Aside from Mathematical modeling, this is the course I have taught most often at Texas A&M. I have taught it 3 times out of 3 different books! I really enjoyed teaching this class the first time (and they enjoyed me), but I think that the course was too easy. The second time, I taught over the summer in a 5 week session. A lot of the students were retaking it after an unhappy grade in a prior semester. I also think this class was too easy, but part of this was that I didn’t notice soon enough that my grader was inclined to just give everyone perfect scores rather than actually going over the homework. The third time (the materials from this round are above), I think I hit a good spot on the difficulty curve, where I challenged students to think and to grow appropriate for the level of the class.
This class is taught in a Calclab, so computers are available to the students daily. That said, we don’t use them all that often; I would like to figure out how to use them more appropriately in this class. As you can see from the homework above, we do learn how to program ODE solvers in MATLAB and you can see I am initiating a discussion of their errors.
One trick I learned from another instructor, Dr. Adam Larios, was to stop giving students code samples to modify. I still give samples, but I put this on paper, so that they have to type the code in themselves. This forces students to read the code line-by-line, which helps with understanding. Then they have to debug their typos which is also super-valuable. Overall, this simple modification increases learning tremendously.