Author Topic: Paper, and papers, and professors... oh my!  (Read 5025 times)

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PastryGoddess

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Re: Paper, and papers, and professors... oh my!
« Reply #30 on: July 19, 2013, 05:35:36 PM »
In the US, it is generally only the first year classes that are massive.  After that it was rare for a class to have over 30 people.  Depends on the university, though.  I knew several of my professors.  Enough that when I back for a Masters in a different department 15 years later, the ones that were still there remembered me. 

I always called them Professor XYZ.  Some of the older professors didn't have their Ph.D. and they were touchy about that.  Plus, I consider Professor to be a higher title.  I never had a class that wasn't taught by a professor. 

I've been paying attention to the homeschooling information/books/boards, since we will be doing that.  There is a discussion going now about online universities.  One of the cons that people point out is the lack of class discussion and being able to drop in on your professor and ask questions.  it sounds a lot like what the OP mentioned.

I think one reason for the broad range of subjects required at U.S. University is to make up for the lack in the student's previous education.  They can't assume that the student has already had a well-rounded, good education.  So, everyone is required to take 2 Composition , 2 Literature, 2 History, ? Math, ? Science, 1 Political Science, 3 Humanities.  Plus, probably some others I've forgotten.  That is assuming you don't need remedial classes. 


My school is online.  I attend UMUC or University of Maryland University College.  What's nice is that they are part of the UMD system and the semesters are the same length.  If I want I can take some classes in person.  I did my math and economics classes in person. Also I get instate tuition rates which is even better :)

CakeEater

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Re: Paper, and papers, and professors... oh my!
« Reply #31 on: July 19, 2013, 05:42:02 PM »
I went to a Liberal Art School and have a degree in Political Science. I took Freshman and Sophomore level writing courses, a couple of math courses, Philosophy/Religion course, Multidisciplinary course on Chicago's history and development, Multidisciplinary course on Greek and Roman Myths, a couple of lit classes, Russian History, Japanese Politics and Culture, sociology, computer programming and I think 3 basic science classes (Earth, Chem, and Bio). The most variety were in my Freshman and Sophomore years. Junior and Senior year tended to be mostly political science/history/multidisciplinary courses.


This is genuine curiosity, not criticism, so I hope everyone is taking it that way.

You're an elementary school teacher (?), so did you do any teacher training at university? Or later?

camlan

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Re: Paper, and papers, and professors... oh my!
« Reply #32 on: July 19, 2013, 06:03:47 PM »
You can get a degree in Elementary or Secondary Education. Also Special Education and English as a Second Language. You can also get a degree in just about anything else, and then get a one year Master's degree in Education.

Most education degrees involve classes on the theory of education and educational practices, plus practical work, first observing in classrooms, and building up to a semester of student teaching.

My sister double-majored in Elementary Education and History. Getting a double major in Education and some other subject area was pretty common at her university. Then a few years later, she went back and got her Master's in Education, as many, if not most, school systems require that you either have a Master's when you start teaching, or that you get one in a certain number of years from the time you start teaching there.
Nothing is impossible, the word itself says, “I’m possible!” –Audrey Hepburn


Ereine

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Re: Paper, and papers, and professors... oh my!
« Reply #33 on: July 20, 2013, 12:11:17 AM »
Here elementary school teachers (with a few exceptions, like music and language teachers) will have a degree in elementary education, they study everything from basic crafts to sports and religion. Usually the same teacher stays with the class from first to sixth grade (obviously that doesn't always happen but it's the goal). From grade seven on every subject is taught by a different teacher, so they will have to have a master's degree in the subject and then do some teacher training, it isn't enough to have a degree in education. Daycare teachers have a shorter degree, I think that they're only required a bachelor's degree (I think that most children here are in daycare at some point, though usually not before they're at least about 10 months old, then they can go to preschool at six and start school at seven).

Psychopoesie

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Re: Paper, and papers, and professors... oh my!
« Reply #34 on: July 20, 2013, 12:17:31 AM »
Another Australian here.

Just finished a degree in psychology at a small- medium university (around 12000 students total).

Had a required psych major but was allowed to choose my other major from any of the faculties (the were some restricted majors, like nursing, that weren't open to everyone). So I chose creative writing. Still had a few electives to play with as well so took a class in French and some in philosophy. Others chose majors that were more obviously related to psych - counselling major, biology, etc. The mix I chose worked for me. I loved having a chance to study a broader range of topics. Still came away with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology.

First year psych classes were big (4-500 students) because it was considered a useful class to take for a lot of other degrees. Most classes were much smaller, maybe 100 students at most. Whether I came to know the lecturer depended on their involvement with the class. Several were involved in tutorials (which were more interactive than lectures) & I came to know them better. Some I had more than once through the degree. Uni was fairly casual so I just called lecturers by their first name when talking with them.

Assignments had word counts. Only exception was for poetry units - usually went by number of lines, not words. This is where the assessment task involved writing a poem, not writing an essay about a poem.

There were academics who took on the role of course convenors who were consulted by students about any issues with their specific course. For example, when I wanted to take some units that were only offered at another uni, the course convenor signed off on that. However, they weren't actively monitoring my progress (as far as I know). Maybe it would be different if I had been struggling with classes.

Lady Snowdon

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Re: Paper, and papers, and professors... oh my!
« Reply #35 on: July 20, 2013, 07:50:43 AM »
My undergrad college was a little different from a lot of other colleges/universities in the US.  Each class was one credit, with some electives being worth a fraction of a credit.  When I took my health education courses, each one was worth .125 credits.  It was kind of fun to see that my course load for those semesters was 4.125 credits.  So I can honestly tell people I graduated from my college with only 28 credits.  :P

Another difference was how the semesters were set up.  My college was on what they called a "4-1-4" system, meaning there was a 4 month long semester in the fall, a month long course in January, and another  4 month long semester in the spring.  Our January term, or J-term classes were the opportunity for everyone to take an elective fun course.  I never saw a J-term that was a requirement for a major.  I took classes like "Film and Fiction in the Great Depression" and "Representations of Christ in the Media", while my now-DH took classes like "CSI unveiled".  Because the timeframe was much shorter, only a month, those classes were every day and lasted either 3 or 4 hours. 

Otherwise, it was pretty similar to what other US folks have been describing.  I double majored in Communication Studies and History, but had to take a science class, a theater or art class, a few language courses, etc.  I was very mad about having to take the science class too.  I had gone the International Baccalaureate route in high school, and my college supposedly granted credit for english, history, science and language classes based on my IB scores.  My science score was more than high enough to qualify (5), but it was determined that I couldn't prove it had included labs (seriously!  My choices for science in IB were Biology, Chemistry and Physics - how could I have avoided labs with any of those?), so I was stuck taking geology just to be able to graduate. 

Library Dragon

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Re: Paper, and papers, and professors... oh my!
« Reply #36 on: July 21, 2013, 01:44:28 AM »
At my Uiniversity we had word counts, font type, size , margin and 1.5 spaced requirements. Is this the same elsewhere?

As I said before, most of my professors didn't do a word count. (Seriously, is the professor expected to sit and count the words in each of the essays?) But the font type, size, and margins were all standard. The profs would pull out a ruler to measure margins and font size, and if it was an extra wide font, they'd tell the student to reformat it in an accepted font and dock points. With the font, margins, and type size set, word count can be generally safely estimated by how many pages there are. At least that's how my adviser (French Horn professor, also taught several classes I had to take) explained it to his freshman course. He said every year people would try to sneak a new font by him and every year he would dock points because he knew they didn't have the wordcount right. And the few times he did go in to double check word count, he was pretty accurate based on his averages.

This is the advantage of having essays emailed or uploaded.  Word gives a word count.  I could also check margins, font size, etc.

The differences in university systems is interesting.  I often moan that in the US universities often seem to be job training centers rather than centers of education.  It's surprising that the required undergraduate courses that IMO give a broader education.  Is this balanced some by the countries in which secondary (high school) lasts longer than our 4 years (age 14-18)? 

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Ereine

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Re: Paper, and papers, and professors... oh my!
« Reply #37 on: July 21, 2013, 12:30:27 PM »
Our high school is three years (it's possible to do it in two and some take four), usually until 18 or 19. I've heard that people who have been exchange students in the US that the school seems very easy, but that obviously depends on the student and exchange students aren't necessarily going to study hard. We also seem to study different subjects, we had quite a lot of geography and of course languages but it seems to me that American schools do more literature for example (we had to read two novels in high school and one in middle school). One factor may be the way students get into universities here. High schools end in exams and good grades in them can help you get into a university but usually you have to take an entrance exam and that measures the skills that the student needs to have. We may be more practical as well, they don't care if the engineering student can't name any Shakespeare plays, they're only interested in her math and physics skills.

RingTailedLemur

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Re: Paper, and papers, and professors... oh my!
« Reply #38 on: July 21, 2013, 12:39:15 PM »
Is it not the case in the States, though, that if for instance you want to do something like Law you have to do your 4 years of college and then go to college/university again for a few years to get a Law degree?

Whereas here, you go straight from secondary school into a Law degree at age 18.

That was something that annoyed me about the Austin Powers film (silly, I know).  Liz Hurley's character said at one point that she had gone to Oxford "where I excelled in several subjects" and then says something about discovering a talent for languages while studying...  At that point I'm rolling my eyes at the screen saying, "No, you didn't!  Universities here don't work like that!" and Mr Lemur is looking at me funny...

camlan

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Re: Paper, and papers, and professors... oh my!
« Reply #39 on: July 21, 2013, 01:53:29 PM »
Is it not the case in the States, though, that if for instance you want to do something like Law you have to do your 4 years of college and then go to college/university again for a few years to get a Law degree?

Whereas here, you go straight from secondary school into a Law degree at age 18.

That was something that annoyed me about the Austin Powers film (silly, I know).  Liz Hurley's character said at one point that she had gone to Oxford "where I excelled in several subjects" and then says something about discovering a talent for languages while studying...  At that point I'm rolling my eyes at the screen saying, "No, you didn't!  Universities here don't work like that!" and Mr Lemur is looking at me funny...

Pretty much this, although there may be exceptions out there.

Law school does this, as well as medical school. Now, there are strongly recommended undergraduate degrees that will prepare you for law or medical school. But you can still get in without those recommended degrees, if you change your mind about your career after having committed to a degree. Or if you get out of college, work for a few years and then decide to go to law school or med school.

One feature of the US system is that you don't have to make up your mind what you want to do for the rest of your life at 18. A great many colleges and universities encourage students to not declare their majors for a year or two, but instead take a variety of courses and find out what they like.
Nothing is impossible, the word itself says, “I’m possible!” –Audrey Hepburn


RingTailedLemur

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Re: Paper, and papers, and professors... oh my!
« Reply #40 on: July 21, 2013, 02:30:58 PM »
Is it not the case in the States, though, that if for instance you want to do something like Law you have to do your 4 years of college and then go to college/university again for a few years to get a Law degree?

Whereas here, you go straight from secondary school into a Law degree at age 18.

That was something that annoyed me about the Austin Powers film (silly, I know).  Liz Hurley's character said at one point that she had gone to Oxford "where I excelled in several subjects" and then says something about discovering a talent for languages while studying...  At that point I'm rolling my eyes at the screen saying, "No, you didn't!  Universities here don't work like that!" and Mr Lemur is looking at me funny...

Pretty much this, although there may be exceptions out there.

Law school does this, as well as medical school. Now, there are strongly recommended undergraduate degrees that will prepare you for law or medical school. But you can still get in without those recommended degrees, if you change your mind about your career after having committed to a degree. Or if you get out of college, work for a few years and then decide to go to law school or med school.

One feature of the US system is that you don't have to make up your mind what you want to do for the rest of your life at 18. A great many colleges and universities encourage students to not declare their majors for a year or two, but instead take a variety of courses and find out what they like.

Yes, I often think that in the UK we make children choose far too early - they start narrowing down their subjects at school at age 13-14.  I think that is a mistake, in many ways.

Ereine

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Re: Paper, and papers, and professors... oh my!
« Reply #41 on: July 21, 2013, 02:44:00 PM »
Students tend to be older here, even the recent high school graduates will usually be 19 and as it can be quite difficult to get into university many students are older. I was 22 when I started at my polytechnic and I wasn't among the oldest students, I had one (involuntary) gap year after high school and then got into a vocational school and that took two years. Men also have compulsory national service so that easily takes a year (and the non-military alternative is 13 months so they can lose two years in the worst case). People will change their minds sometimes of course and it's possible to transfer credits but I don't know how useful it would be for a biologist for example to spend two years studying random things and then decide on biology, that wouldn't leave much time for biology. But our degrees seem to be more training for careers. I'm under the impression that in the US a college degree no matter the major can make you qualified for all sorts of jobs, here it can be more limited (though certain master's degrees tend to give you pretty limited job options and you have to find job that probably won't have much to with your degree in feminist studies and art history) and for example even general office work tends to require a certain degree.

There are some choices that students have to make quite early, at 16 or maybe earlier. Like if you want to study something technical you probably need to take advanced maths and physics and maybe chemistry (I wanted to be an architect when I was younger and so chose advanced maths and continued it even after I gave up that plan) and if you want to study German it will probably be quite difficult if you didn't start it in high school at the latest. But everyone is still required to study some maths, some physics, some chemistry, some Finnish, Swedish and another language and so on in high school. I think that I had something like 16 compulsory subjects in high school (in some of them I only took one class, fortunately as I hated chemistry and music) and had to take the final exam in four of them, one of them had to be Finnish but I could choose the rest from English, Swedish, German, maths and "academic subjects" (pretty much everything else, apart from arts and PE. These days students do exams in those subjects individually and so they may take a lot more exams than the four that they have to). It's possible to go to night classes later to study for example maths (like a friend of mine who wanted to become a pharmacist) and even retake the final exams, so what you study in high doesn't have to control your whole future.     
« Last Edit: July 21, 2013, 03:01:35 PM by Ereine »

Twik

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Re: Paper, and papers, and professors... oh my!
« Reply #42 on: July 21, 2013, 04:52:18 PM »
I had a fourth year class with three people once
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jmarvellous

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Re: Paper, and papers, and professors... oh my!
« Reply #43 on: July 21, 2013, 05:21:07 PM »
I went to what was, at the time, the largest university in the US. My first semester, I had a biology course with more than 300 students (though the professor was awful and no more than 40 people typically came to the lectures) and a journalism class with a similar number of students that was always packed full.

After my first year, though, I probably only had 2 classes with more than 50 students, and most had fewer than 20, and we were required to interact with the professor on a daily basis --grades were given for "participation" many times, and we had to discuss any issues we were having with longer-term assignments, too.

Since I was a journalism major, I think our requirements were significantly different from my essay assignments in my science, history and English classes. We would have minimum numbers of sources/quotes, approximate length requirements, and style rules to follow. I sort of created my own specialization over the course of my education by taking editing electives and asking my professors if I could edit my classmates' assignments. It was lots of fun to take charge of my education.  My friends in the hard sciences (huge, impersonal classes) and liberal arts (small upper-level classes, little career guidance) had VERY different experiences from mine and from each other.

Now, 7 years after my accelerated degree, I am going back for a law degree. They have told us our first semester's schedule will be handed out and we won't have any real choices to make, except one second- semester elective, until our second year. Weird,  but nice. Supposedly, all our first-year classes are with the same small group,  too.

camlan

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Re: Paper, and papers, and professors... oh my!
« Reply #44 on: July 21, 2013, 05:29:45 PM »
Just thought of this, about page vs. word counts.

Back in my college days, everyone used typewriters. Typewriters basically had one of two font sizes, pica--which was ten characters to the inch, and elite--which was 12 characters to the inch.

Professors would give students paper guidelines, margin sizes, etc. So when they assigned a 5 page paper, they were in effect assigning a specific number of words--they just weren't telling the students the number of words.

If I remember correctly, with pica type, you had approximately 250-300 words per page, depending on the margins. 
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