Please explain the question again

Here is something I just mentioned in a comment on my previous post on in-class voting. I often include two extra options at the end:

  • E: Please explain the question again
  • F: I’m not sure

Here option E usually gets very few votes, but it is quite revealing if the majority suddenly vote for E. This happened once in my first-year pure maths module this year, when I asked a counting question (how many different 3-cycles are there of a set with 8 elements?). Clearly my first attempt to explain the question failed! See timestamp 26:25 of the 18th lecture in Foundations of Pure Mathematics

and see if you can tell what went wrong!


2 responses to “Please explain the question again

  1. I’m not surprised they didn’t get it first time here. You spoke almost as fast as I do, while saying something confusing about different permutations possibly being the same permutation. 😉


    • You’re right there! I’ll certainly have to say something that makes a bit more sense next time, and preferably slower.
      It may not be clear from the recording (as I had pressed the pause button), but I did actually give them a minute or two to think about the problem before I spotted the large number of votes for “Please explain the question again”.
      It isn’t entirely clear whether it was my garbled intro that confused them, or whether they just weren’t yet fluent enough with permutations/counting to have a feel for what this question meant. In either case, it would probably be best if I give the “additional” explanation immediately rather than waiting.
      The “good” news is that this was apparently the only question this year where they got so confused. (Indeed, for most questions the majority got the correct answer first time round.)


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