used my colleague Jim Langley’s excellent lecture notes for this material, but added a Complex Functions FAQ document of my own which gradually expanded over the two years that I taught the module.

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3 responses to “Using FAQ documents in teaching

  1. Yes, be careful with these!

    When I was an undergraduate, there was a critical mass for study materials. Eventually one can create a dependency, and at the same time nullify the need for lectures themselves!

    NS
    http://sciencedefeated.wordpress.com

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  2. I am certainly in danger of putting myself out of a job! I have already started using a tablet PC to give lectures in the form of “annotated slides” and have audio podcasts of many of my lectures. (See my material on Uniform Convergence and Pointwise Convergence for example, as mentioned before) Now I am looking into various forms of video!

    Meanwhile, I have now made my Mathematical Analysis FAQ document available.

    Joel

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  3. Pingback: An unusual issue with the ratio test | Explaining mathematics

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