General Course Expectations

A good education is like a good marriage. Both are cooperative ventures in which both partners have expectations and responsibilities. Like a good marriage, a good education can only be achieved if both partners put in the necessary effort. Otherwise, the result is failure.

I think that most students expect the professor to

In my experience, there is far less consensus among students regarding what professors should expect of them. The primary purpose of this page is to make clear what I expect of students in my classes.

1. I expect you to master the material covered in the course.

Every once and a while, a student will ask me, with an incredulous tone, "Do you actually expect me to learn this?" The answer is yes! Please don't complain to me that the material is too hard or that we go too fast. It isn't and we don't. Hundreds of students have mastered the material and I expect you to do the same.

2. I expect you to come to class on time and prepared to learn the day's material.

First, I expect you to come to class. While little of what is covered in class cannot be found in the course resources (the textbook or online material), most students find the give and take of a verbal presentation useful. If you must miss a class, I expect you to look at the syllabus to see what was covered in class and then go over that material on your own. Missing a class is no excuse for not being prepared for a quiz or a test.

Second, I expect you to come to class on time. When you come to class late, you not only short-change yourself but you also disrupt the rest of the class.

Third, I expect you to come to class prepared. In most cases, it will be helpful if you review the material covered in the previous class. Then, look at the course syllabus to see what new material will be covered and scan through that material before coming to class. If we will be working through problems that require a calculator, bring a calculator to class with you. If we are going to be having a quiz or a test then make sure you are ready for it when you come to class.

3. I expect you to work on the material outside of class.

There are two sad facts of life that you might as well learn now. The first is that you can not succeed in a college-level mathematics or computer science course unless you work on the material outside of class. Strictly speaking, that is an overstatement. There are some students who can do reasonably well in a lower-level math course with minimal effort outside of class. The second sad fact of life is that you are probably not one of them so quit fooling yourself!

You'll need to do homework. This will often involve working through examples and/or exercises that will help you master the material. The precise nature of that work depends on the course and may include

In any case, learning to solve problems is like learning to ride a bike. While it is helpful to have somebody (like me) show you how it is done, you will never actually learn how to do it yourself without practice, practice, practice.

4. I expect you to take responsibility for your decisions.

You must live with the consequences of your decisions. I won't give you an extra-credit project or a few extra points at the end of the semester just because you made some poor choices earlier in the semester. To use a common metaphor, it is your responsibility to hit the road running at the beginning of the semester and keep up the pace until you reach the end. You are free to rest along the way but if you do, don't be surprised if you don't finish the way you had hoped.