Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Welcome Week

I emailed my department head that I'm back and explicitly mentioned that I was offered my summer job again for next summer (which I plan to do) and that the organization that I worked for offered me a full-time job (which I declined). Possibly crass, but I think it's worth it for them to realize that I work here because I like my job (not because I need the money) and it's worth their while to keep me happy. I keep telling myself that there's a reason that I work with confused 17-year-olds and not at an investment bank.

One of the tasks that I've been recruited for is a "Welcome Class of 2011!" event. There is a great deal of concern about the number of students who don't complete their degrees, so the administration has come up with a plan to deal with it. Somehow, this plan seems to mostly involve free pizza and receptions and opportunities to meet the faculty and not so much taking a look at how the level of preparation of our incoming freshmen compares to the expectations of college-level work. There is the hope that creating more opportunities for the freshmen to mingle with world-class researchers will improve the retention rate. I hope that before they assign these world-class researchers to teach College Algebra that they first check to see what the success rate is when they teach Engineering Calculus.

I'll play along, but I'm not sure how effective an outdoor event held in the afternoon during August in the South will be. Perhaps we can serve lemonade and sweet tea and tell the students that the Math Department loves them. Maybe we can have a computer set up so that we can have our faculty friend them all on facebook. Better yet, a Quizilla Quiz (or some other online quiz) that's an in-depth diagnostic test of their prerequisite skills and what they would need to do in order to get up to the level that's expected of them. Even better if it generates some cute code for their blogs where they can proudly declare that they can't add frations or solve linear equations. Unfortunately, that's too hard to figure out in the next week and a half (especially since I have a lot of other work to do).